15 Best Ideas for Packing a Summer Camp Care Package

This post was sponsored by OREO as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Summer camp care package ideas 2019

Summer Camp Fun!

Do you have a child going to summer camp this summer? Send a surprise summer camp care package along with them! I know this list of 15 Best Ideas for Packing a Summer Camp Care Package will be so helpful to you.

Summer Camp Memories

I loved summer camp so much as a child and teenager. Camps were one of the highlights of my summer every year. Other than the camp games we had to play (I hate games), I enjoyed the swimming, making new friends, camp meals, and all group meetings and activities that were not games (ha!). 

Now that I’m a mom, my own daughter is just crazy for camp! She’s actually been going to a sleep away camp since she was 5 (a 3 day, 2 night program for little kids at the camp where I used to work). She is almost 8 now and she talks about camp very often. It is absolutely one of her favorite things about summer!

Summer camp care package ideas 2019

15 Best Ideas for Packing a Summer Camp Care Package

1. Notes

Write encouraging notes to your camper and put them in the summer camp care package as well as tucked into different places in their luggage. Also, check your camp policy on mail. They may have other options to get mail to your camper, such as “camp mail” time, a camp mail box, or mail might be distributed daily by the camp staff in another way.

2. Candy

Every camper loves to get some candy in their care package! I went to Walmart and picked up the new OREO Cookies and Crème Chocolate King Size Bar. We love this treat! Have you tried this yet? This delicious bar is made with OREO cookie pieces and Milka white chocolate and is a great option for your camper… and you deserve one too!

Summer camp care package ideas 2019

At the end of this post, I’ll share with you how you can enter to WIN a $50 or even $200 Walmart gift card. And be sure to click here to see where you can get OREO Cookies and Crème Chocolate King Size Bar.

3. Cash

There’s always that day that your camper realizes they over spent at the snack shack and need some more cash! A little extra is always a nice surprise.

4. A Camp Journal and Pens

Encourage your young camper to journal. They can write down their experiences and thoughts about camp and keep the journal to look back on in the future. Pictures and paper keepsakes can also be tucked into the pages. 

5. Stuffed Animal

A cute and cuddly little stuffed animal can be a spirit booster for a camper. They look so cute on their bunk and give them something soft to cuddle when resting. It’s also a fun camp memory item after camp.

Summer camp care package ideas 2019

6. Small Games

Cats Cradle, “cootie catchers,” a yo-yo, a bouncy ball, a deck of cards, a frisbee, and other small games and toys can be really fun for campers to pass the time in between camp activities.

7. Decorations

Think of fun decorations for your campers bunk and cabin. Battery operated Christmas lights, crepe paper streamers, and wall banners can make a room look to fun! Be sure to check out your camps policy on decorations and don’t send anything that could damage the walls, carpet, or bunks. 

8. Activity Books

Mad Libs, a sketchpad with pencils, a paint book and washable paints, crossword puzzles, soduku, and word finds can be a fun way to pass some time in between the action packed camp activities. 

9. Treats for the Cabin

Send some snacks and small trinket toys for the whole cabin! Everyone loves the camper who comes ready to give out some small treats. 

Summer camp care package ideas 2019

10. Treats for the Counselors

The cabin leaders work so hard keeping campers safe and happy, so why not treat them as well! You can make small bags filled with candy and a few items from this list, just for the counselors. 

11. A Memory Bag

Give your kid a plain drawstring backpack with markers and instructions for all of their camp friends and bunkmates to sign the backpack. What a fun keepsake!

12. Things to Help Explore Nature

Think binoculars, a flashlight, a book to record bugs and birds and other things your camper sees… all super fun things to add to your summer camp care package!

13. Glow Sticks

Glow sticks are always so fun to have at camp! 

14. Friendship Bracelets

These are a great idea for your camper who also likes bracelets. They can wear them during the week and then give them away to their best camp friends.

15. Nail Art Set

Is your camper great at doing nails? Equip them with the fun tools to do some nail art!

Enter to Win!

Alright, I told you above that you could have a chance to win a Walmart gift card. Well, here it is!

