Whether you’re headed to soccer, baseball, football, track, or another youth sports competition, there can be a lot to bring. Obviously, you’ll need your young athlete’s uniform and equipment, but that’s just the beginning. Here are the ABCs of packing for your next sports tournament.
A: All the snacks. When it comes to food, err on the side of packing too much. An insulated cooler works wonders, although if you’re going to be outside all day, avoid anything that could spoil or melt.
B: Blanket or old sleeping bag to sit on and mark your “spot” on the sidelines. A waterproof underside (or a separate plastic layer underneath) is helpful if the grass is damp.
C: Chair, if you prefer not to sit on the ground. There are some pretty luxurious camp chairs and cleverly designed bleacher seats on the market these days. You (and your lower back) won’t regret investing in a good one.
D: Do-it-yourself canopy, tent or sun shade. Actually, some of them require multiple people during setup, so ask your fellow spectators to pitch in.
E: Entertainment for siblings who are along for the ride. Dollar-store items, sand toys, bubbles, Nerf balls and comic books are sure to be crowd pleasers.
F: Fans – That is, the mini portable kind that blow mist at you. On a hot day, you’ll sing the praises of whoever invented this contraption.
G: Gallons of water. Hydration is crucial for your young athlete and your crew of spectators. Fill everyone’s water bottle at the start of the day and bring additional reserves in a cooler.
H: Handwashing supplies. Go for the triple crown by bringing hand sanitizer, wipes, and a pump bottle of liquid soap. You won’t even flinch when the public bathroom’s soap dispenser is (of course) empty or when a porta-potty is your only option.
I: Ice. Keep a resealable bag or container of it in your cooler for refilling water bottles or dealing with minor injuries. Another idea is to pre-freeze wet washcloths to be pulled out mid-day for an instant cool-down.
J: “Just in case” bag of first aid-type supplies such as Band-Aids, insect sting ointment and kids’ pain relievers.
K: Knowledge of any serious allergies among the team members, siblings and extended families. This is especially important if you’re providing team snacks or planning a group barbecue at the tournament site.
L: Liquid dish soap for washing water bottles, mouth guards or food containers back at the hotel.
M: Markers, so siblings can doodle or make a sign to cheer on the team. Markers (especially washable ones) are a winning choice because they don’t melt, break or require a sharpener.
N: Notebook. Nothing personal against colouring books, but a large, coil-bound notebook is a hundred times more versatile. Kids can draw pictures, write up a team roster or play Xs and Os. Sheets can be torn out to share with others or for you to scrawl a quick to-do list.
O: Obscure items, like scissors. It might sound crazy, but when you need scissors, there’s no great way to improvise around it.
P: Pillow. This is handy to have if you’re staying in a hotel or have a long, early-morning drive where your young player can get a few extra Zs.
Q: Quiet time activities. A tournament is an exciting experience for your child, but you may also want to incorporate a bit of down time. Bring a book or music player with headphones for them (and maybe a magazine for yourself in case of a rain delay).
R: Resolve, Shout or a similar stain remover product in a portable size. You may also want to bring a small container of laundry detergent for hand-washing grimy jerseys or undergarments (and hanging them to dry over the hotel shower rod).
S: Sun protection. Don’t skimp on this. You’ll need a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. Try stashing the sunscreen in the cooler so it feels more refreshing when re-applied.
T: Towels. A must-have multi-purpose item for general clean-up, or for sitting on if extra fans show up. Use a plastic bag to keep it separated from everything else, especially if it gets wet.
U: Umbrella, for rain or sun.
V: Video camera, regular camera or smartphone to record memorable moments.
W: Wagon to haul it all from your vehicle to the field.
X: X-tra clothes for all conditions. Bring something cozy for when the temperature drops, and swim gear in case the sports complex has a splash pad.
Y: Your call about screen time. Some families prefer not to have iPads or other devices at the field, while others see no problem with a bit of screen time while resting up between games.
Z: Zippered duffle bag or backpack to carry it all. There are also upgraded solutions like a cooler on wheels or one of those fashionable rectangular totes.
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