In the throes of thesis-writing, I was reminded of how much a creative and well-timed care package can lift one's spirits when a good friend from Austin sent me tea, chocolate, unicorn tattoos and a Gumby toy along with humorous instructions as to when and how to use each item. This seemingly hodge-podge collection of simple things worked wonders in terms of cheering me up during the more tedious days of citation-checking.
In a broad attempt to pay it forward, I now make a plea to the general populace: Take time this summer to send a care package. Your target can certainly be any friend or loved one, but if you're stumped for an appropriate recipient, might I suggest the youngster braving sleepaway camp?
Although many kids relish those weeks away from overbearing parental units, just as many (I know; I was one of them) feel at least some anxiety being in a new environment that involves communal bathrooms, cafeteria food and fellow campers with questionable hygiene. For tips on how to assemble the perfect care package, please continue:
What to Include
- Compact puzzles and games for solo use and ones that involve other players (to promote friend-making).
- Simple reminders of home such as family photographs, animals, favorite mugs or dishes.
- Nonperishable food items (but always check on camp rules and regulations as many prohibit outside edibles) such as gum, mints, jelly candies and dried fruit.
When to Send
- Early in your camper's stay, when s/he is likely to experience "culture shock" most intensely, or
- In the middle/hump period, when s/he may feel like she hasn't been home in a long time and won't be any time soon.
How to Ship
- Use a tightly packed box and wrap each item separately. Plastic bags are especially helpful for segregating different food items or personal care products.
- Address the package with a large print label. Make sure the camper's full name is clear and readable.
- Mail in a timely fashion, especially if comestibles are involved. Overnight FedEx is probably not necessary, but sending by land tortoise suggests you care more about saving a buck than consoling your camper sooner rather than later.
Finally, for the love of God, don't get miffed if your camper doesn't send you a thank-you note or e-mail tout de suite. She's at camp, remember? Take it as a good sign she's spending time outdoors and not holed up in a computer lab.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.