In the last article, I gave you some ideas for teaching how to get irregular shaped objects into a fixed regular shape. That was a beginning skill for learning to pack for a camp out. Now it’s time to do some actual packing for a trip. Once you start packing for a trip with a child, you learn that clothes are pretty difficult for them to handle because they don’t stay folded when they pick them up. It takes larger hands and more manual dexterity than you might think. So, in this article about scouting and special needs children, I’ll show you how to prepare clothes for packing easily into a suitcase. I recommend starting with packing into a suitcase because it is less complicated than a backpack and should be fine for a beginning camping trip. Once they can pack in a suitcase, they will be able to learn to deal with a backpack. In the steps that follow, it’s best if you can have your child do most of the work themselves, but if you need to do part of it for a younger child, that’s okay, too.
An easy way to pack clothes for a camping trip is to separate them into groups and pack each group in plastic bags. Collect all the clothes from the packing list and put them on a flat surface like a table or a clear area of the floor. Fold them and sort them into sensible groupings. Pajamas and other bedtime clothes go in one pile. The first day’s clothes go in another (pants, shirt, underwear, socks–the whole set appropriate for the weather). Specialty clothes like swimming gear or cold weather clothes might go in other piles, depending on what you need.
Once your clothes are sorted neatly, find plastic bags that are the right size for each pile. For young kids, most of their clothes will fit into gallon size bags. I recommend the bags with sliding closures because they are easier to close. Then you should label the bags in some way that your child can understand. If they read, that’s easy. If they can’t, you could draw a simple picture. If you don’t label the bag, they’ll probably just open them all until they find what they need, defeating your careful preparations. Putting their name on the bag can also help the troop leader. Once labeled, open the bag up to make it easier for your child to slide the clothes in. New bags tend to stick shut and that can lead to frustration.
Now it’s time to put the clothes in the bags and roll the air out. Here’s a gallery of pictures to help your child do this themselves. Once the clothes are all in plastic bags, it will be much easier for your child to pack them in their suitcase.
There are several advantages to this approach in addition to helping your child pack. First, the plastic bags will keep the clothes dry if it rains. Second, you can push the air out of the bags, compressing the clothes and reducing the size of the suitcase you need. That’s important if you are taking a whole bunch of kids in your car and need to fit all their gear in it as well. Third, all kids and special needs ones in particular, have trouble keeping their clothes in order when they are camping. You get them up in the morning and it takes an inordinate amount of time for them to find clothes for the day. Pretty soon, the cabin or tent looks like a department store exploded in it. By packing in individual bags, you can help them keep themselves organized. Of course, it will still take some reminding to get them to keep things in their bags, but it helps.
I hope Scouting and Special Needs Children: Camping-Packing #3 has been helpful to you. In the next installment, I’ll cover handling all the other gear they need to pack. Your children will use these skills for all kinds of travel in their lives, so it’s worth taking the time to teach them to do it well.
© 2013, Margaret. All rights reserved.