Packing List

I KNOW I SAID I wasn't going to be writing much, but as it almost always happens, a couple of gems dropped right into my lap and it would be a sin shame not to share them with you.

All 6th graders in our county school district go on this three-day, two-night trip known as Outdoor Ed. It's at a nature center located not far from home, but it's miles away because the kids sleep in cabins and are expected to commune with nature. Bugs and all.

In preparation, the school sent home a helpful packing list, which I have included below with my comments in italics:


This list includes mostly what you'd expect: sleeping bag, two pairs of jeans, long-sleeved and short-sleeved T-shirts, a jacket or sweater, sneakers or hiking shoes, socks, pajamas, underwear (yes, I guess some kids need to be told to pack undies). It continues:

11. Deodorant (non-aerosol). If you ask me, for a bunch of 11- and 12-year olds, that ought to be FIRST ON THE LIST. And also last on the list.

13. Raincoat or poncho and rain hat. Because every 12 year old boy has a rain hat.

14. Plastic bag or other container for dirty clothes. Such as a hermetically sealed device that will contain the stink? And who's going to make the kids actually put the dirty clothes into the dirty clothes bag when at home they can't be bothered to put them in the hamper in their bedroom? They'll just put 'em right back in their same duffel bag, probably. Or not. Either way. You should see their room.

15. Toilet articles: Toothpaste and brush, soap and soap dish, bath towel, washcloth, comb/brush. Right. First of all, I would have to pack his Axe body wash, because he's all about the liquid soap, when we force him to shower twice a week. And when he does, he's in there for hours. I just don't see him feeling the urge to shower at some nature center camp bathroom.

17. Book to read. Because listen, kids, you are going to be unplugged for three whole days. Cold Turkey. You might experience a headache, the shakes, and night sweats. But just play through the pain; we promise it'll pass. In the meantime, sit quietly in a cabin with five other friends and you can all read a nice bedtime book, mkay?


1. Pillow and case. (This is optional?)

2. Water Bottle (not the throwaway kind!!)

3. Compass (How about a GPS? Or are they going to be teaching orienteering?)

4. Small games (again, kids, NO VIDEO, think about it – they mean Scrabble and Battleship and Mastermind and Checkers. Don't worry, we'll explain later.)

5. Flashlight ("working batteries" is implied on the list but can never be assumed at my house)

6. Camera (preferably disposable) (Because you have to leave your cellie behind and therefore won't be snapping photos with it)

7. Insect repellent (non-aerosol)

8. Stationery and stamps (In case you get so homesick for Mom and Dad and your brothers and you want to write a letter to tell them how much you love them. Do you even know how to write a letter, kids, with a pen, on some paper, that's longer than 140 characters and contains no abbreviations?)

9. Binoculars (so the boys can spy on the girls' cabins?)

10. Lip balm (mascara, eyeliner, blush… oh, wait, sorry, got carried away)

11. Shower cap (because, girls, don't be thinkin' you're going to blow-dry and flat-iron your long blonde hair – plan on a 3-day ponytail instead)

12. Watch (I'm pretty sure the kids nowadays don't even know what a "wristwatch" is.)

13. Alarm clock (one per cabin will be sufficient) (except that The Boss doesn't know who else is in his cabin) (Is there electricity???)

14. Handkerchief or bandana (gather some food, tie it up in the bandana and put it on a stick, hobo-style, then make a break for it; you'll never have a better chance to run away)

15. Shower shoes (not necessary if you only shower twice a week, BOSS)


1. Food (except first-day lunch) (WE WILL CONFISCATE YOUR CANDY BARS…)

2. Soft drinks in throwaway bottles (Are there no trash cans or recycling at the center? or are we making an environmental statement? Can he bring water in a throwaway bottle? How about cans of soda? Are cans OK? Juice boxes? Capri Sun? Why just plastic bottles?)

