By Campcierge™ Kimberly Paris
I can still remember the care packages I received when I was a child at a Maine Camp Experience (MCE) camp 30 years ago. Boxes came filled with stuffed animals, water balloons, gifts for my fellow bunkmates and my favorite, Candy Dots. We were able to pick up the packages from the post office and then open them in the bunks with our friends. Wow was that a different place and time.
Things have certainly changed. My daughters are now campers at that same MCE camp I attended and there are rules when it comes to packages. No boxes. No food. No bunk gifts. Does that mean no fun? Of course not!
Why are there now so many rules today?
- No Food: Camps are very focused on maintaining a healthy diet for their campers. They are also very sensitive to the fact that many campers have allergies. For this reason alone, many camps have a restriction on any outside food being sent to campers. Also, not to be forgotten, are all of the woodland creatures that are attracted to unwrapped food.
- No Boxes: Amazon is a great source for anyone who needs to order something and have it delivered. It makes the process easy for the sender. Unfortunately, at the same time it has resulted in an overabundance of packages that have taken over small sized camp offices. The sorting and screening of all of these packages takes extra time and manpower away from time that could be spent with the campers. It also creates A LOT of extra waste. For this reason, many camps have now limited packages to a 9×12 or smaller envelope or pouch.
- No Bunk Gifts: Camp is about the experience. Not about the things we have. Just imagine . . . Sally’s mom sent the entire bunk tattoos. Julie’s mom then heard and sent everyone in the bunk their own lip gloss. Taylor’s parents heard and then felt obligated to send a gift AND up the ante by sending every camper in the bunk face paint. Camp is about campers bonding together, not about trying to one-up each other. For this reason, many camps restrict the sending of bunk packages.
So does this all amount to No Fun? No way! There are still many ways to send a “fun” care package to camp? Use these tips and your package is destined to be a hit! Just remember to double-check your specific camp’s policies before sending any packages.
- Use soft envelopes to mail your packages. Boxes take up a lot of room and generate a lot of garbage. It’s better to send multiple smaller packages than one large package.
- Keep gifts small. Campers have limited space for items in their bunks.
- Magazines, puzzle books and comics are always a hit, especially the magazines filled with quizzes!
- Campers can never have enough socks! Look for ones with fun prints or Maine designs on them!
- Younger campers love stickers, Mad Libs and Invisible Ink books. They come with different themes and age ranges and fit easily in an envelope!
- Tweens and teens love to receive face masks, nail art and lip balms!
- Putty is always a hit!
- Face Paint, bandanas and fun mustaches are a great surprise for special events or just goofing around in the bunk!
- Games: Uno, Jacks, Mini Connect 4. All of these come in travel sizes which are easy to ship and then store in the bunks.
- Stationery and writing materials – Stationery, journals. Florescent pens, even post it notes can be the gift that gives back!
- Jewelry – Earrings, bracelets, necklaces. Any little inexpensive trinket is always appreciated.
- Friendship bracelet string is a must. It is rare to find a camper without a bracelet “in progress” hanging from their water bottle.
- It’s okay to be silly and goofy with your gifts. Make your letter the star and let the gift play the supporting role.
- Don’t be “that parent” that thinks they can outsmart the camp office manager. We have all heard the story about the can of tennis balls sent to a camper that was actually full of hidden candy or the stuffed animal that was hollowed out and filled with M&Ms or Jolly Ranchers – we’ve even had parents try to smuggle Starbursts in a sunscreen bottle. The probability is that the package will probably be found and then confiscated during inspection leaving in an even more disappointed camper. And although it seems like a harmless treat, camp rules are in place for a reason, and helping kids undermine those can make life even more difficult on counselors or administrators.
Ultimately remember, it’s not about the gift! It’s about the smile that comes from your camper feeling special that they were thought of!
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.