One might think that packing all three of my kids off to camp is all about the gear.  But really?  It’s all about the math:

  • 3 giant Rubbermaid bins and 3 empty hockey bags sitting in my front foyer.
  • 3x = 12 (where x = sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, and canoe paddles).
  • U + (-U) = clean Underwear my son will pack.
  • Zero (0) is the amount of food to be brought or sent to camp (a rule which if not respected has a direct linear relationship to the number of tent visits by raccoon).
  • T-10 was when my daughter started packing compared to Lift-Off when my sons started packing.
  • 40% = the amount of laundry my middle son pulled from his dirty laundry hamper to complete his Lift-Off packing.
  • The area of one tent is equal to one half times the base length times the height of the tent.  But that doesn’t really matter because the mass of the belongings of its occupants expands to fill it to capacity.
  • 2 = the number of books BOTH my sons brought to camp, whereas this number to the power of 3 is how many books my daughter brought to camp.
  • $32.00 is roughly the amount of money my daughter will spend on postage stamps at the Tuck Shop (I probably should have warned them about the imminent run on stamps) while the 4 self-addressed stamped envelopes I send with the boys will be repacked for camp in 2013.
  • The number of showers they will all take during the month of July is a infinitesimal number.
  • A minimum of 3 bottles of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce is essential, my son stresses,  to stave off the effects of camp food.
  • Pi = 3.14 camps meals per day (not to be confused with slices of apple pi)
  •  E=MC2 = units of mass and energy are required to direct all this stuff into the car.

Now that they are 11, 14, and 16 you would think my kids would be fairly self-sufficient with their camp packing, given they now have experienced this exercise a combined number of approximately 23 times.  Yet, my daughter appears to have enough gear to outfit CFB Pettawawa, while my son might actually packing a toothbrush is an unknown variable.  Behold, why I check my kids camp packing efforts….

  •  If the number of bathing suits suggested is 2, the number my daughter will pack is 14 (even more if you consider some are two-piece).
  • If the number of pairs of underwear suggested is 6 to 7, the number packed by my middle son will be  2 (both of which will be tossed from the moving car after pick up).
  • About 8-10 pairs of socks are suggested to which both my sons usually reply, “Socks?! Who wears socks in the summer?!”

Despite all this number-crunching and the dichotomy between the theory of packing and the practice of packing, the bigger unsolved equation rests in my eagerness to get them out the door followed by my inability to enjoy the peace and tranquility during their absence.  This is what Empty Nest Training is all about.

Is a camper soon packing up in your household?

26 Responses to The Math of Summer Camp

  • Thanks for that round up. I’m sending my 14 year-old off to camp for the first time-for three and a half weeks! Lillian laughed at the number of bathing suits and said “What’s wrong with that?”
    Having to label everything is fun—not, considering she requires that all labels be removable. I cleverly bought those tiny size tags with “L” on them and wrote an “F” next to it.

    How do you stand all that peace and quiet? Her sister promised to randomly snap at me, storm off to her room, and beg me for a pony in her stead.

    • Oh I totally forgot about the labelling – that’s another 100 or so things to do! Very clever of you in ordering. I just use the last name, no initials. BTW, my favourite supplier is – a couple of mompreneurs 🙂
      Good luck to your daughter – I’m sure she will have tons of fun. I, on the other hand, *never* get used to the peace and quiet (and the dogs are really mopey). I scraped down the boys’ room so far of all its leftover food and Gatorade bottles. Yuck.

  • As someone whose math skills don’t even extend to balancing her checkbook, this amount of math is downright frightening! 🙂 I became a stepmom when the kids were 17, so I missed all of this…”fun.” Still, even now that they’re 24 and both living in different states, we have moments when it still gets this hectic. How do they do that?

  • Love this, Astra! My 11 year old is the only one going to sleepaway camp but so far this summer she’s been on one camping trip and about four sleepovers so I feel like we never stop packing. The gender breakdown you have is similar to my own kids. I just figured out why my (8 year old) son’s laundry hamper is never full. Recycling.

  • Oh, I forgot about those glorious camp packing days! What I always found exciting was the ratio of the amount of clothes that filled a suitcase…and then the half empty suitcase that returned home. We lost more clothes at camp!

    • I can actually say I’m probably grateful that the suitcase comes back half empty! I see from your site that you’re working on a book project this summer – best of luck! Can’t wait to read it!!

  • Whoa, I’m thinking you deserve a well deserved rest after all that math in camp preparation! Way to go Sergeant Major!

  • our daughters should be best friends. mine goes even further though, taking an array of over the counter medications and creams and a full first aid kit with her incase any untold medical emergency should arise. great post

  • You know the stamps on those self-addressed envelopes might be no good/not enough postage by the time next year rolls around. Just a heads-up. 8)

    If I were you, I’d be a splat on the floor, immobilized by exhaustion. Maybe there will be sleep in your future?

    Great post. Geez, you must be eternally busy with three teenage hockey players – whew!

    • Yeah, sucks about the stamps. Maybe I should just get over my wishful thinking!
      July is my month – NOTHING is on my calendar but get togethers with hubby and friends 🙂

  • What a hoot, Astra! I remember the early days when my daughter would pack at least 12 of her favorite stuffed animals for her getaway adventures. Now I’m lucky if she even lets me take a peek at what she’s packing for her camp adventures. On the upside, she’s become such a great packer that she usually has to intervene to help me with mine!

    • Yes! Forgot the stuffies! Her camp tuck shop sells them so we’re in deep doodoo (usually we go over the do’s and don’t’s of that tuck shop but in my exasperation over the boys’ procrastination I totally forgot!)!

  • Oh I remember those days. My kids were 9 years apart so it was a whole new game with each one. I have to admit that once all of the getting ready work was done and they were on the bus for the week, I REALLY enjoyed my time alone. There I’ve said it. Bad momma but they seemed to turn out ok in spite of me. Ha!

    • Absolutely! So nice to be free from a rigourous schedule! Though I must admit it takes me about a week to get used to the freedom!

  • Wow ….you make my head spin with the math!

    I find now the complexity of the bathing suits ( actual ‘swimming’ AND ‘waterfront supervision’….AKA for the boy counsellors) has been overrun by the requisite personal wall photos, ‘snuggly’ campfire blankets….and (dare I say it) cabin ‘ambience’ thingies.

    This year- thankfully- Kid#1 managed her own “pre-camp” inventory list that was carefully printed to assist with the ‘final days of camp pack up’. The latter usually means that she comes home a few Lululemon-less items. ( even with who I LOVE in ’em). And they do all this with great exuberance and nary a look back …….. sniff!

    Looking forward to seeing you at some point this lovely July 🙂

  • I know you don’t want to hear this but wait for the day the 16 is a year or two older and heading off to college. At that point you get into higher math – it’s staggering if not down right painful. On the other hand, you made me smile. I think sometimes being a mom is the hardest job, EVER. At every stage of their development we can’t wait for them to pass through it, grow up, and move on, but at the same time we cherish each phase deeply and think it would be OK if they stayed right where they are a bit longer. We’re always in a muddle – go, stay, grow, stop, mature, be a kid, poor things… poor us. It’s not a job I would recommend, really. You have to have nerves of steel and heart strong that Ironman’s fake one. Snif sniff.. but also smiling.

  • This is such a fun (and funny) post! My daughter is only 8 and packs at least 6 swimming suits just for a weekend trip to grandma and grandpa’s. 🙂 Your math skills are impressive!

  • Hope you get to enjoy some tranquility and I hope you get lots of mail from all your campers!

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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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