3. Hair dryer (this one's aimed at the girls)

4. Matches (!) (They don't specifically prohibit a lighter, though…)

5. Firearms (!??!?)

6. Sandals (for outdoors) (The "No Tevas" clause)

7. Sheath or pocket knives

Is it just me or is the order of this list is funny? With "sandals" wedged in there between "firearms" and "knives"? And really, kids, think about it. If you have to leave your cell phone behind, it should go without saying that you won't be permitted to pack heat there, either. And while I'm at it – if you have to tell a 12 year old to leave his handgun behind, you should probably also remind him not to smuggle in those little airplane-sized bottles of alcohol stolen from mom and dad's liquor cabinet. And Dad's cigarettes that he hides in the car – you know where – because it doesn't say you can't bring a lighter. Only matches. Just sayin'.

8. Money (nowhere to spend it)

9. Curling iron (I would have included this with "hair dryer") (This reminds me of the time I dragged a giant hair dryer and curling iron across all of Europe right after high school. My electrical adapter couldn't handle my dryer's voltage. Biggest mistake ever. But I thought I HAD to have it. Hey, I was 17.)

10. Radio, tape player, phonograph (*snort*), electronic games. (Dear Our School System: You might want to have someone who didn't grow up in the 1950s revise this list because Kids Nowadays don't know what a phonograph is and you might have to explain what a tape player is, too.) (But what kid in the 1950s would have tried to smuggle in a phonograph, anyway?)

11. Aerosol spray (Which is probably not listed next to matches for a reason. Just sayin'.)

8 thoughts on “Packing List

  1. I know, right?? A Facebook commenter wondered if the reference to “tapes” included all varieties – cassettes, 8-tracks and reel-to-reel. I’m assuming it does. And those mini-cassettes too. And all cassingles.

  2. OK I was stopped DEAD in my tracks by the “No Tevos” clause. Now, there is TiVo which is something that you want to have Mom and Dad program at home so you can catch all the missed episodes of iCarly and…well whatever it is that 11 and 12 year olds might watch and then there are Tevas which I buy a pair of every single year! They are expensive but they are BY FAR the best nature sandals in the entire world…quite possibly the universe. Is that what they meant? Because seriously, if so, the lady (probably the 80 year old by the mention of a phonograph!) that created this list, needs to put the crack pipe down!
    Of course, I hadn’t thought about only wearing sneakers because they might be hiking about the mountainside…but to specifically outlaw Tevas? Makes no sense to me. Or am I missing something?
    Oh and dang! That list is long that I’m surprised they neglected to prohibit bringing peanuts or any product that might have been made in a place where peanuts or peanut by-products are made. Oiy!

  3. YES, Tevas, dammit, you're right – I'll change it. Thanks for catching that. I don't wear them myself; too many hangups about my toes. The brand-specific commentary was mine; the list simply said "no sandals (outdoor)" which I think was simply to say, sneakers or hiking shoes only.
    And please know, that the 6th graders I know gave up iCarly a year or two ago… but I could see where girls might still be into it. Cute show, actually!
    Good point about the non-allergenic foods, though I think the full food prohibition probably covers that. The administrators seem to be much less uptight about life-threatening peanut allergies in middle school than they were in elementary school…

  4. Beer. They didn’t say anything about beer, unless I selectively skipped over that part.
    Sounds like fun! Whatever you do, don’t let him bring anything aerosol, the whole world might come screeching to a stop based on how many times it’s listed here.
    Devo. That’s what I see when I read tivo or tevas. Whip it good! Believe I saw this video when MTV first aired, and Martha Quinn was a VJ, and George WAshington chopped down the cherry tree.

  5. Maybe they could smuggle beer in one of those reusable water bottles? Because they wouldn’t want to be throwing bottles away…
    I totally remember Devo’s Whip It video.

  6. I’d hate to see the list if he was going for a week! Stationery and stamps??? What time is mail pickup!

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