How to Pack for Overnight Camps


How to Pack for Overnight Camps

HappiFamli, Senior Camp Correspondent

June 17, 2019

It’s summer, which, for many of you, means it’s time to send your kids to camp. If this is your first time sending your child to overnight camp, I’m sure you’re feeling nervous and overwhelmed. Heck, even if they’re going for the tenth time, these feelings are completely understandable and normal for parents. Here are some tips to help your child pack and, hopefully, relieve a little bit of the stress that comes with preparing for overnight camp. 

Use Ziplock Bags to Pack Outfits for Each Day

An organized suitcase or trunk can drastically help children feel less overwhelmed when they first arrive to a new place or an overnight camp. Filling plastic Ziplock bags with a complete outfit and labeling it with the day of the week can help your child keep their trunk or suitcase organized. Bundling outfits in these bags allows clothes stay folded and compact, leaving room for other essentials. In addition, this will help your child to not stress over what they will wear that day and they are less likely to get confused about which clothes are clean or dirty. Which brings us to our next suggestion…

Include a Laundry Bag and Hangers

If you include a laundry bag for your child to put their dirty clothes in, you decrease the chances of having a smelly suitcase or a smelly kid. It’s not a huge deal since summer camp usually involved a certain level of smelliness, but laundry bags can help your child stay a little more organized and prepared. Plus, including a hanger or two can provide a place for wet clothes to dry instead of being shoved back into the suitcase or laundry bag and creating that all-encompassing mustiness that will be almost impossible to get rid of.

Pack Proper Footwear

Recently, on a family adventure, I learned my lesson regarding shoes. My son fell into a koi pond and his fabric shoes were soaked and stinky for the remainder of our trip. From now on, I will always pack athletic shoes AND shoes that can get wet without much consequence, such as water shoes, Crocs, or Natives. These can also be worn in while in the shower to maintain better hygiene and prevent athlete’s foot!

“An organized suitcase or trunk can drastically help children feel less overwhelmed when they first arrive to a new place or an overnight camp.”

Label Everything

I don’t know about you, but I buy my son clothes from the big box stores. Their outfits are cute and affordable, but this also means that several of his friends have the exact same t-shirts, shorts, and bathing suits. Labeling items with a fabric or laundry marker that can be found here can help you make sure that your kiddo’s clothes don’t get lost…or that they don’t end up wearing someone else’s skivvies for the entire trip. 

Pack Extra Socks and Underwear 

Shirts, shorts, and bathingsuits can often be reworn a few times, but socks and underwear….not so much. Packing twice the amount of socks and underwear needed for overnight trips can help your child stay fresh and comfortable for the rest of their adventure.

Make a Shower Lanyard

When I saw examples of these on Pinterest, I immediately wished I had thought of this in college. To make a shower lanyard, you simply add labeled clip on bottles filled with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, etc., then add a loofah, hairbrush, and, if possible, a toothbrush container. Then, all they need is their clothes, towel, and shower shoes. This will make it incredibly easy for your child to grab all of their toiletries and use the bathroom/shower quickly before the warm water runs out.

Include Something that Reminds Them of Home

Since your essentials are packed in an organized and compact fashion, this leaves room for you to include something that reminds them of home. A blanket, stuffed animal, pictures, or their favorite pillow. You can also include notes in their daily outfit bags to help remind them that you’re thinking of them every day.

Tips for Helping Children with Summer Camp Anxiety


Tips for Helping Children with Summer Camp Anxiety

Krista Anderson-Hill, Senior Camp Correspondent

May 27, 2019 

Anxiety is a natural reaction to a new adventure.  It is normal for children to feel a combination of nervousness and excitement about attending sleep-away camp or a new day camp. For most children, they quickly move through those anxious feeling on their own, but some develop deeper anxiety that might get in the way of summer camp fun.  Here are a few tips to help your camper conquer summer camp anxiety.

