5 Ideas for Great Camp Care Packages
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If you went to sleepaway camp, you probably remember the delicious anticipation at mail time when you’d find out if you or one of your bunkmates managed to snag a care package. Guess what? Times have changed. And brown boxes overflowing with squirt cheese, M&Ms, and chips are nothing more than nostalgia, my friend.
These days, most camps have someone stationed in the mail room, scouring packages in search of junk food. You can send it, but more likely than not, your kid won’t get it. Still, that doesn’t mean that all the fun of the care package is gone. It just takes a little more ingenuity to fill a box with more than empty calories and sugar.
Here are 5 cool ideas for stuffing a package with kid-friendly surprises:
- The Boredom Buster. Sure, camp has tons of activities planned for your kid. But there’s still plenty of downtime. Keep boredom at bay with a package full of puzzles, Mad Libs, brainteasers, mazes, or other pencil-pushing entertainments.
- The Entertainer. Got a kid who likes to be the center of attention? Fill your box with a deck of cards (and some handwritten directions on how to play stalwarts like War, Crazy 8’s, Pig, Slapjack, and other favorites from your own childhood). Toss in a cool book like Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic (Running Press, 2003) and a few packaged magic tricks to get your kid started, and you’re in business.
- The Bookworm. At home, it may be near impossible to pry your child from the TV, but camp offers a great excuse to get him hooked on books. Don’t worry too much about finding something overly educational—the important thing is getting your child excited to read. The newest Artemis Fowl book is about to hit bookstores in July 15th, but you can put in a pre-order right now. Want something with a little Hollywood buzz? The City of Ember will hit theaters in October, and Kit Kittredge American Girl comes to movie screens this July, but your kid can get a jump on it by cracking the book-versions. For Harry Potter fans, we suggest The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, or anything by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart, The Thief Lord…) Adventurous souls might like The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden, or for an oldie but goodie, tuck in a copy of Norton Juster’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth.
- Primp and Pamper. With all that dirt, bug repellent, and nature, it’s possible your kid could use a little box of glamour. Pack up some cool flip flops, a new shower caddy, and some potions and lotions that smell nice for a mid-summer pick-me-up. Or get the whole bunk involved with a Spa in a Box: send enough nail polish, cotton balls, polish remover, and files for a pedicure party. Your kid’s friends will have the coolest toes in town.
- The Grab Bag. Sometimes the most fun part of opening a package is the incredible randomness of what’s inside. Stuff your box with an assortment of useful, fun, and downright kooky trinkets. Temporary tattoos, activity books that use invisible ink, a magic 8 ball, some stationary for sending letters home, and a lapdesk to make writing from his bunk easier. Throw in a pillowcase in a bright color and a permanent marker for your child’s bunkmates to autograph. Include a few magazines (click here for a recent Education.com roundup of our favorites), a Frisbee or set of water guns, or some art supplies like string for friendship bracelets, colored paper and a paper airplane book, origami, or a craft kit like Klutz’s Learn to Knit Knitting Kit. And don't forget to tuck in an address book, so your child can record the contact info for all her new friends once summer comes to a close...
For parents who don’t know what to pack, or those just too busy to pack it up themselves, here are four reliable companies that put the “care” in care package:
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