Care packages for kids at camp

May 17, 2011 at 12:31 p.m. ET

Camps across the country are filled with campers eagerly awaiting camp care packages, but you're left wondering what to send to your kids at summer camp. The traditional cookies and handmade cards come to mind, but are you sure that it is really what kids want? From compact board games to journals for writing, discover tips for filling your care packages for kids at camp.


"Sending your child to camp already shows how much you care," shares Dr. Christopher Thurber, psychologist and author of The Summer Camp Handbook "But care packages make mail call at camp its own little holiday." So, before you seal your camp care packages and mark "handle with care," make sure you know the rules on what you can and can't send to your little camper away at modern summer camps.

1Send Sweet Treats

Whether it's the fear of attracting unwanted critters or the rising food allergies in kids today, many camps prohibit food in camp care packages, including homemade cookies. But when camps allow food items, be sure they aren't perishable without proper storage.

2Pack in Entertainment

"I recommend non-food items that can be shared, such as reading material, compact board games and puzzles," says Dr. Thurber. You can also send toys to kids at summer camp that are meant to be shared -- such as inflatable beach balls, Frisbees, bean bags and hackey sack bags -- making your kiddo the center of attention with friends at camp.

>> Ensure your kiddo is ready for an adventure when you review this guide to preparing your child for summer camp

3Include clean fun

A toothbrush that plays music, a new headband and hair clips or silly socks and underwear can be just the pick-me-up your camper needs while away at summer camp. You can also surprise your child with something camps normally don't see, like bath soap body paint from Avon.

4Add in fashion

A new set of pajamas, temporary tattoos or even Silly Bandz for sharing can be a special treat for kids at summer camp. Or you can send a white t-shirt and a fabric marker for a keepsake project your child can have friends sign to remember the fun time at camp.

5A piece of home

Sending a little bit of sentiment might make homesick kids feel a little closer to home. Include a small stuffed animal, a journal with a special message from mom and dad inside the cover or photos of the family to help when your youngsters are missing you. Just consider how emotional your youngster might be. You don't want to bring them to tears with thoughts of home.

>> Find out how to afford to send your kids to camp

Instead of sending one big camp care package, know that with kids at summer camp, four small packages packs a bigger punch than one large one. Just be sure you check with your camp's size restrictions before packing. Whether you pick a theme for your care packages or choose a variety of items each time, it's guaranteed that you will be bringing a little bit of sunshine to your child come mail call.

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