swab summer packages


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Jun 10, 2007
I have had a few inquiries from relatives concerning what, if anything can and could and should be sent to a swab this summer. I know all the food/candy/snack restrictions and suggestions for later on in the year, but do these apply as well to swab summer?

And if things can be sent, what do you ex-swabs wish someone had sent you?

I think from our cadet's experience, the encouraging letters mean the most, so I would tell your relatives to try to send a funny card or just a short letter every week or two. He always said that because he didn't have the phone contact from home, it was great to get the letters that just told him what was going on back home and who was doing what. If we ran into one of his high school friends, we would write and tell him. It doesn't sound like much, but the cadets do appreciate the communication. Our son's friends sent cards over the summer that tried to encourage him and let him know they were proud of what he was doing. Getting stuff like that from their friends is really good for their morale. If you know your swab's address now, give it to all his/her good friends. You might be surprised how many of them write and that some of them wrote five or six times during swab summer. By the way, I don't believe there were restrictions on the food during swab summer, but it has been a few years.

Many congratulations to your swab!
Yes on the letters! These don't need to be important letters either, just things that make them feel like their lives haven't completely changed...because in a big way they have.

Newspaper clippings about a favorite local sports team, or recounts of things the family did, or friends did...they're big. Save the letters you get from your Swabs too.
What sort of things should I consider sending my SWAB in a 'care' package?

Send food! That is something they can really appreciate. They get three meals a day, but are always hungry for many reasons, stress, heat, activity, and homesickness. Send their favorite food item from your home pantry. Pack it in a reusable or plastic container that will fit on a shelf or in a small cabinet. Send the things they loved to snack on when they were sitting around the house. Nothing perishable. Any remembrances of home are appreciated. Remember Halloween and Valentine's Day, especially. Add special treats. This is a place you can really splurge. And send them often. Send enough to share. Food goes fast there. When someone gets a care package from home with food in it, everyone gathers around for handouts. So, think of roommates and classmates when you put a care package together. Food care packages are a welcomed gift and those who get them are very popular! Your SWAB will eventually tell you what to send more of and or what to send less of.

What sort of containers should I ship food in?

Tupperware (zip lock baggies are good too) - maximum dimensions - the 'food drawer' is 6in by 17in by 20in and so the container needs to be smaller (12in by 12in by 6in, according to 2006 and 2007 Running Light). After the initial Tupperware, use shoe boxes, flat rate USPS boxes or other disposable or recyclable containers for 'care package' delivery. The cadets have such limited space that they don't need extra Tupperware!

from uscgaparents.org
Once the end of swab summer comes, think about using the Ensign Edibles. That is a great service provided by the wonderful local parents in Connecticut. You can go online and order many items and they will be delivered to your cadet, anything from food to gift cards to coupons for the bowling alley. And they take PayPal!! We like to send him vouchers for the Dry Dock available through Ensign Edibles. Then he can go there for a burger and fries or a pizza or whatever every once in a while. They often have specials depending on the time of the year for holiday ideas or for finals week. It is a great service.
One nice thing you can do is when you drop your son or daughter off, drop a postcard or letter in the mail that day. That way, when they first check their mailboxes, they have some mail. That meant a lot for me, as I was just realizing what I had gotten into at that point. Also, another nice thing is send pre addressed/stamped envelopes for them to write letters to you. That helps save them some precious time.