The details: prizes are six (6) $50 Walmart Gift Cards and one (1) $200 Walmart Gift Card (Grand Prize). Entries are accepted May 24th – June 16th, 2019. I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the 7 winning prizes.

OREO Cookies & Creme Chocolate Bar Sweepstakes

Camp Moms, Unite!

Alright camp moms (and dads!), tell me about your summer camp care package ideas! You can comment below, tag me in a post on Instagram @MomNeedsChocolate, or click here now to see this article pinned on Pinterest and add a picture of your summer camp care package there. Can’t wait to see what you all create!

— Update: 03-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Care Packages for Summer Camp: Over 60 Ideas! from the website triadmomsonmain.com for the keyword summer camp care package ideas 2019.

Updated by TMoM Team Member Katie Moosbrugger

I remember my first experience as a camp mom. Since I had never gone to summer camp as a kid, I spent weeks asking friends about what my daughter should pack, how she should pack, when to send care packages, what to send in a care package…among a million other questions. I shopped in secret to build her care package for weeks in advance and had everything ready to go. It was essential that I crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’ so her first camp outing would be memorable and perfect.

The morning after I dropped off my daughter, I hightailed it to the post office to mail a package. They assured me it would arrive in two days. Every day I waited to get an email from my daughter telling me how much she loved my care package. Emails arrived daily, but no mention of the care package. Sure enough, as soon as I went to pick her up, she was sitting on her bunk bed opening her care package for the first time. I learned it arrived the morning of check out! Despite the post office glitch, her experience turned out to be memorable and perfect anyway.

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Summer camp care package ideas 2019

So what did I learn? Consider dropping off your care package the same day you check-in your child! I also kept my list care package ideas for this year’s summer camp adventure, and I share them below. Maybe my list will make your preparations easier. Not every camp allows food in care package, so be sure to ask in advance.

I hope your child’s summer camp experience goes off without a glitch. And now to more than 60 care package ideas to help you do just that…

Love from Home

  • Self addressed stamped envelopes
  • Stationery/note cards
  • Notes from family members
  • Picture of family
  • Picture of family pet
  • A letter from your family pet

Little Extras

  • Band aids
  • Ear plugs for swimming
  • Extra sunscreen
  • Colored zinc
  • Chap sticks
  • Toiletry items
  • Insect repellent
  • Aloe Vera for sun burns
  • Bug bite relief

Unexpected Surprises

  • New Goggles
  • New Sunglasses
  • New Flip flops
  • New bathing suit
  • New water bottle

Sweet Treats

  • Candy – the stuff you normally don’t buy
  • Snacks (trail mix, pretzels, granola bars, etc)
  • Homemade baked goods

For the Long Nights

  • Flash light (don’t forget the batteries!)
  • Book light
  • Camp journal
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Sketch books
  • Pens and pencils
  • Battery operated fan (don’t forget the batteries)
  • Warm, fuzzy socks

Make Them Stand Out

  • Glow in the dark clothes (PJs, socks, shoelaces)
  • Glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces
  • Glow in the dark body paint

Building Memories

  • Disposable camera
  • Waterproof camera
  • Fabric markers and plain white t-shirt or pillowcase to sign
  • Autograph book
  • Address book
  • Stamped, addressed envelopes and stationary for them to write letters home

Cabin Mate Fun

  • Small token to give to a cabin mate
  • Deck of cards
  • Puzzles
  • Mad Libs (you can find these at Toys & Co!)
  • Glow Sticks
  • Water guns
  • Bubbles
  • Magic 8 Ball
  • Crazy glasses
  • Prank items (Five Below has a ton…)
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Wigs
  • Stick on mustaches
  • Fake teeth
  • Camp Bunk Box of Questions
  • Walkie talkies
  • Small travel-size games (like Spot It, Uno, Would You Rather)
  • Frisbee

Just for Girls

  • Nail polish
  • Ponytail holders
  • Hair chalk
  • Friendship bracelet kits
  • Patterned Duct Tape

A Couple of Other Ideas

~ Consider wrapping each item individually so it’s like a holiday occasion for your child to open the care package.
~ Don’t have time to coordinate a care package? Send a pre-made camp care package from Amazon , the Wrinkled Egg, or Camp Pacs. Brilliant idea!
~ If you have more ideas to add to this list, leave a comment below!

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— Update: 04-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Camp Care Package Ideas | Summer Camp Care Packages from the website paliadventures.com for the keyword summer camp care package ideas 2019.

A Care Package Says a Thousand Words

For many camps, letters, email and care packages are the main mode of communication for parents to connect with campers. Care packages can help parents feel more connected to their kids, and help kids know that their parents are thinking of them.

Before you send your summer camp care package, make sure you know the rules of the camp. For example, Pali Adventures does not allow food to be sent in summer camp care packages. You will also want to avoid electronics, valuables and other items that your child won’t be able to enjoy while at camp.

Read on for a list of summer camp care package ideas to send to your child.

With Care Packages, Keep It Light

Don’t pack anything that will make your child miss home. Sentimental photos, notes about how much you miss them, and nostalgic blankets or stuffed animals should all be avoided.

Instead, accompany your summer camp care package with a simple card or note that lets your child know how happy you are that they are having a blast at camp. Include pre-stamped envelopes, paper, and writing utensils so that your child can send a reply letter if they want. Check out our blog post for ideas on how to write the perfect camp letter to your child.

The More Personal, the Better

Be sure to include something to enrich your child’s experience. At Pali Adventures, kids participate in a wide variety of special activities like magic, movie makeup, and Wacky Science. You may want to send something that directly relates to what they’ve been doing at camp. If they’ve enjoyed their time in the  Magic specialty, send them a magic trick or a book on magic.   Not only will this fuel their interests at camp, this can also be a good conversation starter and something to share with other campers.

Make sure to respond to any letters home that you’ve received, and ask them about their time at camp: new friends, activities, or their favorite counselor.

Something to Share

Include something in your care package that your child can share with friends and cabin-mates. Playing cards, a travel size board game, Frisbee, stickers, coloring books and other crafts and activities are great ideas for getting your child out and interacting with other kids at camp. If your camp holds a water war or allows raids, as Pali Adventures does, sending back-up water balloons and cans of shaving cream will arm your camper for even more fun.

Even simple things that can be purchased at the dollar store like beads and string will allow your child to make bracelets or necklaces and will allow everyone in the cabin to return home with a fun keepsake. Mad Libs is another great idea for getting your child involved with other kids at camp.

Books or coming books are good if you know your child needs occasional downtime, but expect that they might get passed around the cabin, too. Avoid sending anything that is of special value, as chances are it will make the rounds and come home (or not make it home) looking more shabby than it once did.


Worried that you only packed one tube of sunscreen? Not enough socks? Sticking these necessities in with a care package is the perfect way to ensure that your child will get them, especially if you don’t want to purchase them at the camp store. Remember to label any clothing that you send in the care package.

Try to avoid sending only necessity items and find the perfect balance of fun and necessary items to include in your summer camp care package.

Know the Rules

Many camps have guidelines and rules around care packages:  from contents to frequency to size to who can send.  Be sure you know the rules before you send a package or encourage family members to do so.  Some camps have strict rules on sending packages at all or have taken steps to make packages more equitable. If your camp limits the size or contents of the package, or limits to one package per week or per family, be sure to adhere to those guidelines.  If you don’t, the contents may end up in the trash with a lot of waste in terms of both time and expense.

For more summer camp tips, read the Pali blog.

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— Update: 05-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The best summer camp care package ideas for tweens and teens: A helpful list from a mom who’s been sending them for 9 years from the website coolmompicks.com for the keyword summer camp care package ideas 2019.

We are still celebrating the return to summer camp around here. And I am celebrating the joy of putting together summer camp care packages for my tweens and teens! The chance to run around with friends, swim, be silly, stay up too late, fill up their MadLibs with “edgy” adjectives (ha), read with flashlights in the dark, roast marshmallows and just be kids for a few weeks without phones and gadgets…well, it will be glorious for them.

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For kids who love camp, and are able to return safely — maybe for the first time since 2019 —  it’s a really valuable step toward normalcy. And for parents like me, the chance to send care package gifts is my way of saying I still miss you beyond belief! 

Hopefully your camp has reinstated visiting weekends this year, something I really missed in 2021. If so, you can bring some of these camp care package ideas with you. If not…all the more reasons to make sure those care packages will be a little extra this year.

This post contains affiliate links and some purchases may generate a small commission that helps support our own small business at no additional cost to you. So, thank you!

– This post has been updated  for 2022 –

Note that I’m including items here you can buy online from sites like Etsy, Amazon and Target, in part because you can have them shipped directly to your kids, which is pretty convenient. That said, I’m always a fan of supporting my local neighborhood shops. Boutiques, clothing stores, hardware stores, drugstores and chemists craft stores — they all are packed with fun care package ideas (no pun intended) and you can wrap them up yourself with a more personal touch before sending them off.

Remember, personalized clothing labels on EVERYTHING can’t hurt. Send more. Really.

Stationery and Stamps

Yes, this is the one care package idea that benefits me possibly more than my own kids. That’s why I listed it first. Ha.

I love this personalized camp stationery by independent designer August & Oak from Minted, but plenty to choose from there to suit your own tween or teen’s style and interests.

Minted can ship it right to your camper, or, if you’re sending stationery themselves, be sure to include some pre-addressed envelopes along with stamps. It really helps. (Why do kids hate addressing envelopes so much?)

One more tip for parents with reluctant writers: When my youngest first went to summer camp, a single-sided card like this cute hedgehog stationery was perfect — the limited space made “filling the lines” feel less daunting to her. Did I get tons of cards in the mail? No. But I’ve still saved the ones I did get.

Fun craft supplies for the bunk

Bottom image:Nasim Keshmiri on Unsplash

We’ve always shared our favorite DIY gifts and craft kits for kids — and those also come in handy for camp care package ideas for your teens and even younger kids.

Friendship bracelet embroidery floss packs are super affordable and make a big impression — you can get enough for the entire bunk in the $5-8 range on Amazon or your local craft store. Print some friendship bracelet patterns and they’ll love it.

(PS The boys in my teens’ classes love them too, so don’t assume it’s just for girls.)

Larger beaded bracelet kits are also huge right now — grab one that includes little letter blocks so kids can make some with their friends’ names or nicknames (or superhero alter egos?) to make them more special.

If you want to step it up, Klutz makes this excellent all-in-one Friendship Bracelet Kit that my own kids love. They flew off the Amazon shelves on Prime Day last year so get one while you can!

If your kids prefer lanyards (or gimp or scoubidou, depending where you live), grab a lanyard kit that includes the hooks maybe include some printed lanyard pattern instructions.

A New Writing Journal

This Thoughts and Stuff journal by Seattle’s Noonday Design on Minted is so fun — and while it comes in different colors, I like the black and white version you can completely color in yourself. There are lots of journals designs for kids, whatever they’re into.

Another camp care package idea for tweens and teens is to send one of the personalized photo journals from Minted with a picture of the family pet. Aw. (Hey, maybe if your kid doesn’t write home to you, they’ll write home to the dog.)

Of course any spiral notebook or journal will do, like one from a drugstore or local office supply place — and you can always make it special by covering it with stickers. Which brings me to…

An Instant Camera…or your old point-and-shoot

When camps say no to phones, you can send your kid to camp with an old point-and-shoot you may have around, a disposable camera, or my kids’ favorite: The Also a great camera for camps that don’t allow electronics: The Fujifilm Instax Mini instant camera, which comes in so many amazing colors now, and the prices have dropped wildly since they were first released. A Fujifilm Instax bundle includes everything they’ll need, including a carrying case.

And don’t forget to send extra Instax Film, which gets more affordable in bulk.  (Ha, Amazon is telling me “You have purchased this item 5 times” so clearly my kids are fans of the film with the fun borders.)

Another nice bonus: An affordable photo album for Instax Mini photos — should your kid want to preserve them in another way besides taping them all over their bunk bed.

Alternately, if you want an extra-cool camp care package gift, you can send an old point-and shoot if your camp allows it. I tried to get mine charged and ready but alas, ten years later it’s not doing well. So I priced some new cameras and this Kodak PixPro point and shoot gets great ratings and is hugely on sale right now under $100 — or check out the Kodak PIXPRO digital camera starting around $74.