  • Acknowledge Feelings

Try not to talk your child out of his/her feeling.  For example, saying “There is nothing to worry about. You are going to love camp.” is not helpful. Instead, encourage your child to express what he/she is worried about; sometimes the simple act of verbalizing our fears and being heard is what is needed. Validate his/her concerns and share that many children have worries about camp.

  • Encourage a Sense of Ownership and Control

One of the antidotes to anxiety is to gain control.  Help nurture the feeling of control by allowing your child to be involved in picking out the camp and camp activities. Talking to past campers or taking an in-person or virtual tour of the camp can help campers know what to expect.  Also, involving your child in the shopping and packing process for camp can increase his/her sense of control.

  • Try a Practice Run

If your child is nervous about going to a week-long day camp, have him/her engage in an afternoon or one-day enrichment class.  Or if your child is going to a sleep-away camp, set up a sleepover at relative’s or good friend’s home. These shorter experiences can really help to build your child’s confidence and ease worries.

  • Talk About Your Positive Camp Adventures

Children take our lead.  Sharing with your child about your childhood camp experience, including the new camp friends you made, the fun things you did, how you overcame your pre-camp nerves, can increase a child’s excitement.  That excitement can help chase away fears.

  • Talk to Camp Staff

Anxiety about sleep-away or day camp is nothing new to camp staff. Camp counselors and administrators are well prepared to help children cope with homesickness or worries about new experiences. Make a call to your camp a couple of weeks before camp and ask for their guidance and expertise.  Also, many camps provide useful tools to address camp anxiety on their websites.

  • Keep GoodByes Short and Sweet

Just like dropping your child off the first day of preschool, its best not to have a lingering goodbye.  Long goodbyes increase anxiety for both parent and child. It is best to say a quick goodbye and allow the camp counselors to quickly engaging your child in an activity and meet other campers.

Being anxious about summer camp is normal. And these tips should prove to be a good start to easing healthy worries and stress.  However, if your child cannot be comforted or the anxiety begins to interfere with daily life, it is wise to seek the advice of your pediatrician or talk with a counselor. A professional can help your child identify and change their anxious thoughts, learn coping strategies and embrace the magic of summer camp.

Summer Camps: Magical and Meaningful Experiences For Kids


Summer Camps:

Magical & Meaningful Experiences For Kids

KRISTA ANDERSON-HILL, Senior Summer Camp Correspondent 

February 7, 2019

Camp is an opportunity to gain exposure to new activities, friends and role models, all in a safe and nurturing environment. From science to art and nature to sports, there is a camp out there for every kid’s needs, interests and abilities. The benefits of camp are many and allow kids to make lifelong memories and build a great foundation for the new school year ahead.


Camp allows kids to try new things and master skills. Kids can tackle a new activity that pushes them outside of their comfort zone or show off a natural gift or ability. Camps are structured to provide kids with multiple opportunities to shine and hear compliments and affirmations about how special they are as a person and what makes them unique. Kids often leave camp with a feelings of pride and self reliance.

Unplug and Build New Friendships

Camp can be a space where kids unplug from technology, engage beyond the screen, slow down and make important face to face connections. Regardless of the theme of the camp, much of camp is focused on building social skills and giving kids a sense of belonging. At camp kids learn and strengthen the building blocks of friendship: how to play, work, relate, get along and celebrate others. Friendships and social connections are just as important to kids success as learning to read and write.

The Need for Play

Camp gives kids the play time their bodies and brains need over the summer break to supercharge learning and encourage creativity, imagination and passion. Play involves trying new things, hands on experiences, movement and connecting with others. When kids play they experience joy, relieve stress and open their minds to learning.

Easing Summer Slide

The typical 10 week summer break often results in kids losing some of the academic skills they learned during the school year; this is what educators refer to as the “Summer Slide”. Summer camps take learning outside of the traditional classroom and help kids stretch their creative and cognitive muscles. Camp engages kids in different types of learning and uses different parts of their brain, all helping to ease Summer Slide and build a strong foundation for the upcoming school year.

