Summer is in full swing by this point in July which, means that for many of us who are parents of elementary school children, we are getting ready to send them off to participate in that rite of passage that is sleepover camp.
My three left nearly two weeks ago to attend fabulous camps in Algonquin Park. I miss them terribly but I know that they are having a fabulous time and that our whole family is better for the experience. We all appreciate each other so much more with the benefit of a little time apart, having our own adventures, learning new things and meeting new people. So what's a slightly despondent parent with a little extra time on her hands like myself to do -- send a care package of course!
Care packages are little packages of goodies and gifts that parents, friends or family put together and mail off to their little campers as reminders of home and to let them know we're thinking of them. However as many camps will tell you, parents often do not understand what is appropriate to send and many care packages end up being full of items that aren't allowed meaning the campers never get to enjoy them.
To avoid that unfortunate situation, I've put together a list of my top five favourite things to include in a courteous care package that your camper (and their camp) will love:
1. Books & Writing Material
I like to include comic books, magazines and lighter reading material as well as some extra pens and pre-addressed post cards to me -- this way they can't say they didn't have a way to write home!
In camps without power, light is a valuable resource so I always send along a little flashlight or lantern and some extra batteries, as flashlights have a habit of getting lost.
Depending on your child a card game, Frisbee or some kind of beading craft can be a really fun surprise.
4. Clean Clothes
Kids get SO dirty at camp despite their counsellors best efforts to get them to wash up. I often send along an extra t-shirt and a pair of socks so at least they have something clean to wear on their way home from camp.
5. A Letter With Photos From You
This is the most important part, as much as you miss your kids, they miss you too! I always include a letter with what mom and dad (and our family dog) are up to and include a few photos so they don't forget who we are while they're away!
Now that your care package is ready make sure you've checked these last few logistical items off your list:
- Make sure to send your items in protective packaging -- I prefer lightweight bubble wrap envelopes; they cost less to ship and are a little more eco-friendly as they use less packaging than a big box.
- Know your mailing times -- sometimes camps don't get regular mail that often if they are in a remote location so ensure you know how long it will take to get to camp.
- If you are sending a last minute care package, like I was this year, and you have to send your package express, make sure to check with your shipping company on the timing to ensure they can in fact ship to the address or the PO Box.
To be courteous to your camp -- absolutely respect any care package restrictions they have put in place but things never to send include:
- Food: it attracts animals and the last thing healthy campers need is a stash of candy bars.
- Weapons: skip the pocket knives and slingshots -- though it might seem like a good idea in the woods, campers have no need to defend themselves at camp.
- Technology: no iPads or video games please, camp is a place to disconnect, meet new friends and head back to nature.
I hope your camper enjoys your care package just as much as you enjoy putting it together. And don't worry they'll be home soon -- at least that's what I keep telling myself.
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