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A new type of summer camp - "Camp Organization," Day 1

Hey Moms.  OK.  So it's kind of a boot camp meets summer camp meets organization concept, but our Queen of Organization has dreamed one up for you and the kids, especially those that are home from school, home from camp, not going to camp, have nothing to do this summer (but sleep and eat around your house) or are working and living at home this summer.

It's sure to elicit a few groans, but in 5 days,  Amy Morris, will have them and you, better organized.  

The focus of attention?  The bedroom, naturally!

This is the first of a five-part series this week.  Let the countdown begin today.


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Kids home this summer?  Here are some tips to get them organized - in ONE WEEK!!!  I like to call it Camp Organization because each day a new task is tackled; similar to a camp activity.  Set aside a reasonable amount of time each day, Monday to Friday, to take on a different organizational area in your child's room.  Breaking down the tasks over the course of a week, your child will not be overwhelmed.  Additionally, consider rewarding your child at the completion of each task.  Doing so will make them more apt to participate and do a good job.  I'm not suggesting an ongoing reward, because the goal is to get your child organized and to have them maintain their newly organized rooms because THEY WANT TO, and not because they are receiving a gift for their ongoing efforts. 

My children worked extra hard as they knew there was a $25 iTunes card at week's end.  If your children are anything like mine, this reward was the ultimate.  The benefits to Camp Organization include not taking time away from academic year studies and busy athletic and extracurricular activities, children being more apt to participate (especially on a dreary weather day) and the reward incentive. 

As a parent, it is an activity that can be done together - organizing is the goal, but also considerate it as quality family time.  It's a wonderful opportunity to converse and laugh with your child.  Also, organizing during the summer "down time" gives your child the ability to learn and apply his/her new organizational skills in a relaxed atmosphere prior to the hectic start of a new school year.

Day 1: The Desk

The dreaded desk!!!  It is the best place to start as it is often the collect-all, dumping ground.  Sort through last year's academic items and store or dispose as necessary.  Set up and organized summer assignments and to the extent possible, start organizing for the quickly approaching new academic year. 

Starting with the top of the desk, sort books and papers to save, donate, recycle, trash or to-be-passed-on to another student in or out of the family.  Most public schools collect books at the end of the academic year whereas many private schools do not as students are responsible for purchasing books. Check with your private school's book store as most take back gently used books and resell them in following years.  Consider used books to be  given (or saved) to a younger sibling or family friend who will utilize them. 

Sort loose papers to distinguish those that need to be saved and those that can be recycled or thrown away.  Place papers you are saving in identifying folders.  Depending on the amount of papers you are saving, label a single folder with the academic year, for example "7th Grade" or label multiple folders with the academic year and subject.  These folders can be further organized into a plastic file storage container (available at most office supply stores or office supply departments in a discount store).  Other options for storage include over-the-desk desk shelves, filing cabinets and archive/banker's boxes - also available at the previously mentioned stores. 

Once paper and books are sorted, turn your sights to the smaller items; pens, pencils, note paper, scissors, rulers, clips and any other miscellaneous odds and ends that have piled themselves atop the desk.  Continue next with the desk drawers - sort all the items into piles including but not limited to photos, magazines, magnets, mementos, etc., creating as many piles as necessary.  When the desk is empty of all its contents, the task now is to put the items back in an organized manner.

Take a visual assessment of the piles you created.  Place rubbish items in a bag and remove from the area.  Place items to be donated or given away in a separate bags/boxes and place outside the room.  Only the items to go back into the desk or be stored elsewhere in the bedroom should be left.  Determine the types of storage items required.  Suggestions include plastic cubes, plastic covered storage bins (in multiple sizes), desk "in-drawer" organizers, desk caddies, cups, baskets and photo boxes.  Writing instruments, if just a few, plus scissor and ruler can be placed in a simple cup or desk caddy to sit on the desk or in an "in-drawer" organizer.  If there are a lot of each of these items, place them in a plastic bin with a lid.  Take a step further and sort them by type; pens, pencils, magic markers, crayons, etc., place in separate containers and label the container so they are easily identified.  If there is no room in the desk to store these items, store in a nearby closet, armoire or bookshelf.  If they are stored in open view, choose a pretty, decorative container.

For mementos and photos, use plastic storage pockets, plastic storage boxes or cardboard photo boxes -typically available in an office supply or craft store.  They can be placed in a bottom desk drawer, stacked in the closet or on a book shelf.

Once all the items are sorted and placed back in an organized manner, take a deep breath and congratulate your child (and yourself) for a job well done. 

Stay connected, Camp Organization Day 2 tomorrow!