There are three steps to getting your child ready for camp and we have them all covered. You need to buy supplies, label them and prepare a care package (optional, but it is a nice idea!). We’ve compiled a list of local places that can make this process as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Step 1: Where to buy camp supplies
Most camps send out a list of all the supplies your little camper will need, including clothes, equipment and accessories. Keep in mind that camp is no place for posh new outfits. Older clothes and hand-me-downs are recommended because they must withstand the rigours of camp life. If you do purchase new items, look for inexpensive, durable, easy-to-wash articles. The following is a list of stores that specialize in outfitting kids for camp.
4358 St. Laurent Blvd. (corner Marianne St.) (514) 845-4231
You can find pretty much everything your child might need for camp at this store, whether you are looking for brand-name items or prefer a lesser-priced generic style. Parents come here to load up on kids’ underwear, socks, T-shirts, shorts, sneakers, bathing suits and raincoats. The store also carries duffel bags, sleeping bags, laundry bags, mesh bags and flashlights. Personalized name tags and an embroidery service are available to keep all that gear and clothing from getting lost.
Dorval Scout Shop
267 Dorval Ave. (near Carson Ave.)
(514) 334-3004 ext. 204
This shop obviously sells all Scout-related stuff but it also has products that are perfect for summer camp. Parents can find back packs, sleeping bags and liners, mats, pillows, flashlights, rain suits, hiking socks, shorts, hats, bug netting, pocket knives and biodegradable soap.
Mountain Equipment Co-op
Marché Central, 8989 L'Acadie Blvd.
The staff at Mountain Equipment Co-op is great at helping parents navigate the store. You can find sleeping bags and mats, back packs, waterproof bags, lifejackets, camping knives, clothing, footwear, rainwear, sun hats, etc. The store also carries organic cotton clothes for eco-conscious families.
Le Baron Sports
8601 St. Laurent Blvd. (south of the Metropolitan)
This discount outdoors store doesn’t carry children’s clothing, but has everything in the way of equipment that a young camper could need. You’ll find duffel bags, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, back packs, mosquito netting, camp chairs, and much more. Shop at the store or order online, by phone, or fax and have your purchases delivered.
2159 Ste. Catherine St. East (near the Jacques Cartier bridge)
La Cordée opened in 1953 as a co-op supply store for Scouts. The store now carries a wide range of outdoor gear and accessories. Parents come to La Cordée for basic camping equipment, such as sleeping bags, back packs, and duffel bags and for their selection of children’s sandals and sports shoes.
Camp de Base
173 Cartier Ave., Pointe Claire
This shop specializes in canoes and kayaks and carries the basics in camping gear. You can find sleeping bags, sleeping mats, back packs, dry bags or liners for back packs, life jackets, etc. Though they don’t sell children’s clothing, they do have merino wool socks for campers.
Step 2: Learn to love labels
This can't be said enough — if you want your children to come home from camp with all their stuff, you must label it. And that includes everything from underwear and socks to water bottles and life jackets. One of the easiest ways to do this is using an indelible marker — easily found at office supply and drug stores. Iron-on labels are also a simple way to identify clothing. However, you may need special labels for footwear, flashlights, etc. Here are companies that sell labels:
The Label Shop
Based in Montreal, this company provides sturdy, no-nonsense iron and sew-on labels for clothing. There are no fancy designs but the price — and the staying power — can't be beat. For more information, call (514) 484-8729 or visit www.etiquettescamps.com.
This company offers a huge variety of labels, for both clothing and other items. Choose from a variety of colours and designs. For more information, call (866) 306- 2235 or visit www.mabelslabels.com.
Stuck on You
Besides offering many different sizes, colours and shapes of labels, this company also has stationery (for writing home!), bags, pyjamas and beach towels. For more information, visit www.stuckonyou.ca.
Step 3: Send a care package
Going to a sleepover (residential) camp is a big step towards independence for children — and their parents. It's normal to miss each other, and one way to say “I'm thinking about you” is to send a care package. Most camps ask that you not send food or candy. Instead, stock a box with non-edibles, such as:
- colourful pens, stationery, stickers
- small activity books (MadLibs, where you fill in a story with silly words, can be a huge hit)
- a funny T-shirt or
- a new beach towel
Local toy stores like Oink Oink, 1343 Greene Ave., in Westmount, and KidLink, 5604 Monkland Ave., in N.D.G., are terrific places to search for nifty toys or gadgets to delight your camper. Store owners often know what items are “hot” (last year, it was pillows shaped like candy packages).