tuck3As the school year is quickly coming to an end, I am getting my three children ready for camp.  I never went to camp as a youngster but they’ve each been going since they were each 8 years old.  You can hear about my personal experience with ENST (empty-nest syndrome training) here and more fun with Summer Camp Math here, but what do I really know about their camp experience?

I don’t actually know a thing about my kids’ camp experiences beyond what I’ve gleaned from their Tuck Shop accounts.

tuck1The term ‘tuck shop’ originated in Britain, used in many Commonwealth countries, generally means a store that sells candy and sweets. It has taken a broader meaning at camps in Canada selling emergency sundry items, but still the primary vendor of candy at camp. As a result, the camp tuck shop is the mirage in the desert, the oasis of the seas; kind of like my Friday happy hour, I imagine. With my fee remittance, I am asked to include a sum to credit to their individual tuck accounts.

The camp my two boys attend annually charges me $70 each for their camp tuck shop account. They are charged $1 for each piece of ‘tuck’ (candy) and are only allowed 3 pieces a week.  It also carries emergency toiletry items like soap, toothpaste and deodorant, though I have no idea what these toiletry items cost since neither have ever touched the ones I pack and therefore has never has no need to ever purchase them. They also sell postage stamps.


Anyway, absent the cost of personal hygiene and letters home, the accounting is pretty easy:  At the end of 4 weeks I am refunded $58 ($70- ($3X4)) each.  I understand that “tuck” candy has become a heavily traded currency given its scarcity. I casually hear statements like, “I’ll give you two pieces of ‘tuck’ if your Mom’s brownies” and “trade you my three ‘tucks’ for your new bottle of Deep Woods Off” are covertly whispered during Visitor’s Day.  I can only imagine the tuck debt that is accumulated over flashlight poker games. I pray my boys’ have the discipline to trade their ‘tuck’ responsibly and in moderation only.

tuck2Compare this to my daughter’s camp that charges me $375 for her tuck account.  Clearly her camp tuck shop is a mini-Neiman Marcus with pine shelves. I was pretty curious what would necessitate a 500% difference in tuck shop credit, as I am sure anyone would.  Obviously, the purchases of camper note pads, waterproof notebooks, pens, stuffed animals, carves, toques, towels, song books, lip balm, necklaces, hoodies, charm bracelets, charms, sunglasses and flashlights really adds up.  Yes indeed, it really adds up. On the other hand, she avails herself of the laundry service and I am able to bail out some of her clothes from death by incineration, unlike the clothes of her brothers.

The good news is that the camp fun does not end when the ‘tuck’ account is depleted, otherwise they would not return year after year.  I guess the most important lesson I’ve learned about my kids’ camp experience can be summarized as follows:  What happens at camp, stays at camp, and parents are gone but not forgotten – because they pay the Tuck Shop bills.

Do you or your kids have a camp Tuck Shop story?

10 Responses to Summer Camp by Numbers; Tuck Shop numbers, that is!

  • Tuck Shop is a term I’ve never heard of. I love that your daughter’s Tuck Shop bill is so much higher. They must sell top of the line, couture. Candy wrappers must be lined in gold. My imagination is going berserk imagining what’s in that shop. I just have to know!

    • It’s amazing really … clothes, jewellery, journals, camp year books, you name it! She and I now go through this list and agree pre-departure what is an appropriate ‘spend’ because $375 is just a little excessive!

  • Tuck here is considered short for “tucker” – so a tuck shop sells food, meaning, meals. But they are light meals as it’s only a little shop, so for example meat pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches, burgers, etc. Some short order and stuff out of the food warmer. Also accompaniments such as milk drinks, jam donuts, etc. The school “cafeteria” is usually called “the tuck shop”. I’ve never heard of a tuck shop selling postage stamps! Funny how these terms get adopted in different ways.

    • Thank you, B, for sharing the meaning of tucker and tuck shop from your corner of the world. It is, indeed, interesting how terms get adopted! Here in Canada, I have never heard the term outside of the kids’ summer camp! Thanks for stopping by!

  • My daughter went to camp for the first time last year and is going back this summer. She bought a water bottle, that was it, she didn’t even buy a sweatshirt. But care packages of tattoos, nail polish, games, glow rings, and assorted other girly accoutrements were sent. They are not allowed to bring candy nor do they sell it. But of course there are contraband sweets that find their way in.

    • Yes! The Care Package! I used to mail them before they’d even left for camp so they would be there shortly after arrival! “Contraband sweets” – love it!

  • It makes sense the girls Tuck Shop are higher than the boys. We are the shoppers. How can you stand your kids being away for 4 weeks at a time? I would be the clingy one if I had to drop mine off for that long.

    • The first two weeks are easy (I *do* remember to slow down when dropping them off!), but the second two weeks are hard. Really hard. Really miss them. I’m comforted by the fact that they don’t miss me at all. At all.

  • I confess I was never brave enough to send my kids away to camp. It was harder enough sending to my mom’s. Keep in mind she’s on par with Bulla, a bar mistress and owner of a seedy bar on the docks. I thought that enough of camp life for them to experience. I’m still laughing about the difference in the boys and girls tuck shops. We girls must be high maintenance.

    • I really didn’t think this camp thing would last 9 years (and counting)… but then again that’s what I said about being a hockey mom too!
      I’m sure your kids will reminisce often about their vacations with Bulla – I mean, Grandma!

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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