Overnight Camp is Package Free

While Camp Newaygo has long held a very relaxed policy on packages, in recent years we have noticed packages causing a growing rate of negative side effects. The subject of packages, including who was receiving them and what was in them, began causing jealousy and unnecessary competition, as well as an influx of excessive and wasted “stuff” that hampered the camp experience. In efforts to celebrate the unique, simplistic lifestyle that camp allows and to promote unity within the camp family, Camp Newaygo is going package-free. We encourage you to use creative ways of interacting with your camper through non-package letters this summer, such as including word puzzles, a comic clipping from the newspaper, riddles and pictures.

Now, for the fine print: If you need to send an essential item that was forgotten at home, such as a retainer, glasses, or a spare inhaler, please send them labeled Attn: Jalisa Danhof and we will be sure the item gets to your camper. If a camper’s birthday occurs during camp, she may receive a food-and candy-free package for their birthday. Please mark “Birthday!” clearly on the package and send it Attn: Jalisa Danhof. In BOTH of these cases, please call camp ahead of time, so we will be expecting an approved camper package.

Any other packages sent to campers will be returned to the sender unopened. Please be sure to share this information with family and friends who may be planning to send packages! Packages are any items received in the mail other than regular flat envelope (Up to the size of a flat “6 X 9” envelope). This policy also applies to packages brought on check-in day. Campers with special food needs can still bring a small bag with snack items, which we will store in the kitchen.

We realize that changes at camp can cause stress, but we want to assure our camp families that this new policy was a result of a serious problems in our camp community:

  1. Most packages only contained one thing: junk food.pile-o-candyThe average camper package was comprised of sugar filled treats and snacks. As our camper population grew, the number of junk-food filled packages grew, and we do not have an adequate place to store them. The packages were attracting raccoon and other critters into cabins and tents, because campers and staff were overwhelmed with STUFF. At the camp store, we are able to limit camper’s candy consumption, by only allowing two treats a day. There was not limit on the candy they could receive in a package. We will continue to offer candy in our camp store (all for $1 or less) and will will move our snack time to early afternoon, so that campers who do not visit the store have a healthy afternoon snack option.

2. Some campers felt homesick and jealous after NOT receiving packages.

Girl being left out

Many of our camp families do not have the ability to send an expensive care package, or they choose not to. Some campers felt left out they were not getting care packages, and experienced homesickness.

3. The waste was overwhelming.

Portland-based GO Box, a service that provides and cleans reusable take-out boxes for local food trucks, hopes to keep some of the city's food waste from going in the dumpster.

Most of what was sent to camp ends up in the trash. Camp Newaygo is always trying to be a responsible environmental ambassador, and packages were not environmentally friendly.

Many camps these days are package-free, so going in this direction is in line with existing camp industry trends. And those camps universally agree that no packages is a positive move for camp, campers, and parents.

Your letter or postcard is more than enough to encourage, uplift, and connect your child to home while leaving her free to “get away from it all,” — including from toys, gifts, and just all the “stuff” from the modern, commercialized world.

We believe you will find this a painless policy change and may even be glad to have one more thing off of your “feeling obligated,” list. When your camper gets away from it all, it’s also a time for parents to have a lighter load!

As always if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me. I’d be happy to answer any of your concerns.