What's in an excellent camp care package?
July 27, 2015 8:42 AM   Subscribe

My 11 year old nephew is away at camp for a month and I want to send him a care package. What should I put in it? I'm not sure what is / isn't allowed at this particular camp. I'm thinking candy to share? What else would be awesome?
posted by travertina to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Mad Libs (and some pencils).
posted by Lyn Never at 8:47 AM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It should be easy to find out what is and isn't allowed at his camp, and I'd definitely start there. The camp should have a website -- if they don't, you should contact them by email or phone.
posted by kate blank at 8:48 AM on July 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I think it's be good if we knew something about him but not know him I can say what I'd send my 11 year old twin boys.

The book "Wonder" - it's summer reading for my boys.
A few comic books - SO many are not good for kids, make sure they don't say teen or worse.
A graphic novel or two. They liked the Amulet series.
A good sketch book with either super fine tip markers or good pencils.
The game "One night ultimate werewolf". My boys are obsessed with it.

They may have restrictions on food.
posted by ReluctantViking at 8:51 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

In addition to candy (if food is allowed), maybe throw in some Slim Jims or similar. I remember craving proteiny/salty like that when I was at summer day camp and running around in the hot sun all day.

Mad Libs are a good idea.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:54 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing Mad Libs. I also used to love getting cool band-aids with designs on them (still like them as an adult, actually), and interesting playing cards, since half the time we sat around in the bunk playing card games.

(Also nth the advice to make sure you know what is and isn't allowed. My understanding is that a lot of camps don't allow candy for a variety of reasons, e.g., don't want the kids to have sugar, problems with mice getting into it, etc. )
posted by O Sock My Sock at 8:54 AM on July 27, 2015

Another voice in look for website and guidelines. Ours refuses all packages not sent through camp care package vendor.

They also have a system to let us write them a letter they print out for mail call; I write short notes and fill the rest of the space with jokes and riddles.
posted by tilde at 9:05 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

The camp probably has a "no food in any care packages" policy-- to avoid attracting wildlife as well as to prevent hurting the feelings of the kids who won't be getting care packages and/or who have food allergies.

There are a number of companies who will put together something appropriate for the camp's rules that's not too over-the-top and can possibly be shared, like low-tech group games, etc. We used an old school mom and pop-owned place that ships all over the U.S. called Camp Pacs to create a fun little care package for our 7-year-old.
posted by hush at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2015

A deck of cards!
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:11 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our camp allows savory but not sweet snacks. They can't keep any snacks in their tents because of pests so even the savory ones are kept in some central repository.

I just mostly send letters... looking forward to other suggestions here.
posted by latkes at 9:19 AM on July 27, 2015

Several bags of balloons.
posted by hootenatty at 9:38 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 2nding a deck of cards assuming he knows some games. Along those lines there was this recent thread about camping-friendly game recommendations. (I will make the same suggestion here: Cosmic Wimpout!)
posted by usonian at 9:42 AM on July 27, 2015

I had no idea there were care package companies! Thanks!
posted by Mogur at 9:43 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

My mom used to put a $10 bill under my bar of soap in my plastic soap holder to see if I showered.
posted by PSB at 9:45 AM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

A cheap magnifying glass or pair of binoculars.
posted by Inkslinger at 9:46 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2015

Best answer: Nthing double-check with the camp what'll be allowed, particularly with food. Camps that do allow food will probably require it to go into a central repository inaccessible to wildlife; many camps just don't want to have to deal with this, so they forbid food in care packages.

Camp care packages I've sent and received have included: books, puzzle magazines, notepads, pencils and other drawing tools, embroidery thread or lanyard cord and a small pair of scissors to make friendship bracelets with, lip balm, extra batteries for my flashlight, card games (like a regular deck of cards, but also Uno, Fluxx), water guns (which I could understand being problematic in some camps, so again, find the camp website and double-check).

Counterpoint to hootenatty: balloons were actually specifically forbidden at my camp because if animals got ahold of them, they could choke on them.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Candy/snacks if allowed.

A fun card game like Poo, Illoom balloons, glowsticks, a book on how to fold paper planes and a pack of origami paper, those little plastic parachute guys that you can find in dollar stores/party supply stores.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 10:30 AM on July 27, 2015

Best answer: If he is into sports and has a favorite baseball team, newspaper clippings from several weeks worth of games and the MLB standings were a big hit with my kids. It assumes they do not have access to TV or internet which I hope is the case.
posted by AugustWest at 10:43 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

when i was a kid my summer camp banned candy and other junk food so i would hold off on sending anything edible until you check what's allowed/banned. they may also not allow anything with nuts in it because kids with nut allergies can get sick from just being in the vicinity of people eating nuts (when you smell something you are actually ingesting small particles of the thing).
posted by Jacqueline at 11:10 AM on July 27, 2015

Response by poster: I'm so glad I asked this question. It never occurred to me that certain things wouldn't be allowed and turns out food isn't at his camp. Plus anything sent in has to be in a certain size envelope.

Plus their website says "don't send care packages" so kids don't feel left out. Yet all the other kids are getting them and yep, he's feeling left out. Ugh.
posted by travertina at 11:58 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Disposable (waterproof) camera.
posted by Mac-Expert at 12:14 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mosquito bite relief stick.
posted by hooray at 12:27 PM on July 27, 2015

Best answer: Plus their website says "don't send care packages" so kids don't feel left out. Yet all the other kids are getting them and yep, he's feeling left out. Ugh.

Send a lot of something so he can give one to all of his bunkmates/age group members/whatever. It can be the cheapest piece of crap toy in the world (Chinese finger trap? I'm thinking Oriental Trading Company type bulk toys) but you'll be doing a really good deed.
posted by telegraph at 12:54 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks for asking this. I was going to ask the same question for my 9 year old nephew! One thing I know will be going in my care package is glow in the dark stars.
posted by jaksemas at 1:46 PM on July 27, 2015

Glow sticks (enough to share). Joke books. Luci inflatable solar lantern.
posted by Sukey Says at 8:06 PM on July 28, 2015

Response by poster: I've only heard "it was awesome" and no specifics, but here's what I put in there (given I had a 24 hour turnaround too):

madlibs, some pens & pencils, disposable camera, deck of cards, another card based game I can't remember, band aids that look like pickles, a squirt gun, fake moustaches, 4 rubber fingerpuppets & 4 blow up balloon-type punching bags (in the hopes he shared). Plus a print-out of baseball standings for both leagues for the day I sent it.

Thanks for the help everyone!
posted by travertina at 9:21 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

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