A Hitchhiker's Guide to SUNIA

By: Alex Padilla

As you may or may not believe, I too was once a student at SUNIA, and from my time spent wandering the Goldeye Center I have come up with a list of items that are important for you to bring with you or leave at home. 

1. A comfort item. This could be that special stuffed animal you’ve had since you were four or a blanket you’ve had your whole entire life. Ideally, I’d suggest not bringing an item that special because it could get lost, forgotten, or wrecked at camp. However, I do think it’s important to bring a special item with you that’ll bring you comfort. As much fun as you’ll be having out at SUNIA, it can get to be overwhelming at times so it’s good to have that one item that can ground you and comfort you after a day of constant stimulation.
2. A towel. DO NOT FORGET A TOWEL! I made this mistake myself when I was a student and for the entire week, I had to use one of my t-shirts to dry both my body and my hair. Believe me, there is nothing worse than using a soggy shirt to dry yourself. IT DOES LITTLE TO NOTHING AND YOUR BODY IS COLD.
3. 2 good hoodies. They may bulk up your bag a bit, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. You need a hoodie to sleep in for sure, nights at Goldeye can get pretty cold without your dog to keep you warm (SO to Sprinkles, my Beagle and the love of my life). As great as the fetal position is for conserving body heat, it’s not always the most comfortable position in a sleeping bag. You'll also need it for running around camp. Mountain weather tends to be unpredictable so it’s good to be prepared on the off chance that it rains or gets extra windy. Having two hoodies will come in handy, especially for campfires. Every night you’re at camp we sing before going to bed. As great as burning wood smells, it feels icky to shower & get that fire smell out of your hair, only to wrap yourself in it once more when you step out of the shower and get ready for bed.
4. EARBUDSSSSSS!!! If you’re like me, music is incredibly important to you and you start to get antsy if you haven’t heard some bops for a while. Now I know, you’ve probably read the packing list already and know that we discourage electronics at SUNIA. However, there’s nothing stopping you from putting in your headphones before you go to bed for a little bit. Chances are your cabin mates wouldn’t appreciate you blasting your music while they're trying to sleep, or they could be for your own comfort when your newfound friends decide to talk for the better part of the night. Also, earbuds are less bulky and less expensive than headphones so if they get lost or stolen, it’ll be easier for you to recover than if you brought your Beats only to find them gone by the end of the week.
5. Binder or a duotang. Because we don’t have great internet access out at camp, most of our info packs and such are paper-based. So, to avoid losing any important materials we may give to you, it’s best to keep it organized and safe in a neat lil paper container.
6. An extra blanket. A regular sleeping bag should be fine, but you are spending a week in an area highly affected by mountain weather.

Now on to things you SHOULDN’T bring to SUNIA:

1. Books. You might love to read as much as I do, but you’ll likely find that there is no time at all to read during the week. You’ll be busy switching buildings, hiking Baldy, and having your own adventures to be absorbed in someone else’s.
2. Fried chicken, or any food for that matter. First off, there are no fridges available to put your food in so it will spoil. Second, it disturbs everyone else in the cabin: food smells and people don’t always like the smells. Third, it attracts the wildlife at Goldeye. And four, you won’t need to bring food, because the lovely Goldeye staff do a great job at keeping hunger at bay with the delicious meals they provide us with.
3. A full bottle of shampoo/conditioner/body wash. While there are showers at Goldeye and we do highly recommend you use them (otherwise you’ll leave camp more than a little ripe), you won’t always get the chance to use them. Some nights activities go on slightly longer than scheduled, or you’ll be too tired from climbing Baldy to want to shower so bringing full-sized bottles isn’t the greatest idea. They take up too much space, and if they spill in your bag it’s way harder to clean up than if a little travel sized bottle leaked. You can also bring dry shampoo, it’s quick and easy and it keeps the ick at bay if only just for a day.

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