Okay Campers, here is your cleanliness checklist:

In a few days, relative quiet will settle in my house as our eldest heads off for her first full summer at sleepaway camp.

In a few more weeks after that, the true peace will descend on our home as her oldest brother follows. Then, our family of five shrinks to a family of three for an entire month.

Sleepaway Camp. It’s like a child-parent sabbatical.

But kids, this is no time to slack off on basic hygiene, and I can only imagine how this all important priority in civilized life will backslide when you are out from the discerning eyes – and noses – of your parents.

I don’t know how you will manage without us, your nagging parents, to stay disease, filth, and cavity free, for the duration of your glorious summer camp experience. So for my kids and all those summer campers out there, here is a checklist:

These are nail clippers. They will keep your nails short and trimmed. Use them. They will prevent you from accumulating too much dirt underneath your fingernails, which may result in you becoming afflicted with a parasite that may take up home in your intestines.

These are bottles of shampoo. I have sent you up with ONE large bottle of shampoo, which is more than ample to last you the whole summer up at camp. If the shampoo bottle topples in the shower, please return it to its standing position.

You need about this much shampoo

not this much shampoo

to get the job done for an adequate cleaning.

Then, scrub.

Do not merely let the suds sit on the top of your wet head. But scrub and massage your scalp with the balls of your fingers. Then, rinse until you are squeaky.

And children who are at the age of adolescence and above, these are your armpits:  

Okay, so this not your armpit but the armpit of Tom Cruise. He’s an old guy to you but ask your moms about him and the movies he was in when they were young.

You must apply deodorant to your armpits at the beginning of EACH day, no matter how much it may tickle.

You must wash your armpits BEFORE you apply the deodorant. Application of deodorant after playing sports or even GaGa in the camp rec room and after an unpleasant odor has set in is ineffective.

This is your mouth:

Now, many of you may not have this perfect smile – yet. Your teeth may be imprisoned in those metallic braces, but know this: Your parents have spent about just as much money on those teeth in your head as they spent on that summer at sleep-a-way camp. So please: Brush, floss, rinse. At least two times a day.

And for those of you with braces, NO there is no substitute for gum while at camp, at home, or otherwise.

And please drink at least one glass of milk a day.

And change your sheets at least once a week.

And….  remember we love you and will miss you like crazy.

But most of all …. Have fun!


About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

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