Here are some fun ideas for summer camp care packages!
Camp care packages do not need to be big. It is better to keep the summer camp care item simple—a card, a little love note, or a small box of goodies is all it takes to put a smile on the face of a busy camper, help a homesick cohort, and share a long-distance hug.
To reach your child early in the camp session, send off the mail a day or two before camp begins. Likewise, do not send anything more than a card in the last few days of camp as the mail may not reach the camp in time.
Be sure, too, to read any camp literature explaining Mail Call policies. Some camps do not want parents sending candy or food, others have strict policies prohibiting items such as squirt guns or aerosol cans.
Glow Sticks: Sure, all kids enjoy flashlights near the sleeping bag, but most counselors announce “lights out” shortly after going to bed. A glow stick can be used to heal the fears of a first time camper, to help mark the path to the bathroom, or to hang in a nearby tree to keep the mosquitoes away from the tent! Stop by your nearby party supply store to see the variety.
Snacks: This is a tricky enclosure because many camp counselors will tell you that campers already have plenty of candy treats around the cabin. To keep the sugar intake low, consider snack size bags of cereal, raisins, trail mix, oatmeal cookies, or pretzels. If sugar does not concern you, try fortune cookies or tuck some notes into home-baked treats.
Small Games and Toys: Whether it’s Solitaire, Go Fish, or 52-Pick Up, there are far more than 52 ways to use an inexpensive deck of cards. You can find a deck at almost all discount stores. Other good gadgets include magnets, stickers, and party noisemakers. Party stores also sell miniature-sized toy favorites such as Etch-a-Sketch or Magic 8 Balls. The trick is to keep the toy small and simple. The novelty lasts longer, too, when there is only one toy getting the attention, so narrow down your selection.
Love Notes: A simple sheet of paper with “I love you” written on it may not seem like much, but it is an instant hug from home for your camper. I found a few of these in the bottom of my son’s suitcase one year and realized he had saved them. Sometimes, a little reassurance from home brings sweet dreams to an otherwise lonely night away.
Pet Photo: If you have a child who is sure to be talking about his fish, dog, or gerbil to new friends, he might appreciate a photo of Fido to share with his new friends.
Disposable Camera: If your child does not take a camera to camp, you may want to send an inexpensive disposable camera for him to get shots of his new friends before he leaves for home.
Welcome Home—Invite your child to pizza picnic in the family room or movie rental night with friends or even just the promise of an undisturbed bubble bath. Be sure to mention how proud he makes you and how you look forward to hearing about the fun he had at camp!
Mary Jo Kurtz is a freelance writer. She and her husband have two sons.
Updated: January 2014