Whether you're sending kiddos off to camp for the first time this summer or it has been part of the family routine for years, it's always fun to pack them new and useful wear and gear.
Hello, Mudder ...
We can't promise that they will actually write to you, but with this personalized stationery from RosanneBECK Collections and Twist Paper, available in myriad designs, they just might find the inspiration. Choose from dozens of card designs, from feminine to manly and elegant to whimsical, at Salutations. Prices are $12-$15 for a package of 20. Add personalization with a name or initials, $8 for black ink, $10 for color. Even simpler, Bonnie Marcus Collection offers a camp-themed paper pad with envelopes in doodle pink or sports blue, $9 for 60 sheets and a dozen envelopes. Both from Salutations, 2741 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth, 817-923-0450.
Choosing a water bottle that is both safe for your child and durable can be a challenge. The eco-friendly 22-ounce reusable water bottle by Lifefactory is a phthalate-, BPA-polycarbonate- and PVC-free bottle made from glass with a durable silicone covering, and it won't leach chemicals or leave a metallic taste in your mouth. $22 at The Greener Good, 925 Foch St., Fort Worth, 817-877-4767.
For nighttime chills
Send children to camp with a new favorite jacket, the camp hoodie from L.L.Bean. Made for both boys and girls, the jackets have a French terry-cloth exterior and a polyester fur fleece lining for warmth and comfort. We especially appreciate the full-coverage hood that won't slip down. Available in light green, brown, navy, red and gray for boys, purple, pink, light blue and green for girls; sizes small through extra large. $39.95 at www.llbean.com.
Summer outdoors doesn't have to mean mosquito bites and sunburns. The Badger SPF 30 Anti-bug Sunscreen does double duty. Made from natural and organic ingredients, it's also water-resistant and keeps working at full force even after 40 minutes in the pool. $18 at The Greener Good.
Whether it's for sports, hiking or just a trek from the cabin to the mess hall, they'll need good all-purpose tennis shoes. The Nike Free imitates the feel of running barefoot. It features a flexible rubber sole that provides comfort even after hours of wear and is virtually weightless. $69.95 at Luke's Locker, 2600 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-877-1448.
Locked up right
Send kids off to camp with a trunk that will really stand out. My Painted Trunk decorates personalized footlockers with names, colors and designs. Customers can bring in a trunk purchased anywhere, but the store recommends EverythingSummerCamp.com, which will ship directly to the decorators. Each order is fully customizable with your child's name ($50), a border ($45-$125) and additional symbols ($25-$35). Turnaround averages five days, but may take up to three weeks during peak season. www.mypaintedtrunk.com.
Pack it in
For teens who pack heavy or light, a mature and practical option is the Osprey Transporter. This sturdy duffel has room for everything your camper could possibly need and features internal and external pockets for maximum organization. It is available in blue, black and orange and comes in four sizes. $69-$99 at Backwoods, 2727 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-332-2423.