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Parents are spending hundreds to have other people prep and pack their kids for summer camp

June 7, 2024

The cost of sleep-away camp— like nearly everything else these days— is on the up and up, reports Business Insider.

But the staggering $15,000 price tag on some elite summer camps doesn’t account for the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, parents are now paying to prep and pack their kids beforehand, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

Some families are opting to outsource the pre-camp headache of checking off their children’s packing list and the post-camp slog of sorting through laundry, the Journal reported this week.

Camp costs these days start racking up long before the little ones hit the canoes. Many camps send out detailed packing lists, some of which include more than 100 items that parents are encouraged to procure for their campers, the outlet reported.

Last year, a mother of two wrote for Business Insider about the massive summer camp packing list that ran her nearly $5,000 after she secured the recommended 15 pairs of shorts, 15 shirts, 16 pairs of socks and underwear, multiple pairs of shoes, several towels and swimsuits, various jacket options, and two sheet-sets per kid.

Some camps go even further—suggesting kids come with brand-name camp chairs, decorative pillows, and outfits in multiple color options for end-of-camp “Color Wars,” according to the Journal.

Oh, and everything a child brings to camp in 2024 should be labeled or monogrammed. Duh.

 For many families with disposable income, outsourcing is now the solution

Beth Leffel, a Boca Raton mother, turned to Denny’s, a children’s boutique with stores in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, the first summer she sent her daughter to camp, she told the Journal.

The boutique boasts personal shoppers who work one-on-one with families, going item by item on each packing list to supply the necessary goods. Spencer Klein, whose family owns the business, told the outlet that the average first-time camper spends anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 at Denny’s.

After dropping about $2,000 at Denny’s and $250 at Party City the first year, Lefell told the outlet she now searches for deals and dupes of more expensive items.

Natalie Liberman, another Boca Raton-based mom, told the New York Post last year that she spent nearly $5,000 making sure her seven-year-old daughter was set with rainbow merch and monogrammed clothing items ahead of summer camp.

Personalized camp wares are the new status symbols, and influencers and online retailers have wasted no time capitalizing on the new trend, the outlet reported in June 2023.

Jody Geller, a Florida mother of two, started an online store in 2018 where she customizes camp gear, including $86 pillows and $38 water bottles. Geller told the Post that she often has orders that exceed $1,000. 

The services don’t stop there

Once the required items have been procured, some parents call in professional organizers to finish the  packing ordeal.

Dara Grandis, a mother of three in Manhattan, hired Meryl Bash, a professional organizer, to get her kids’ luggage ready for seven weeks away at summer camp, she told the Journal.

Bash offers an array of camp-related services, including making sure everything on the packing list is included, weeding out last year’s clothes that no longer fit, and supplying packing tapestorage cubes, and bags, according to the newspaper. Bash charges $125 per hour for packing days, plus $100 per hour for an extra packer.

Once the summer is over and young campers make their way back home, some families opt to outsource the post-camp laundry haul, as well, turning to businesses like First Class Laundry Services in West Palm Beach, Florida.

For $225 per trunk, the laundry company will pick up a camper’s luggage, wash and fold everything inside, and return the clean goods to parents’ front door.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider