Summer camp packing list I originally posted this list a few years ago, but it continues to be a very popular post, so I decided to give it a quick update – especially as we start getting my daughter packed for camp.

Summer is here and I know there are athletes all over the country anticipating one thing… SUMMER CAMP!!  Many of the gymnasts at our gym go to week long overnight camps in the summer and I know one source of stress for many parents (and kids) is WHAT TO PACK!  Luckily one of the very experienced camp Moms from our gym was kind enough to share her master packing list with me to use as inspiration for the official Summer Camp Packing List.

How to use the summer camp packing list:

  • Print out the Summer Camp Packing List from the PDF files below – one is gymnastics specific and the other is for any sport
  • Slip the printed packing list into a plastic notebook sleeve or laminate it
  • Check off items as they are packed with a dry erase marker
  • Wipe off once everything is packed and pack in your camper’s luggage so she can use the list to re-pack her stuff on the last day of camp

Feel free to print out as many copies of the list as you like and share the list with your friends. All I ask is that if you post the list online (whether it be on your club or camp website, Facebook, or a forum), you link back to for the actual file download.

Have fun at Summer Camp!

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Hockey is mostly known as a sport for men only, but with the increasing interest of women, this is no longer the case. There is a long list of male hockey superstars and great teams but little attention has been brought to the growing eminence of female hockey. Since all the focus in the media right now is on the NHL and the playoffs, now is the perfect time to take a look at women’s hockey.

Today the number of female hockey players and teams is increasing – below, you’ll find four female hockey players who are tearing up the ice:

Julie Chu

Julie Chu

Playing in four straight Olympics and emerging with three silver medals and one bronze, Chu has had a very successful hockey career. As a member of Team USA, her goal of winning a gold medal in Sochi this year came up short in a loss to longtime rival Canada. Chu is also a member of the Montreal Stars where she continues her hockey play in Canada’s women’s league when she is not participating in the Olympics.

Meanwhile Chu is seeking development of a women’s league in North America. The existence of a women’s league will give American women the opportunity to play closer to home instead of seeking opportunities to play internationally.

Shannon Szabados

Shannon Szabados

With few opportunities for high level female players available, Olympic goaltender Shannon Szabados decided to try her hand at the men’s game. Szabados, a two time Olympic gold medalist with Canada as they eliminated the USA in Sochi, became one of the first women to ever play in a men’s professional sports league when she joined the Columbus Cottonmouths in the Southern Professional Hockey League. Szabados’ participation began last month in a lost to the Knoxville Ice Bears.

Although hockey is a dangerous sport, especially in the NHL, Szabados is an example of why women have the ability to play in a men’s league. Until women’s leagues become more developed, we may see more female players follow Szabados to the men’s leagues.

Hayley Wickenheiser

Hayley Wickenheiser

At the early age of 15, Hayley was selected to join the Canadian Women’s National Team, and has since led the team to 6 gold medals and 1 silver medal. Recently in Sochi, it was noted that Haley was key to her team winning the gold medal, despite playing with a broken foot. Making history similar to her female hockey companions, she was the first women to  play for a men’s team in a position other than goalie. She made history joining the Kirkkonummen Salamat, a team in Finland’s second division, and became the first woman to score a point in a men’s game in 2003.

Other than of hockey, Hayley has had other professions. Also great at softball, she participated in the sport at 2000 Summer Olympics, and was a softball analyst for CBS in their coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Erika Holst

Erika Holst

With so many great female players, there are some that are considered true legends to the game of hockey, and Erika Holst is definitely considered one of them. As the captain of the Swedish national team, she was always in attack mode on the offensive end. Her offensive prowess led her team to an Olympic bronze medal by scoring five goals in five games in 2002. To extend her great track record, she also led her team to the silver medal in the 2006 Olympics. The Swedish player also had a very impressive college record that consisted of consecutive NCAA championships from 2001-2003.

To maintain her greatness on the ice, Holst has a rigorous weekly training schedule that consists of 4 nights of training with the team, 2 games, and training on her own before lunch each day.

Holst also passes on her hockey experience to younger players as a guest at many summer hockey camps in Sweden. She also works for the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation, where she’s responsible for the development of women’s hockey.

