Going to sleepaway camp is not what it used to be -- no more packing T-shirts and bathing suits in a foot locker and calling it a day. Now children bring coordinated bedding in collapsible trunks, equipment for color war competitions and lockboxes to protect their valuables.
Then there are entertainment necessities from jacks to fans to headlamps. This year, peace signs and the tie-dyed look are the rage with girls; boys still go for their sports teams, the sales clerks say. Here are some places that cater to the sleepaway-camp crowd's needs.
LESTER'S : 350 Rte. 110, Huntington Station, 631-299-2222; 90 Northern Blvd., Greenvale, 516-626-1161; lestersnyc.com
Basics and paraphernalia, including autograph pillows and pillowcases for all the camper's BFFs to sign, hoodies with your camp's name airbrushed on, and foam egg-crate padding the size of a bunk cot. "It's like decorating a little room," says Jennifer Sperber, manager. "They get comforters, sheets, lots of pillows, a rug goes on the floor." Buy 100 name labels for $8.50, and the store will sew them onto everything you buy, gratis (including every sock).
NEIL'S CORNER SPOT : 8025 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-364-3942; 1063 Willis Ave., Albertson, 516-294-4425; neilscornerspot.com
Camp gear primarily for boys. Floor mats with New York sports team logos, autograph pillows shaped like soccer balls, basketballs or baseballs, environmentally correct water bottles. This year's hot seller: a fan that can throw off psychedelic lights as it spins. Neil's also sews on purchased name labels for free.
INFINITY : Woodbury Commons Shopping Center, 8285 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-367-6014
Owner Lori Bland specializes in customizing items with the name of your child's camp. Jacks, shoelaces, socks, decks of cards -- they all can say Blue Ridge or Timber Lake or Trail's End. She sells customized stationery with your child's name -- for instance, "Bunk Notes from Jenna." Her camp-colors nail polish is flying off the shelves at $7 a bottle, she says. She sells prepackaged candy for the bus ride to camp --"You can't cry while you're chewing," she says -- and popcorn colored in the camp's colors.
DENNY'S : Plainview Centre, 343B S. Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview, 516-681-4490, dennyschildrenswear.com . Denny's has other stores in Bellmore, Cedarhurst, Commack, Oceanside and Woodbury
Color-war gear such as signs and wristbands, camp stationery that makes it easy for kids to write home, miniature trunks that look like the footlockers of old. "The sales help know how the machines at the camp handle clothing better than I do," says Annie Hirsch of Jericho, who adds that's one reason she comes to Denny's to shop for camp clothing for sons Daniel, 11, and Adam, 13, who go to Iroquois Springs in upstate Rock Hill.
THE ANNEX SHOPPES : 330 Wheatley Plaza, Glen Cove, 516-621-1840, annexshoppe.com
Camp stadium seat chairs, Charles River lined-windbreakers and a tye-dyed sheet set. Color war T-shirts says "Go Blue" or "Go Gold." A blanket with the camp's name on it, such as "Camp Blue Ridge," is $49. The camp section is downstairs.
INMOTION : 1640 Merrick Rd., Merrick, 516-377-5845, inmotionclothing.com
Co-owners Harry and Renee Arje have been in business for 14 years, so they've gotten to know kids' names and their camps. "We know what camps need cot sheeets, we know which camps need twin sheets," Renee says. The store has fans, color war gear and autograph pillows. It also offers camp teddy bears -- bears wearing a hoodie sweatshirt with the camp's name on it.
Reader's pick THE WILD TULIP : 1 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale, 516-484-1455
Owner Bonnie Katz specializes in gifts to mail to campers or to bring up to camp on visiting day, such as the Camp Bunk box of questions to ask bunkmates or a big chocolate-chip cookie for the bunk to share. She also carries a towel-wrap in tween sizes, with a peace-sign emblem, for $25 to $40.