Love From Home—What to Send (and NOT Send) to Camp

The days of carb-and-sugar-loaded care packages are long over.

And for those moms looking to buck the system by including a stealth Snickers bar or two, don’t bother.

“Camp Echo and most other camps will not allow campers to receive food in care packages (too many critters find the food and help themselves),” says Katie Trippi, alumni and development director for Evanston’s McGaw YMCA Camp Echo, which is located in Fremont, Michigan.

“At Echo, all care packages are opened by campers in front of staff who confiscate any food items. These items are then donated to a local food pantry.”

So how can you send your favorite camper a little love from home? Here are some suggestions for non-edible care package goodies.

According to Trippi, Camp Echo encourages parents to send items that can be worked into camp activities, for example crazy costumes and dress-up accessories for a Wacky Wednesday they host at the camp.

She adds that it helps to send group activities for the whole cabin to enjoy, such as do-it-yourself spa treatments for girls, and card games and magic tricks for boys.

Eileen Zampa, an Evanston mom with three boys, two of whom are veteran overnight campers, says she made sure to include the “messiest stuff” possible in her care packages, in other words, things that boys love that she didn’t want them doing at home.

“Silly String was the biggest hit with my boys followed by Silly Putty and comic books,” Zampa says. “And, some sort of foam in a can that came in wild colors.”

Ideas for Girls

  • Do-it-yourself spa items
  • Dress-up accessories
  • Books
  • Postcards

Ideas for Boys

  • Comic Books
  • Silly Putty
  • Silly String
  • Magic Tricks
  • Cards
  • Postcards