best care packages for sleep away camp

Care Packages To Impress Your Kids at Sleepaway Camp

What Kids Want in Sleep Away Camp Care Packages

When Music Lovers went away to sleep away camp last summer, it was just for 5 days. She got off a long wait list as well, so it was sudden and we all had to scramble to get her ready. Hence, there was not need for that sleep away camp requisite Mommy-Loves-You care package. Whew! I got off easy.

This summer, I have no such luck. Music Lovers will be at a Y camp for a month and PickyKidPix at another Y camp for 2 weeks. I think I will be judged on the quality of my care packages by my kids and likely found wanting. I’m not really good at things like that and didn’t I just go through something similar 6 months ago for Christmas?!

I thought I’d turn to Maine Camp Experience Camp Directors for some help. I’m sure they’ve seen the gamut from cookies intact and delicious to Very Sad Care Package. I’m going to try to surprise my kids, in a good way! Here’s what they recommend:
When planning care packages, first be clear on the camp package policies.

• NO food is permitted; flat mail is the predominant and preferred method; most camps do not allow care package boxes, or permit a very limited number per summer
• If camps do allow them, or even for those sending flat mail, here are some suggestions and tips:

o Make it personal – what makes your child smile; books or magazines they enjoy reading at home; for kids obsessed with sports stats, send them good old fashioned newspaper print-outs of team scores

o Make it sharable – a bunk activity is great; camp is about collaboration, friendship and communication

Friendship bracelet raw materials

o Make it interactive – send postcards or toy bags or pillow cases with watercolors or fabric markers they can decorate with bunkmates; small, uncomplicated games with few, contained pieces, etc. Example: UNO is good; Monopoly would be tough.

o Make them laugh – kids love Mad Libs, comics, joke books

o Share “oldies but goodies” from parents’ camp days – jacks, pick-up sticks, good old fashioned cards

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Great story from Camp Fernwood:
“One of my most clever families writes a continuing novel to his daughter every summer. It begins the first day of camp and ends the last. All of the characters are thought up by the child. Over the years, her whole bunk can’t wait for the next chapter. Her family then binds the chapters together to make a keepsake book.

Additional Tips:
• You want kids to be surprised and engaged, not become sad with what is sent (i.e., so don’t send things that make them homesick)
• Ask them before camp starts the types of things they would like in a care package
• Inquire of the camp about popular items
• Label everything
• Don’t make this competitive with what others might send/receive
• Consider sending needed clothes – kids always run out of underwear and socks and new ones are always appreciated
• Girls love small accessories
• As color war or Olympics days approach, send items they can use for their team (i.e., colored shirts, hats, socks that will work with the team theme)

Maine is an easy drive or a quick flight from most places in the Northeast. After that first trip to Maine, families find themselves coming back for years to come, even when camp ends. Maine: it’s easy to get to, and hard to leave.<

Maine Camp Experience represents a community of premier Maine Camps that are dedicated to providing children with the highest quality summer camp experiences in the country. Keith Klein, owner of Camp Laurel, and Fritz Seving, owner of Camp Fernwood, are two of the founding board members. Our website,, is one-stop shopping – complete with a “personal guide” to assist you – where parents can learn about camps, and find everything they need to plan a fun and memorable visit to Maine with their children.

image from Jewelry New Age

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best care packages for sleep away camp

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. vanita

    these are really wonderful ideas! i can imagine one of my girls showing off these kind of packages to friends. 😀
    vanita recently posted…Too Hot For Weight Loss? Retrofit has your backMy Profile

    • Hi Vanita,
      Thanks so much! I can’t take credit though. Maine Camp Experience camp directors have seen it all and they were kind enough to share their great ideas. Thanks guys!

  2. Great recommendations, and most timely! Last year I sent my daughters Archie comics, and they were very appreciated. I also sent a some scented lip baum, just to make them feel a little fresher. I’ll try sending the Mad Libs this year. Thanks for the post!

  3. Ann

    Great ideas here! It reminded me of how my mother sent me a box freshman year of college – I loved getting it!
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  4. Love these ideas – a friend sends her kids off with a small photo album of the past year – family trips, highlights like a graduation or play – sweet idea. Maine Camp Experience is a great resource – we are taking a family vacation after camp pick up and used their site for great ideas.
    Capability recently posted…Keeping Cool, Day 103…A light lunchMy Profile

  5. Mixie

    I am 11 and i can tell u i would love to recive that kind of stuff at camp!

  6. Dee

    Great ideas! Dylan’s camp also does not allow care packages. Some of these could work, though! My first mail to him will include sunglasses because he broke 2 pairs just before camp. Talent, talent, I tell you!
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    • Hi Dee,
      Wow, I did not know that some camp’s don’t allow care packages. I kind of like that policy! No pressure on the parents! My girls seem to need ped socks. Theirs seem to get lost or they wear them repeatedly at camp and they get pretty gross. I think group activity crafts like friendship string would be good too. One of my daughter’s cabin mates got a huge box of that from her aunt and shared with everyone. That was all they talked about! Sorry to hear that Dylan breaks his sunglasses. Hope the new pair lasts. My kids lose theirs constantly!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Diversity Picture Books for Children GIVEAWAYMy Profile

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