This will be the sixth summer that my kids are attending sleepaway camp. They both love it and look forward to it each year, and let’s face it, so do I.
According to my kids, one of the most exciting things at camp is to get a package from home, so I try to send one every other week or so. The first year I used one of those companies that specializes in camp packages, but I wasn’t thrilled with the selection or the prices. So after that I just started using Amazon Prime. The stuff gets there fast (free two-day shipping for most things!), and I can mark the items as gifts so that there’s no tacky price list included. I can even type in a little note.
Here are some of my favorite kid-approved things to send. And don’t forget to pack labels, so that your kids can label all of the stuff you send! I’ve been a long-time customer of Mabel’s Labels. They’re really fantastic. I order a pack of Camp Labels for each of my kids every year.
All of the things below are items that I’ve bought for my kids at some point in their camp histories, with the exception of a few of the books (I’m probably buying those this summer), and the links that lead to a ton of choices.
These gel pens in assorted colors are my daughter’s favorite to write with.
Foldover Cards with Stickers are a really cute alternative to paper and envelopes.
Did you know that you can buy stamps on Amazon? Well, you can! If your kids actually write to you from camp and they run low on stamps, you can replenish their supply with a click.
Make sure to find out whether or not your kids can get food gifts – and don’t take the camp handbook’s word for it! The first year my kids went to camp, I believed everything the handbook says. Consequently, my kids were the ONLY ONES in their cabins who weren’t sent food! Ask other parents or call the camp. (And if you own a camp, update your handbook!!)
The key to sending camp snacks is to make sure they’re individual-sized packages. You don’t want your kid to get in trouble for leaving a giant bag of candy open on her bed. Amazon sells a ton of different kinds, definitely something for everyone.
My daughter’s cabin had a lot of fun with this Pop Rocks XTreme Sour Assortment. It comes in twelve individual packets, so it’s perfect for sharing.
I bought this Fujifilm instant camera for my daughter for her birthday last month, and she’ll be taking it to camp. It runs on batteries and is very easy to use, making it perfect for taking lots of pictures with friends and sharing them right away. This bundle is great because it comes with everything you need: the camera (available in a bunch of different colors), a case, batteries, and the instant film sheets. Or, you can buy the camera alone.
You can also just use the plain film sheets and decorate them with stickers that are specially cut to fit around the pictures.
This box of questions from Melissa & Doug is made especially for camp, and is great for getting the cabin to bond.
This glow stick party pack will be an instant hit.
This hair chalk is designed not to be messy.
Books are really popular in camp cabins. Before bedtime and on rainy days, my kids do a lot of reading. Kids like to trade the books, which is fantastic, so don’t expect to get them back!
Murder is Bad Manners, by Robin Stevens, grade 4 and up
The Marvels, by Brian Selznick, grade 4 and up
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, grade 5 and up
I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, grade 6 and up
Tonight The Streets Are Ours, by Leila Sales, grade 7 and up
Finnikin of the Rock (the Lumatere Chronicles), by Melina Marchetta, grade 8 and up
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, by Phillip Hoose, grade 9 and up
The Family Romanov, by Candace Fleming, grade 9 and up
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness, grade 9 and up
I Crawl Through It, by A.S.King, grade 9 and up
Paper Towns, by John Green, grade 9 and up
By the way, I got a lot of these recommendations from my friend Sandie, when she was a guest on my podcast, Parenting Bytes. She writes for Common Sense Media, a fantastic source for Young Adult book reviews.
This great camp journal is packed with places to put the addresses, pictures, and autographs of new friends, camp info, and more.