My daughter is headed to sleepaway camp for the first time later this summer, and I have already started researching a list of sleepaway camp essentials. She is absolutely thrilled about this new adventure, so much so that her bags are practically packed and by the door, a good seven weeks ahead of schedule. I love her enthusiasm, especially since I was a big fan of summer camp myself back in the day (of course, now that I'm the mom in the situation, I may very well cry when the bus door closes). In the meantime, though, I've got shopping and researching to complete.
The benefits of sending your child off to camp have been widely reported, among them gaining independence and making new friends, as well as learning how to work with others and make choices without a parent there to weigh in on the decision. While I don't think going to sleepaway camp is necessarily for every child (my younger daughter, for example, will not be interested, I don't think), it can be an incredible experience for those that choose to embrace their burgeoning independence. And is there a better place to learn archery? I don't think so.
As far as packing goes, research-wise, the term "less is more" seems to apply, and it's very possible your child will not make it home with every item they originally packed. So, don't send sentimental items they may potentially lose, and remember, clothes will get dirty (i.e., don't send anything you aren't okay coming home with stains). And to all the first time sleep away campers out there, have so much fun!