If your children have ever attended camp, chances are you’ve walked out to your mailbox at some point in the summer to find a letter that goes something like this:
Hi Mom and Dad,
I passed my swim test. Yay! I almost made it all the way to the top of the climbing wall yesterday. More yay! I WILL zipline before the end of the summer! I bounced the ball off the post and actually scored a goal in soccer earlier today. FIRST GOAL EVER! The most yay! Went on a nature hike a few days ago. We saw a squirrel and named him Sam. At least we think it was a squirrel. It could have been a bunny. Emma said that maybe it was a chupacabra. Duh! Chupacabras aren’t real. But we just said, “Maybe.” Then we thought it would be funny if we actually told people we saw a chupacabra just to see how many people we could get to believe us. So now like a lot more people than I ever thought would believe there is a chupacabra running around in the woods, which is kind of bad because now it’s IMPOSSIBLE to sign up for nature because everyone wants to go on hikes in the woods to see the chupacabra. Long story short, if Max writes home about seeing a chupacabra, it was a squirrel (or a bunny). And if he finds out it was a squirrel and writes home that I told him it was a chupacabra, it wasn’t a trick I was playing on him specifically—and it wasn’t just me.
So my friend Katie and I made up this new game to see who can make up the goofiest knock knock joke. Wanna hear the (kinda) funny joke she made up while we were walking? Knock knock. Who’s there? Katie. Katie who? Katiepillar. I made up one at dinner but it’s not as funny. Knock knock. Who’s there? Butter. Butter who? Butterfly. I also learned a new card trick in magic the other day that I can’t wait to show you when I get home. My favorite thing so far is cooking. Yesterday, we made chocolate chip cookies. Don’t be mad. I ate two. But they were small. Speaking of food, can we have pancakes more often when I get home? I never realized I like pancakes so much before. Gotta go. Time for guitar. Love ya!
p.s. Can you add this list to the other list of things I asked you to bring on visiting day? Doritos, M&M’s (not the peanut kind), gummi bears, and Sweet Tarts (the chewy kind).
Many summer camps make letter writing a regular part of campers’schedule and deliver
letters from parents and relatives to campers each day. For campers, there is something special about sprawling across their bed at camp and reading what Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, and maybe even pets have been up to.
For parents, seeing a letter in their children’s handwriting makes the communication more personable. It’s endearing to think one’s son or daughter took the time out of his or day to write home. Some parents even joke about how refreshing it is to receive a message that isn’t so full of abbreviated words that it requires an interpreter, like many text messages. It also lends added significance to those things about which children choose to write. Parents have reported that it helps them more closely identify their children’s interests. If a child dedicates two thirds of each letter home to how much fun she is having playing tennis, it’s a good indication that tennis is playing a particularly important role in the success of the camper’s summer. Some parents are so highly entertained by their children’s letters from camp that they make scrapbooks of their children’s letters from camp throughout the years as a memoir. Author Diane Falanga was so inspired by children’s letters from camp that she published a compilation of them.
Sadly, email and text messaging have almost made the art of letter writing—taking pen to paper—extinct. But summer camp is a place where the tradition still survives. Summer is a time when the joy of receiving an envelope with one’s name on it is rediscovered every summer by thousands of children and parents alike.