What to Bring to Grown-Up Camp

by Bethanne Patrick
Originally Published: 

You, yes, you there, staring at the packing list from Camp Tumbleweed—the one that requires a minimum outlay of $500 at Target and the contemplation of which sends you tipping the weekly box of wine on its edge for the last few drops. Yes, you! What if you didn’t have to do advanced-laundry-bag algebra (where X equals your child, Y equals clean clothes, and X over Y means they may come home with an assortment of other children’s undergarments)? What if you didn’t have to jockey for the last set of twin jersey sheets at Bed, Bath & Beyond?

What if you got to go to camp, instead? (It’s a trend!) What would an utterly grown-up camp packing list look like?


Bikinis, if you like them. Baggy caftans, if you don’t. We do recommend something to cover any parts you’re particularly fond of (think chiggers). Thank us later.

Whatever garments you do choose to sport, keep them clean. And if you choose the naked option, keep your various parts clean. We prefer to save department of health visits for emergencies, like third-degree burns from the nargileh.

After the Tory Burch brawl in 2012, we ask that logos be kept to a minimum.

Feel free to forego socks if you hate them, but note that at grown-up camp, no one wants to hear about your blisters.


Similarly, we know you brought the cutest flip-flops ever to show off your pedicure, but stub your toe once and you’ll be searching through the bin of mismatched Crocs along with the rest of us.

Remember: Flip-flops, Crocs and all of your other ugly, eco-parent footwear make great shower shoes (athlete’s foot).


Cleanliness counts, but hair products have no place at grown-up camp. Let your freak flag fly: curly, straight, gray or sparse.

Management has long forbidden most scented soaps, gels and douches. If you need a list of 21st-century-approved aromas, please ask at the office. Be prepared to surrender any Love’s Baby Soft, Anais Anais, Poison, Giorgio, Brut and Drakkar Noir, among others.

We cannot accommodate your electric toothbrush or your Clarisonic battery refill needs, but with a note from your doctor, vibrators can be recharged at the clinic.


Your John Robshaw and Frette sheet sets are lovely, but we can’t guarantee dyes will withstand the camp washing machine’s boil-in-bag setting.

Our platform tents mean you don’t sleep on the ground, but bring a tarp anyway. It can double as a rain poncho, a mattress protector or emergency shelter (they’re old platform tents).

Anti-dust-mite pillows and their covers may need to be shaken out daily in case of spiders.


The camp staff cannot accept responsibility for your Crème de la Mer sunblock. Keep it in your lockbox.

Your plant-identification handbooks can make the difference between a lackluster camp salad and one filled with tasty microgreens. Avoid the mushrooms.

Speaking of salad, the kitchen has no kale of any variety, but we do keep a box of chia seeds in the pantry in case you want to shake up your own pudding.


There is no point in wearing your Apple Watch, since there’s no Wi-Fi or Internet … but wait. That’s not why you’re wearing it anyway.

All editions of Cards Against Humanity must be checked by your counselor for contraband decks of Trivial Pursuit.

Premixed cocktails are approved (some of those are delish!), but you must provide your own bar fruits.


You can bring devices, but all Wi-Fi and cell service stops at the barge crossing the river. That means: no Kindles, unless they’re fully charged, with backup batteries; no digital crossword puzzles, unless they’re already on that fully charged Kindle; no Words With Friends or Candy Crush; no streaming video. If that creates a medical situation, please see the nurse.

Money for the camp store will be deposited directly into your account and cannot be loaned to fellow campers or used in payment for services to fellow campers. You have been warned.

We never found out who left those creepy pictures in the counselors’ hut last year, so all cameras have been forbidden; the new arts-and-crafts class in courtroom sketching will help you create lifetime memories.

Please Don’t Bring

Weapons of any kind, and that includes Krazy Glue (Andrea is doing just fine, thanks; the grafts are healthy).

Pets, unless they are assistive or therapy animals. Please also refrain from adopting amphibians and small mammals from the camp grounds.

Medications for which you don’t have a prescription, although we may look the other way if you share.

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