Many kids are away at camp, and parents are looking for creative ways to stay in touch. I just published my national wire column on “Easy Ways to Get Lots of Details from Your Camper” which you’ll see in a minute, but I wanted to add a bonus for MomTini Lounge readers regarding care packages.

Many camps restrict food, which I think is a great idea for so many reasons. First, I’m a big fan of a rodent-free environment! Also, camp is full of treats; many camps have canteens where the kids can buy junk; and food doesn’t typically keep well, especially in humid environments. (How many cabins have central air?!). Here are some creative ideas for non-edible treats you can send your camper:

Disposable cameras they can develop at home (or waterproof variety!)
Paper games – like Soduku, Word Finds, Crossword puzzles (Create your own puzzles for free online)
— Glow Sticks
Dollar Store treats – too many to list, but lots of fun, easy toys
Small easy games – Jacks, Cards, Dice
Clippings from the newspaper or comics

Now, enjoy some tips on how to create a camp questionnaire to get LOADS of details easily from your camper!

Many parents I talk to have hysterical stories about letters (or lack thereof) from campers. “Send money.” “I broke my leg – just kidding, but now that I scared you, send lots of candy!” “Camp is cool.”

Moms (and Dads!) want to know every last detail, and we’re used to communicating in writing. For today’s high-tech/instant gratification kids, though, writing a long, detailed letter may feel more like a homework assignment. Plus, they’re so hot and tired after a long day, so the last thing they want to do is sit and write.

While I think it’s excellent for kids to be away from technology for any period of time, let’s be honest. Many kids are used to the text messaging immediacy of their worlds, but hand written letters, while they may seem prehistoric, are a gem we should not only treasure but promote as much as we can!

I tried to find a happy medium between prose and “TTYL” (a.k.a., “talk to you later”). So, here’s a Business of Motherhood tip to the rescue: Create a questionnaire that your child can write and easily return to you. Here’s the strategy:

1. Write quick questions that are of interest to you that are either multiple choice or easy to answer
2. Send TWO copies of the questionnaire – that way, your camper can fill in and return one to you, but can keep one at camp for their “letter stash.”
3. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can easily return it to you without even so much as applying a stamp.

Now, there’s no excuse, right?

Here are some sample questions you can include.

1 – What’s your favorite part of camp so far?

2 – What’s a typical day like? (You can write out the hours of the day & have them fill in what they do).

3 – What are your favorite foods so far?

4 – What new activities have you tried?

5 – What new foods have you tried?

6 – Do you hang out with the same kids each day or different?

7 – Who are the best NEW friends you’ve made?

8 – What has surprised you most about camp?

9 – Is there anything else you need us to send?

10 – Do you get any time to read or listen to music or mostly chill & write letters?

Note: I like to send the counselors a thank you note toward the end of camp and include our packing list in the hopes that much (or some!) makes it home!

Happy camping!

cute mailbox - flickr