Parents

How to make creative camp care packages

The American Camp Association projects that over 6.5 million kids will be attending sleep-away camps in the next few weeks. Part of that experience is receiving camp care packages in the mail. But parents and grandparents take note: the rules have changed on what you can and cannot send. TODAY Contributor Elizabeth Mayhew lists some creative ideas to spoil your camper:

Now that school has let out, parents across America are frantically shopping for bug spray, labeling t-shirts, loading flashlights with batteries, and packing trunks all in the name of summer sleep-away camp.

Within the next few weeks the American Camp Association projects that over 6.5 million kids will be attending sleep-away camps from California to the New York Islands. And while s'mores, camp fires, and Taps are all part of the experience, so is the anticipation of receiving a care package from home.

But parents, grandparents, and friends take note: times have changed and so have the rules of what you can and cannot send. Most camps prohibit the sending of food and candy (this was always discouraged for fear that it would attract unwanted critters, but now with the rise of food allergies the dangers of peanut brittle are far greater). It is best to check with your son's or daughter's camp before you go to the effort of mailing off a package — every camp has it's own, individual policy. Some camps have a no package policy. They only allow letter-size or business envelopes. Others allow padded envelopes and some still let boxes boxes through.

So whether your child's camp allows envelopes or boxes, here are some kid-tested and mother-approved ideas, most of which are under $10:

Letter Plus:

Mikro ManFold the flat aluminum sheet according to the directions to end up with a three dimensional figure. Choose from 6 different themes, $16 each at The Conran Shop: (866) 755-9079.

Celebrate the 4th: Most camps have a special celebration on July 4th and you can help add to the fun!

Inflatable Beach BallAn inflatable beach ball with give campers hours of fun in the cabin or by the lake, $4 at E.A.T. Gifts: (212) 861-2544.

Toothbrush
Sparkly patriotic toothbrushes will hopefully encourage regular brushing while out of your watchful eye, $8.50 at E.A.T. Gifts: (212) 861-2544.

Headband
Girls will love sporting a stretchy patriotic headband, $14 from

Old-fashioned fun:

Prank Kit
Help your child get revenge on his bunkmate for short-sheeting his bed with these 6 classic pranks (kit includes a whoopie cushion, snapping gum, disappearing ink, nail through finger, fake dog poop, and a squirting ring), $10 at

Shadow Picture Book
All you need is a white sheet or wall, a flashlight, and your hands to create the shadow images pictured in this book, $4.95 from

Beyond Jacks:

Fiki Football, Baseball, and BasketballRainy days at camp call for indoor fun that is battery and computer free. Fiki Football meets the requirements. The game is reminiscent of the table-top game played with a small triangular folded piece of paper that two opponents slide back and forth across a tabletop in an attempt to score a touchdown. Also available: Fiki Basketball, Fiki Baseball, $7.95 from

Kid's and Teen Table TopicsStimulate conversation in the cabin or by the campfire with provocative questions like "What would be a really good flavor of toothpaste?" Kid, $9 and teenager versions, $25 from

One Stop Shopping:

Sealed with a Kiss was started in the early 80's as a destination for parents to go for the ultimate camp care package. Just call them up, tell them your child's age, sex and interests and let them put something together for you, choose $30 (6-7 items), $40 (9-10 items), or $50 (12-13 items) from

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