Cooperstown All Star Village: What to Pack
We just returned from the BEST week at Cooperstown All Star Village. My older son’s 12u team competed in Week 8, 2021, and to say that this week was memorable would be an understatement. Since I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to the tournament, I wanted to share some tips we learned from our week.
Your child’s week at All Star Village is going to be fun, memorable, and exhausting. Staying in the bunkhouse with their teammates is part of what makes the trip so memorable. It also makes it challenging for parents to pack, not knowing exactly what your son will need during the week. Here are some tips I picked up from our week at All Star Village that can hopefully make packing a little easier.
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Packing for your Player
My biggest tip is to make everything as easy for your player as possible by packing only what is needed. You want to make sure they have plenty of clean socks and underwear, a couple pairs of ‘street clothes’ (which honestly, they won’t get much use out of of…) and a toiletry bag stocked with the basics of shampoo, body wash, tooth brush, tooth paste, and deodorant.
- Cooperstown All Star Village provides a recommended checklist of What to Pack on their website. This is a good starting point for packing. Get the checklist at this link.
- Pack extra underwear and socks. In previous years, laundry service was available for clothing other than uniforms. For 2021, that service is not available. Pack extra underwear and socks unless you have a washer and dryer at your parent accommodations, so you can wash midweek for your player if they run out of clean stuff. Two pairs of navy blue uniform socks are provided by All Star Village, and will be washed with uniforms.
- The rooms are damp and stuffy, despite being air conditioned. Our team brought blankets and thin sleeping bags and were totally comfortable.
- You need to pack your own pillow, sheets, and blanket. Now’s a good time to break out the old twin sheets from your son’s younger years, especially if you don’t mind it getting lost. Label it anyway.
- The mattresses are plastic covered for hygienic reasons. We brought antibacterial wipes to wipe them down.
- Pack one sweatshirt and one pair of pants (sweatpants, track pants, etc.) for the cool nights.
- You can help your player move in, but you won’t be allowed to help them move out. The hill to and from the Player Village is STEEP. Wheeled luggage is the way to go. An over the shoulder duffle bag fully loaded with your son’s dirty clothes is going to be challenging to take up the hill, especially when they also have to balance their bat bag, comforter, pillow, and any other personal items on their trip up the hill on checkout day.
Hygiene – Showering and Toiletries
- Buy multiple travel size bottles of personal items like shampoo, toothpaste, and body wash. Because of the short amount of time given to each team to shower, it seemed like everyone left something in the showers or lost something altogether. My son lost his body wash twice, not finding it until the last day, so we ended up buying travel size items to replace what he lost anyway. Fortunately there is both a CVS and a Walgreens close to All Star Village if you need replacements.
- If you can find an ‘All In One’ body wash and shampoo, that’s the way to go for this week. The fewer bottles your son has to juggle in the shower, the better.
- Pack toiletries in a labeled Ziploc Bag or Toiletry Bag. Here’s a link to the small toiletry bag that I bought for my son. It’s very small, but holds travel size toothpastes, body washes, and shampoo perfectly, plus a toothbrush holder. They have to walk to the showers from their bunkhouse, and are only given a short amount of time to use the showers as a team, so keeping the bag small, easy to hang and organize was the priority for me.
- A cheap pair of flip flops (for use in the shower) is 100% necessary.
- Beach towels vs. Regular Towels – Thinner is better. You’ll need to send at least one towel, for showering and swimming. A thin beach towel will dry much faster than a regular bath towel, plus it will take up less room in the their luggage. The rooms stay pretty damp so the thinner the towel, the more likely it is it will actually dry between uses. My son still came home with musty towels, but at least we tried!
- Your son needs to bring a swimsuit for showering. The showers are all out in the open with no privacy for the players, so they are required to wear swimsuits.
- Our coaches required that our players shower after every game, which ends up being two showers a day. This is another reason why you want towels that dry quickly, a hook for hanging wet stuff, and easy to handle toiletries.
Keeping your player ‘organized’ in the bunkhouse
You can help your player move in and get all their clothing and personal items stowed away. However, from what I heard, within an hour of the parents leaving the bunkhouse room becomes an explosion of clothing, pin bags, dirty socks, and baseball gear. Your player is probably going to come home with clothes that don’t belong to him, and you’ll spend the week after on a group text with your team parents trying to figure out whose stuff belongs to whom. Here are some tips I used (and some I wish I had!) when helping to keep your player organized during their week in the bunkhouse.
- In many cases, this may be your players first time staying away from mom and dad for an extended amount of time. Make it easy for your player to get dressed quickly everyday by giving them an organized system for finding everything they need. I sent 6 outfits for my son to wear when they weren’t playing games. For ‘street’ clothes – A tip I used from another baseball mom: individually package outfits (1 pair of shorts, t-shirt, socks, underwear) in large ziploc bags. In theory, that should help your son easily determine what is dirty vs. what is clean. It also helps prevent some of the crazy color combinations 12 year old boys seem blind to.
- Send 2-3 pairs of pajamas (or shorts and an old tournament tee, in our case) since laundry isn’t available.
- Give them a laundry bag so they can move dirty clothes into it as worn. Here is the link to the one we gave my son. Whether or not it actually gets used – no guarantees. But at least the option is there for them to stuff their dirty underwear somewhere other than their duffle bag.
- Bring hooks for the bunks. Our bunk house had hooks on the bunks, leftover from a previous team. We also brought additional hooks. Here is an example of the type of hooks we brought to hang on the bunks. Since there is no closet space, and the under bed storage is very limited (and pretty much unusable due to being dirty, and the drawers were broken in most cases in our bunkhouse) this gives the players a place to hang up wet towels, clean uniforms, string bags, laundry bags, etc.
- Label everything. Items are going to end up unitentionally in other player’s items. Our team is still trying to figure out the original owner of one unlabeled pair of black Under Armour shorts. A black sharpie to write your last name on the tag of clothing items should suffice.
- Order a laundry loop. This is the link to the Laundry Loop on Amazon. Our team ordered together and the coaches handed out the loops on check in day. These loops keep one player’s uniforms together when sent to laundry services for cleaning (for 2021, only player uniforms can be laundered by the onsite laundry).
Other tips for Cooperstown All Star Village
- For downtime, coordinate with your team to bring at least one wiffle ball set. Decks of cards and UNO are also great for the bunkhouse.
- You may want to give your player some spending money. The ‘Green Monster Milkshakes’ in the Village Shops section of Cooperstown All Star Village are extremely popular with the players, and at $7 a pop can add up pretty quickly.
- My son’s team didn’t use the arcade or the pool (it was cool and rainy the week we were there) so I can’t comment on those facilities.
- If you forget equipment, batting gloves, etc., Oneonta has a Dick’s Sporting Goods in town, with a pretty sizable baseball section.
In general, don’t over pack your player. You want to give them enough clothing and personal items to be comfortable, but not so much that they have difficulty keeping track of everything or moving out of the bunks on their own.
Did you like this post? I also wrote two related posts about our experiences in Cooperstown All Star Village and Cooperstown and the surrounding areas. Check them out below: