I love a good care package as much as I love a sweet piece of snail mail. It means something to know that a close friend or Clark family member took time to pick out items, carefully assemble them, and personally send them, especially when sending a text or buying something to ship right to someone’s doorstep is so much easier. Sometimes these boxes are a cure for homesickness, or just a way to send something specific — like the time my mom shipped me a USPS medium flat rate box shoved to the brim with 12 mangoes to help me cope through my first-ever East Coast winter.
Of course, no summer camp experience is complete without a care package. And Polygon Summer Camp inspired me and the other Nicole C. on staff, Nicole Carpenter, to do exactly that. Both of us love all things arts and stationery, and here’s a dorky little fun fact: We were pen pals before we both landed at Polygon. Both of us love to sketch and paint (incidentally, we both use Holbein Acrylic Gouache, as well as watercolor) as much as we love to play games. Why not merge our hobbies together and send each other a fun little pick-me-up?
Neither of us had the chance to go to summer camp as kids, so we channeled all of our energy into making sure these care packages delivered on what we had always imagined. What would we want when far away from home? We agreed that this definitely would include some good snacks for sharing around the campfire, plus a little plush to sit on a cabin bed and some craft items for passing the time. With those ideas to jump off of, each of us got to work. Here’s what we came up with.
Let’s start with the reveal
Nicole Clark: I had tons of fun opening up this package in the week leading up to not-E3 — it was the ultimate pick-me-up. I was greeted with a “Welcome to Polygon Summer Camp” postcard which was very, very cute, and looked so much like one of those welcome postcards you can buy during road trips. I have no idea how she managed to get it to look so accurate, but I’m incredibly impressed.
I had just finished my last composition-sized notebook and had been searching for one, so the one here plus the little spiral-bound notepad are absolute perfection. I’m going to cover these bad boys in stickers. I also love the bird watching book — a hobby I’d been wanting to try for a while, and perfect to take on a camping trip. I can also take some cute pics of birds and also adorable wildlife with this disposable camera; because it’s “expired” everything will have a soft, faded look.
Now, moving onto my favorite little guy. LOOK HOW CUTE HE IS.
The snacks were immaculate. I had never had Flamin’ Hot Funyuns before (I didn’t even know they existed!), but now I cannot imagine my life without them. Funyuns are one of my favorite snacks, and I love spicy and tangy foods. I immediately ate half of the bag, using chopsticks to prevent dust from getting on my fingers. I’m not opposed to it, but I did once accidentally rub my eyes after chopping a pepper, and let’s just say I’ll never forget it. The Pikmin gummies were also incredibly good, and I did eat a package while on my daily walk playing Pikmin Bloom.
Last but definitely not least, she made me a friendship bracelet by hand. I’m wearing it as I type this!!!
Nicole Carpenter: Nicole knows how to put together a care package. Somehow, this was perfectly timed to arrive right before the not-E3 busy period, and it included a number of things that have since been essential to my life. For one, the incredible painting of A Short Hike, one of my favorite games ever, is now hanging right above my desk alongside cute art — some also made by friends! My new best friend, Squirtle, is lovingly dangling above my selection of notebooks and pens. (My pen selection has new additions now, too — beautiful soft Mildliner highlighters and Tombow markers that match Squirtle himself!)
Speaking of notebooks, Nicole included a Kirby notebook and other delightful Kirby things — like a cup and saucer! It feels like the perfect set to take camping, alongside the Animal Crossing playing cards she sent along. I truly can’t get over how cute the packaging is — it’s like I’m flush with Bells!
To steal a phrase Nicole uses above, the snacks were immaculate. She hit all the perfect flavor notes: sweet, sour, and spicy. I immediately opened the Sour Patch Kids and ate them all.
Putting together the care packages
Nicole Clark: And now I share how the sausage was made. (Please excuse the horrible phrase; I promise this is cute.) I wanted to try my hand at painting the cover from A Short Hike, a camping-inspired game that just felt right. Do I paint? Not really! Did I have a ton of fun? Yes! At Summer Camp, we might not be good at art, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try.
Later, I stopped by a little gift shop in Japantown in Los Angeles in order to get a handful of items, like the Kirby’s Burger-themed plate and cup — which I thought would be fun and portable for eating a campfire snack — as well as the little Squirtle plushie. I also grabbed some snacks like Pocky and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (incredible that we both went that direction).
I stopped by an art supply shop to get some Zebra Mildliner pens (in Squirtle colors, obviously). They’re my favorite journaling pens because one side has a fine tip and the other has a highlighter tip, so you can use them in multiple ways. Same goes for the Tombow dual brush pens, which have a fine tip on one end and a brush tip on the other. I also know Nicole has a lot of fountain pens and other art supplies, so I tried to get a few that would complement what she already has.
The little Bell bag of Animal Crossing: New Horizons playing cards was from an Etsy shop that also makes sets for Zelda and Genshin Impact fans. I have so many memories of bringing a deck of cards to the beach with friends, or on a family vacation — and putting Animal Crossing villagers on them just felt right.
Nicole Carpenter: Honestly, putting together a Polygon Summer Camp care package for Nicole was one of my favorite Polygon projects. Who doesn’t want to send cute things to their friends?
The first thing I did was start designing the postcard. Arts and crafts had to be a part of this, so I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to plan out the postcard. Eventually I landed on a layout and just went for it. The cute Charmander at the fire was a last-minute addition, and I love him. The materials I used were watercolor, acrylic gouache, and Posca pens, all on watercolor paper.
The next order of business was finding cute and good things to fill out the care package with. I know that Nicole and I share a deep love of stationery, so I knew there had to be a variety of notebooks and stickers; the stickers are Halo- and Animal Crossing-themed.
Of course, there’s her own special friend Pikachu dressed as Snorlax, which I ordered from the Pokémon Center. The Pikmin gummies and little star candies came from a Japanese Etsy seller and took a shockingly short amount of time to get to me. And then to Nicole. Funny thing with the Funyuns, though... I ordered these online because there appears to be a Flamin’ Hot shortage in my area. I purchased five bags, thinking these were snack sized. They were not snack sized, and I’ve also been living off Flamin’ Hot Funyuns.
One of my favorite parts was making us matching friendship bracelets, though. A classic summer camp activity! We share a same favorite color, so picking the beads was easy. Do you know what’s not easy? Stringing these tiny beads onto a stretchy band. It’s been weeks, and I still find beads on the floor.
Lastly, I included a bird watching book because I am of the mind that bird watching is like a game. Gotta catch ’em all... with your eyes!
I bought Nicole a few very cute pens and a correction tape dispenser, but they arrived so late that they’ll come in a separate package. I will not disclose more details so it’s a surprise — summer camp delayed!