As support for women’s hockey continues to increase and more leagues develop, hockey will finally lost its status as a sport for men only. These are just four of the many great female hockey players that deserve recognition at the level that men receive. These days it’s easier than ever to find and support women’s hockey, since women’s NCAA games can now be viewed through the sports channels, and many international games are available online and as Direct Television Specials. As long as women continue to be to interested in playing, women’s hockey will continue to flourish!

Categories : Ice Hockey
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If you ask kids what the FUNNEST sport is, you will get a lot of different answers – from soccer, to gymnastics, softball and everything else in between. Not a lot of them will raise their hand and say swimming. But if you ask the question a different way, like “what is the best part about summer?” I bet almost all of them will say SWIMMING and going to the pool.

First, from the press release: 

Ten industry partners, including USA Swimming, are collaborating on a summer-long campaign called SwimToday, led by five-time Olympian and 12-time medalist, Dara Torres. Launching today, the lighthearted campaign proclaims swimming as “the funnest sport there is” and showcases its many benefits in an effort to bring more kids who know how to swim into the sport of swimming.

According to the 2014 State of the Competitive & Fitness Swimming Industry Report by Sports Marketing Surveys, the exclusive research provider to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, nearly 80 percent of parents overlook swimming when choosing organized sports activities for their children after they learn to swim. Most notably, parents whose children had never tried swimming perceived it to be less fun than other sports. However, parents of swimmers rated the sport at the top in fun, teamwork, confidence-building and health and fitness once they gave it a try.

The campaign is endorsed and supported by 10 leading swimming industry partners, including membership organizations, coaches associations, swimsuit and equipment manufacturers, swimming media, and technology partners. The “Funnest Sport” campaign will also address common misconceptions about the sport, encouraging more parents to consider swimming as a youth sport option for their children.

Torres, a lifelong swimmer, entered her first international swimming competition at age 14 and in 2008 became the oldest swimmer to compete in an Olympic Games. Now a “swim mom” herself, she cheers her daughter on at swim practice and understands the challenges parents face as they make decisions about how their children will spend their time.

“I started swimming as a kid and it gave me skills I’ve used throughout my life,” said Torres. “Now I have an 8-year-old daughter who is on a swim team and loves it. I see her benefitting from the same things I did, and I want other moms to know how much fun it can be and what a lifelong gift it is for our kids.”

As part of this campaign, I was given the opportunity to talk with Dara Torres on the phone last week about swimming and why it is the FUNNEST sport. But, I already knew why! While Dara’s daughter is just now starting to swim competitively, all three of my kids have done so in some capacity – summer league, year round competitive team and high school swim – over the last seven years. I know it’s fun – not just for the kids either – it is a very family friendly sport.

Here are a few of the reasons my own kids love swimming on a team (and my 5 Reasons to Join a Summer Swim Team):

  • Like the image at the top of this post shows – there are no bench warmers! Every child can participate – from swimming in individual events to the incredibly exciting relays. My youngest daughter would be totally content just swimming relays -she LOVES being part of a team and working together as a team.
  • It’s social! They love sitting with their friends between races at meets, writing silly sayings on their arms, and cheering on their friends. Did I mention how much fun the relays are?
  • It’s great cross training. Swimming makes you stronger and builds your endurance – and that makes every other sport they do easier. Plus swimming is low impact – which means fewer injuries.
  • They can all be on the same team. Yep, that’s right! Especially in summer, all three kids go to practice and meets together. Boys and girls swim side by side and the big kids swim at the same time as the younger kids. It is like one big family.

In talking with Dara, we both agree that swimming teaches so much more than just swimming (that in itself is a life long skill).  Of course, it is most important that your child is watersafe at a young age – and swim lessons are great way to start, but once they can swim, competitive swimming can teach so much more. Things like self confidence, team work, setting goals and time management are just a few of them.

Over the past seven years, I have watched the friendships made at the pool grow – not just with the kids either. As swim parents, you have to get involved, too. From timing to officiating, concessions and awards, it takes volunteers, but some of my closest friends are those I have met timing or helping to run swim meets. I asked Dara what job she usually does at her daughter’s meets and she responded, “timer.” Timing a meet is a blast – you get to see every race and be right in the middle of the action!

Summer swim season for us starts the Tuesday after Memorial Day and even though only one of my kids is swimming this summer (well, maybe two), we are so excited for another FUN summer of swim, friendships, team spirit, and staying fit!

For more information on getting started with a swim program in your area, visit


Categories : Swimming
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