Bonnie’s recent blog post about packing for camp really struck a chord with me because, I have to confess, I also started stockpiling camp essentials in March!
As a BUNAC counselor, though, packing is pretty tricky. We usually come from much further away.
Trains, planes and automobiles
My journey to camp in 2010 involved taking a bus to the airport, a flight to JFK, a bus to a hostel in New York City, a taxi to Penn Station, a train to White Sulphur Springs, a van ride to camp (thanks Sam!), and, of course, a trip across the Greenbrier river on the barge.
While I’ve managed to streamline my journey a little since then, baggage still has to be kept to a minimum. Uncooperative suitcases are NOT fun when trying to run between train platforms. Yet, I still have to have enough room in my luggage to accommodate anything that I might need for traveling after camp.
This takes cunning.
But on top of being cut-throat when it comes to clothing decisions (no, I don’t need 12 pairs of shoes), it’s worth pointing out that, despite supposedly sharing a language, a few items on the staff packing list get slightly lost in translation for us Brits.
You say potato, I say po-tah-toe
For example, “tennis shoes.” To us, this means pumps or plimsolls. To you, this is far more akin to sneakers, or, as we would say, trainers.
“Egg crate” is also completely unheard of over here. I had no idea what that was until I got to Wal-Mart.
Tevas and Crazy Creek were brand names that were similarly mystifying.
Also, given that I didn’t own a single t-shirt before my first summer at Alleghany, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why there were no skirts or dresses or playsuits (or, to translate, “rompers”) on the list of day-to-day attire.
A typical day
I still haven’t fully embraced the camp look.
Any kind of make up and cosmetics were absent from the list, much to my confusion, as was a hair dryer – something I use every day at home.
Once I arrived at camp, it didn’t take long to realize that make up is completely unnecessary, and wet hair dries within minutes. I had wasted valuable packing space!
So, for any new NCCCs trying to figure out how to bring your entire wardrobe and beauty accoutrement, here are some items that you don’t think are that important, but that will serve you much better in a typical day at Alleghany:
- Crocs. You might never dream of wearing Crocs in the real world, but at camp, you’ll cherish them.
- A headlamp – perfect for reading in bed, especially if it has a red light as that doesn’t attract insects.
- Batteries – you can never have enough.
- A clock for your tent. Your phone will be kept far away in the counselor’s lodge, so you won’t be able to rely on that.
- Laundry bag. You’ll be given one when you arrive at camp, but as you send your laundry out in it, where are you going to put your dirty clothes while you’re waiting for it to be returned?
- Duct tape. Take my word for it.
- Sharpies. Ditto.
These things will change your life for the better! At camp, at least.
While it may seem crazy to start accumulating things months in advance, it does have one great advantage: it makes the summer seem nearer, which in turn makes you really excited to start the journey to Camp Alleghany!
–Georgie O’Toole, Senior Camp Unit Head, Camp Alleghany for Girls