I would only suggest you get a camera from a brand you know if you’re shopping on Amazon — opt for Cannon, Fuji, Kodak, Olympus, Sony over GRAMMOOPIX or whatever.

And be sure they have a memory card (SanDisk is always trustworthy) that holds enough snaps for the summer — kids are used to nearly unlimited storage, having grown up with smartphone cameras.

Group games for the whole bunk

It’s hard to even know where to start, because games the whole bunk can play is always a favorite care package gift with my kids. My 14 year old is so obsessed with Werewolf, that every year on arrival day, her counselors help her unpack and cheer when they get to the box of cards! (Kind of hilarious.)

Not Parent Approved also remains a big hit, as does Apples to Appples. Superfight is really fun too, and one of our top birthday gifts for tween boys and girls.

Our older teens who like more…irreverent games love What Do You Meme. My 16 year old is a big fan of Over-Rated…and would be mortified if I sent her a deck. But she’d be thrilled too. Just know it’s up there with Cards Against Humanity in terms of content so be sure your summer camp is okay with that.

Table Topics also makes some teen-appropriate conversation starter card decks, though the to-go decks are a lot more affordable.  And hey, there’s always Mad Libs! Especially for your tweens and younger teens.

Check out these posts for even more ideas for games that make great summer camp care package gifts:

– The best group card games to play with the whole family
– 5 fun card games for kids that our family is loving right now.
– The best family board games for summer travel
–  4 fun games that my older and younger kids like playing together.

A Fun New T-Shirt

Kids get sick of the same clothes, especially if they’re away for 4 or more weeks. Sending a new shirt that reflects their interests — sports, movies, theater, or even a favorite show they’re missing can be a great way to make new friends. (“Hey, you like Daria too?).

Retro band shirts are so popular now, nearly every big clothing chain sells them pretty affordably, from Hot Topic to Target to Aeropostale where everything is on sale — the Run DMC tee above is now $7.99, wow.

Stickers! Or…Temporary Tattoos! Or…Both!

Shades from my own misspent youth, kids today are going crazy for stickers — to decorate water bottles, notebooks, letters home to friends, laptops, basically anything. Pick something your kids love, from anime to Stranger Things, animals, to Minecraft, even Marvel Avengers stickers (above) —  I guarantee you can find a big pack of them affordably on Amazon. Or, check local stationery stores or even drugstores.

We’re also long time fans of Tattly tattoos, and they have so many kid designs now it’s amazing, but teens might prefer thenatural curiosity pack of temporary tattoos, which seem to be the perfect theme for a camp. This is one case where I might spend a little more — the huge packs of tattoos on Amazon may be cheap, but the quality is eh. My kids love these.

Art Supplies and Gifts to Get Them Doodling

When it’s quiet time in the bunk, sometimes the kids would rather draw, sketch, or doodle. I love sending a new pack of colorful gel pens (this giant set is under $10!), colored pencils (this set of 24 from one of my favorite brands is just $6.23 right now on sale!), or water colors brush pens along with some sketch pads — whatever medium your kid prefers is great.

If they prefer more of a “project,” check out paint by number sets or I love this cool mandala artist set, above. Adult or teen coloring books are also a hit — this pop manga coloring book could be a perfect camp care package gift for kids who love the artist’s work.

Personalized pencils for kids are also a creative camp care package gift idea, and they’re cheaper than you might think.

Alternately, we’ve always been fans of Boogie Board reusable writing tablets, and for younger tweens and kids, their tiny new Sketch Pals mini tablets are so fun for playing tic tac toe or boxes with bunk mates. It’s a care package idea that’s screen-like…but not actually electronic.


Why is tape such a hot commodity at summer camp? I have no idea but every year my kids beg for rolls of tape. Send some and your kid may be the most popular kid in the bunk.

New Socks. Fun Ones.

Fun socks are always a fun, affordable camp care package idea, because my kids always manage to lose half their socks over the summer for some reason. Isn’t it great that socks are no longer considered lame? It’s so easy to find fun socks for kids these days.

