stuff to put in a care package for camp

Stuff to put in a care package for camp now that food is forbidden

The classic care package was all about the foods we call home.

A stash of Mom’s chocolate-chip cookies or Grandma’s pickled carrots could transport us from wherever we were—summer camp, a university dorm, a term abroad—right to the kitchen tables where we grew up.

Now that it’s my own son that goes away to camp for two weeks, I find myself at a bit of a loss when it comes to the care package for which he hinted heavily before leaving. Because of concerns about food allergies, and, I’m sure, keeping critters out of cabins, we’re not allowed to send homemade baked goods or any other food items. That’s a good policy, I think. My own son has a peanut allergy and I don’t want him inadvertently eating a cabinmate’s peanut-laced cookies from home.

Still, without favourite snacks, what goes inside a care package, especially if you want to avoid a lot of dollar-store junk that’s sure to hit a landfill before too long?

I feel like this would be easier if I had daughters instead of sons, though who knows. (Sometimes I’m guilty of romanticizing that mother-daughter stuff.) Still, I can’t help but think I would send a preteen daughter easy-to-ship non-food items like personal care products, hair accessories, a beaded bracelet, a pretty notebook, etc.

With our son, well, we’re hopeful he’ll crack open the toiletries we sent him with and perhaps brush his teeth more nights than not. As for notebooks for writing home, let’s just say that I optimistically sent him with a slightly crumpled self-addressed-stamped-enveloped rescued when unpacking his camp stuff two years ago.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with for this year’s care package:


The classic Mad, the awesomely brainy and quirky Mental Floss and basketball magazine Slam.


A tiny magnetic chess board and a word search pad, both $1.99 on sale at my local stationary shop.

A Toy

A little foam “indoor boomerang,” which was less than $3.


I figure he’ll be running out of clean ones about now.

If you’ve got kids in camp, do you send care packages? If so, what do you put in them? I’d love to steal your ideas for next year.

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Brandie Weikle

About Brandie Weikle

Brandie is a long-time parenting editor, writer and spokesperson. Most recently editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine, Brandie has also been the parenting and relationships editor for the Toronto Star, founding editor of two Toronto Star websites, and an editor for Today's Parent. Brandie is a single mother of two in Toronto and a frequent television and radio guest on parenting topics. A former digital director at House & Home Media, she also consults on digital audience engagement. Contact her here. View all posts by

'Stuff to put in a care package for camp now that food is forbidden' have 6 comments

  1. August 18, 2014 @ 6:21 pm Leslee

    Great selection. My packages over the years have included short joke books, cool notepads with attached pens and books they really wanted to read.


    • Brandie Weikle

      August 20, 2014 @ 10:47 am Brandie Weikle

      I’m filing those ideas away for next year. Thanks, Leslee!


  2. August 20, 2014 @ 2:04 am Linda Ruth

    For my teenager, working as a camp counsellor, it’s all about the nail polish, a knitted bookmark that she turned into a bracelet, and the Tim’s and Starbucks’ gift cards (for those days off).


  3. August 26, 2014 @ 12:56 pm Tricia

    I think reading material – of any kind (magazines, comics, books) – is right on track. But care packages are luxuries, and the chance to go to camp is a luxury in itself. A letter from home, with nothing more than a funny story enclosed, is the perfect care package.


    • Brandie Weikle

      August 26, 2014 @ 2:19 pm Brandie Weikle

      Very, very good point, Tricia. Thank you.


      • August 26, 2014 @ 6:21 pm Tricia

        And if my own boys ever go to camp, I might just tuck those letters from home inside clean pairs of socks. That’s genius.


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