A yellowed 4-cent postcard surfaced from the bottom of an old shoebox stashed in our attic. A classic in time, it was sent before ZIP codes and eons before cellphones and snappy email. The relic wasn’t written by some great-grandparent, but by my “boomer” husband to his parents when he was off to camp for the first time at Round Lake in northern Minnesota at the age of 10.
I’m sure his parents were waiting patiently for news of the week. Was he healthy, happy, making new friends, missing his parents — but not too much? — all those concerns we have when our kids are away from home for the first time.
Well, here’s what he wrote:
“Dear Mom and Dad,
I wasn’t going to write, but they made me write it or I couldn’t eat dinner. Camp is really fun. We won volleyball and water polo today and now tied for second place. Well, now that I got this written, I can go eat.
While we like to receive any word from our kids while they’re away at sleepover camp, it’s the campers who also like to hear their name at “mail call.” Here are some tips:
— Write and send a note or two to your child’s camp via U.S. mail a few days before he leaves home. Your child will be thrilled to hear from you the first day of camp. Keep the letters coming. They’ll no doubt end up in a scrapbook (or shoebox) your child will treasure in years to come.
— If your child is a baseball fan, remember to send clippings of box scores of games missed while away, or send a favorite comic strip from the paper.
— Tuck in addressed envelopes, stamps and a pen to encourage your child to write home.
— If your child’s camp will print out your emailed letters, try not to overload the system. There is a fine line between keeping in touch and letting your child feel independent and “away” from his typical “at home” routine.
TIP: A camp experience in the outdoors can positively impact a child. Consider sending a kid to camp by providing scholarship funds for someone who might not otherwise have resources. Contact a camp of your choice or your local YMCA directly to find out how you can sponsor a camper.
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© 2022 Donna Erickson
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