Books. (No better time than rest time for reading.)

Even kids who are reluctant readers all year get more motivated when all their bunkmates are buried between the pages during rest hour after lunch. Have your kid make up an Amazon wishlist for books they want before camp begins, to help you out.

My 14 year old packed up YA books including Cool for Summer by Dahlia Adler, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. (She thought it would be good to read a sad book when surrounded by friends.)

Or get inspired with these terrific posts filled with book recommendations:

– The best children[s books of 2021 to read in 2022
– The best children’s books of 2020: All the award winners your kids should read in 2021
– 10 books for kids that became new movies and TV series
– 7 terrific new YA books with LGBTQ+ main characters
– 13 great fantasy and adventure books for tweens
– 5 important dystopian novels for tweens and teens to inspire positive action
– 16 creepy YA novels for kids who dig dark themes.

A Set of BFF Necklaces

If you’re missing your kid and you think (hope) they are missing you too, there’s something really sweet about sending a pair of matching BFF necklaces or bracelets, so they know you’ll be connected together again soon. I think this BFF avocado necklace set  at PuraVida is sweet. Maybe send it along with a snapshot of you wearing yours.

And hey, maybe it reminds them to eat their vegetables. Or uh, fruits, technically.

See more ideas in our roundup of the cutest best friend jewelry that goes beyond the split heart necklace. Just don’t send anything expensive, as you know!

Some Health and Hygiene Help. (Can’t help it, I’m a mom.)

Kids who are away for a few weeks will (hopefully) use up their bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away, so send along some extras. This year, evidently ticks are back with a vengeance (eek), so be sure to read our guide to the best, safe tick repellents for kids right now, like the top-rated mosquito and tick-repelling spray from Sawyer, above.

You could also send some Res-Q Ointment for any bites, burns, or scrapes they may get; Theraderm Cool Skin (a recent sponsor) for sunburns that they hopefully won’t get; along with Welly’s fun tie-dyed bandages— so affordable and perfect for summer camp care packages! But know that some camps are strict about sending even the most basic first-aid items, so check policies first.

Fun Snacks…If Allowed

Image + Tutorial: Club Crafted

I have one kid in a camp that’s a big N-O on food in care packages…then the other three in a camp that’s like, BRING IT ON PARENTS! If you’re in the latter camp, we put together a great post on 5 creative ways to send camp food gifts including these individual mini s’mores kits using a free printable s’mores kit label from Club Crafted. Kids may or may not be able to roast them over a fire, but  they’re a classic camp snack either way. Be sure to send enough for the whole bunk!

You can also find so many ready-to-ship s’mores kits online now that I may just have to do an entire post on Cool Mom Eats about the best ones.

Other ideas include Twizzlers, Smarties, lifesavers, Skittles, Pringles in every flavor (why are kids so obsessed with Pringles?) — the best bets don’t melt, so skip chocolate except for s’mores supplies. And try to avoid things like lollipops with individual wrappers so kids can go easy on the waste.

Also no gum. Camps will confiscate it immediately.

New Face Masks, Whoo-Hoo!

If like my kids, your camp has added disposable KN95 masks for kids  to the packing list this year, your kiddo might be more inclined to wear them if they’re kind of fun and funky, like these. If they have more grownup-sized faces, try these colorful KN95 masks

If you prefer a CDC (NIOSH) approved N95 mask like the ones from 3M, you can also find them readily now.

Just note that there are no NIOSH-approved KN95s — not because they’re necessarily ineffective, but  because they conform to other country’s standards and the US no longer certifies them because of the availability of NIOSH-approved N95s, which you can search on the CDC site at this link.

Pictures From Home

Whether you’re sending pics of siblings, the grandparents, or a bunch of their besties, my kids are always grateful to get them. It’s the simplest of care package gifts for camp, costs basically nothing (you can even just print a bunch out collage style on regular paper), and it helps reminds your kids how many people out there love them and wish them the best summer ever.

Also, a subtle reminder of all the people they get to see in September is pretty decent incentive to get them home again. If your teens are anything like mine, they basically never want to leave.

Does your camper have a favorite care package gift? I’d love to hear about it!


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About the Author: Tung Chi