Chloe Girvan: Mom Interrupted


Camp Care Packages: How to Stay Close to Your Camper

How to build a creative care package summer campers will love.

My kids are gone to camp and I am really excited for me...I mean them. Instead of fretting about their safety while they are gone, I choose instead to torture myself with visions of them crying alone in their bunks, walking slowly behind a cheerful group, or hiding in the bathroom for the duration of the dance. To summarize, I worry about them being sad.

Most camps send a list of technical gear needed to ensure the physical wellbeing of your child. Getting kids and parents ready for camp emotionally is an entirely different bag. To make the transition easier on all of us, I try to stay connected using the packing process, mail, and a package or two.

Pain Prevention 

When it comes to packing I only have a few musts. First, no labeled underwear. At age 12, seeing your blueberry-patterned cotton briefs held overhead at a lost and found co-ed campfire is a near death experience. Ask me how I know this.

While discussing the potentially scarring, a period preparation kit is necessary for any preteen girl. On the sweeter side, it is also fun to sneak a small stuffy and welcome note into a camp duffel. I am also a big fan of hiding Smurfs in their toiletry bags.

Mail Call

Once packing is done and they are off, it is time for mail. When writing to potentially homesick kids, it helps to keep it light. Sending a funny news article, comic, or letter from the family dog seems to work well. Recently I've started sending the kids weird postcards, collected from my youthful travels, with notes like: “Sunny Greetings from Guyana!” and “Ahoj from Prague!” The purchase of a camp email package makes it easy, quick and affordable to send your love. In hopes of receiving mail from my campers, I pack preaddressed, stamped notecards and set low expectations. I use permanent stamps because happy and busy kids don’t seem to write home very often. This way I can repack unused note cards the following summer.

The Package

A great package from home need not be fancy or expensive. Camp costs enough! To save on postage, choose objects that are light, flat, and crushable. It might be necessary to send care packages before campers leave home, especially if your kids are attending a one week session. Camp mail is not always delivered directly so even if it hits the post office box on time, it may take a while to actually find its way into camp and to your child.

Building Your Stash

Care packages are a bit harder to construct these days as food is rarely allowed. This saddens my husband as he has fond memories of eating his camper’s treats from home, telling the kids that the raccoons had broken in again.

To avoid last minute panic shopping, I have started to collect items throughout the year. Keep your eyes peeled when shopping for other occasions as most holidays provide a wealth of little goodies to tuck away. Dollar stores, pharmacies, Michaels, and Chapters are excellent places to assemble a package. If you know how many campers are in your child’s cabin, it might be nice to send multiples of small items. This helps to avoid sadness in campers yet to receive mail. On the flip side, having the opportunity to pass out treats to a new group of friends gives a shy child the opportunity to engage.

Shopping List

Below is a list of some of my favorite camp care package items. Happy camping to your campers and cheers to celebrating the silence!

Cabin Décor

  • Magazines With Small Removable Posters (HARRY STYLES ANYONE!?)
  • Patterned Duct Tape  
  • Skit Materials
  • Paper Masks
  • Plain Paper
  • Face Paint
  • Silly Sunglasses                 
  • Thick Markers
  • Stick-On Mustaches
  • Tattoos

Quiet Time and Sharing

  • Archie Comics
  • Autograph Book
  • Journal
  • Cards or Small Games
  • Word Searches, Crosswords or Sudoku Puzzles
  • Stickers
  • Sketch Book
  • Worry Dolls
  • Bracelet Making Materials
  • Nail Polish
  • New Book

Personal Items

  • Lip Smackers
  • Kleenex
  • Patterned Band Aids
  • New Toothbrush (Because the first one is likely gone.)
  • Package of Bright Hair Elastics
  • New Flip-Flops
  • Silly Socks


  • I am a huge fan of the prank. You can never go wrong with a fart machine, whoopee cushion, squirt ring or my personal favorite, “Nail Through the Finger.”




RELATED Preventing Homesickness in Summer Campers