You’ve said goodbye to your camper and now you want to send some love from home – but you don’t know where to start! How about a care package?
First things first: Before you send a care package to your campers, please make sure that your camp allows care packages at all. Many of them, including some Reform Jewish summer camps, do not.
As long as you know you're good to go, here are 10 tips for sending care packages to camp.
1. Include a return address.
Most camps operate under the same rule: Unmarked packages don’t come onto camp, period. If there isn’t a return address on the package, it will be sent back to the post office. You definitely want your camper to receive it, so please don’t forget this important detail!
2. Follow the rules.
Your camp likely has specific rules regarding care packages, and these rules are in place for a reason – primarily the health and safety of all campers. The mail room will confiscate packages that don’t meet the rules. To ensure that your package reaches your camper, consult the camp manual or call the staff office to double check.
3. You don’t need much.
You can send one item in your package. A book, magazine, comic book, or stuffed animal would be sure to bring a smile to your camper’s face.
4. You don’t need to spend much, either.
A great place to fill camp care packages is at your local dollar store. Keep in mind that whatever you’re sending is headed to camp, and it will most likely come home very dirty – or not at all! Save anything fancy or expensive for when the kids come home.
5. Send love to the whole cabin.
Campers (and counselors) love getting packages that can include the whole cabin. Some popular items are glow sticks, games like Uno, bubbles, bouncy balls, stickers, stick-on mustaches, temporary tattoos, friendship bracelets, lanyard string, and Mad Libs.
6. Consider quiet activities.
Every day at URJ Youth camps, campers have menucha (rest time). Not all campers like to sleep during this time, especially younger campers, so fill your care package with quiet time activities to keep them occupied. Try puzzle books, journals, origami paper, a book of solitary card games plus a deck of cards, and, of course, stationery to write letters home.
7. Campers love silly stuff.
Camp is a wonderful and safe place to have fun and show personality. Funny glasses, hats, bright nail polish, hair accessories, whoopee cushions, noise putty, or any type of wacky clothing – all of these have a place at camp.
8. Small is best.
Space is very limited at camp, both in the office (where the mail is delivered, sorted, and distributed) and in the cabins. Good things come in small packages, and it saves on shipping, too!
9. Useful items are, well, useful.
While it’s fun to be silly, there’s always room for useful items. Here’s a list of some common items often requested in letters home or found in packages sent to camp: new toothbrush; goggles; extra batteries; extra stamps; battery-powered handheld fan; disposable cameras; and a new water bottle. Toward the end of the session, send an extra pillowcase, notebook, and fun markers for autographs on closing day.
10. It’s not necessary!
Packages are a fun but not mandatory part of the camp experience. Remember, every time your child receives mail from home – packages, letters, printed emails (if your camp partakes in Bunk1 or a similar service) – he or she will feel special! Write often to show them how proud you are that they are spending the summer away at camp, and remind them to keep those letters so they can look back on them when they are older.
Can't put a care package together just yet? Here's a quick and easy guide to sending great letters to your camper.
To find the right Jewish summer camp for your child, browse the Reform Movement’s summer camps.