Counselors and Mentors

Kids who attend camp are exposed to carefully trained staff whose sole purpose is to mentor and support kids through challenging moments and achievements. Camp counselors are skilled at helping kids identify their strengths and feel valued and accepted. When many kids reflect on their camp experience they say the best thing about camp were the counselors.

It is clear that summer camps can give kids advantages in school and in life. But at the cost of $100 to over $1,000 per week, can most families afford summer camp? Yes!! HappiCampr’s Free/Scholarship Guide is your resource for identifying free camps and camps that provide scholarships and need based financial aid. Summer camp can be an experience for ALL of Austin’s kids.

2018 Best of Camp Winners


2018 Best of Camp Winners

HAPPIFAMLI, Senior Awards Correspondent 

November 5, 2018

Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting for the 2018 Best Of Camp Awards. We appreciate all of your feedback and were overwhelmed by the response. We are so excited to announce this years award winners.


BEST SMALL, LOCAL CAMP: Fantastic Magic Camp


BEST ART CAMP: Figment Creative Labs

BEST DANCE CAMP: DANZA, Center for the Arts

BEST FILM CAMP: Austin Film Society

BEST LANGUAGE CAMP: Live the Language

BEST MUSIC CAMP: BandAid School of Music





When Should I Register My Kids for Summer Camp?


When Should I Register My Kids for Summer Camp?

Chad Bookidis, Cofounder, Dad

October 19, 2018

I know for many of you it seems so strange to start talking about summer when we are barely starting the holidays, but with some summer camps already opening their camp registration, it pays to start planning now. For many families summer brings about a change in your child care needs.

If you decide you need a summer camp for your children, whether it is just a week or two to fill in some gaps or the camps for the entire summer, now is the time to start looking at what options are available for your children. Here is a month by month breakdown of how to plan for your summer:

January: While some camps open registration extra early in December & January, that is not the norm. In January you should be starting to think about what your summer needs will be and doing some general planning. Make some time to sit down as a family and talk about:

  • What days/hours do I need care during the summer?
  • Will we be taking any vacations? For how long?
  • Do I want my children at home doing activities, playing with friends?
  • Do I want them to be in a camp setting with a variety of planned activities?
  • What is our budget for child care over the summer?

February: Several camps open registration February 1st, so February is a great time to start narrowing your camp choices down and really looking at what might interest your kids. Attending a summer camp fair is a great way to see what your child may be interested in and meet the camp’s director and staff and find out more about their programs.

  • Do you want a variety of camps and activities or just have your child attend one location all summer?
  • What types of camps are your children interested in? Dance, STEM, Horses, Art, Music: the options are limitless these days.
  • If you have multiple children that need camps, do they need to go to the same camp or are you OK with having them in different ones? When my kids were younger it worked great to have them at the same place, and certainly made my life easier! Now that they are older, their interests are different and they want to do different things.

Attention Summer! This year we’ll be prepared.

March: Many families see the end of Spring Break as their signal to register for camps, so camps see a higher volume of families signing up during March. Camps can be expensive ($150-$300 per week), so make sure you have thought through your budget and have planned accordingly. Most camps require you to pay the entire fee upfront when you register.

April & May: If you haven’t registered your children for a camp yet, don’t panic! There will still be openings in many programs, but make sure to register as soon as you can to ensure you get the program and weeks you want. If you will be needing a summer nanny, it is a good idea to start your search in mid-April so you have enough time to do all of the interviews and reference checks.

Whether you need full-time summer camp, part-time camp, a full-time summer nanny, or anything in between, now is the time to start making those decisions. Let us know if you have any questions or need help with your search!

2018 Best Of Child Care Award Winners


2018 Best Of Child Care Award Winners

HAPPIFAMLI, Senior Awards Correspondent 

November 5, 2018

 Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting for the 2018 Best Of Childcare Awards.  We appreciate all of your feedback and were overwhelmed by the response.  We are so excited to announce this years award winners.

Our previous Best Of Child Care Award winners for 2017 were: