This year my son decided he wanted to stay at his overnight camp longer. He was willing to leave behind his close-knit group of friends in August and strike out on his own to meet totally new kids in July to have that extra week. Now I’ve been pretty good about not freaking out about this because
I know 65% of the staff at the camp and I have the phone number of the Camp Director, I’ve known the Staff Director for 30 years, and I’m playing WWF with the Associate Director, and I can reach any of them in about 3 minutes I know that I can stay in touch with him via letters.
As far as I’m concerned, when writing your child who is at overnight camp, there are two rules.
Rule #1: Don’t be sad. Never tell your child that you are missing her so much that it hurts. That’s a disaster. And if your kid writes to say he is sad or homesick, don’t get all hyper and tell him you’ll pick him up. Oy. He’s just venting. No! No! No!
Rule #2: Be funny. Camp is fun – and your letters should be too. Tell stories. Take a moment from your day and embellish it like crazy. When I write to Tech, I try to be entertaining. And by that, I mean, I try to entertain myself while simultaneously torturing him.
At almost 13 years old, Tech is currently obsessed with two things: dubstep and Minecraft. If you don’t know what these things are, you are probably not the parent of a teenage boy.
Here is the first letter from home that I tapped out to my son.
• • •
You have been gone for 12 hours. I imagine you guys are just getting settled into your cabin about now. You have to tell me all the stuff you know I want to know like which cabin you are in? And who are you sleeping next to? Were things decided pretty easily or did enormous fist-fights break out? If so, was anyone seriously injured? I hope you have met some cool new people. I also hope that there are no doojies in your bunk, but you know there is always one kid. (And sometimes two.) But hopefully not.
Okay, the standard questions: How did you do on your swim test? Which hobby did you get? Who are your counselors? Are you going to ask you-know-who on Shabbat walk? If you have given up on her, is there someone else that has caught your eye? Did your cousins greet you with hugs? I paid them a lot of money to make sure there would be hugs. Please let me know if you do not feel you received a proper welcome in which case I will request a full refund. Be certain everyone knows that A & A are your first cousins because 1) they are totally cool, 2) they are staff, 3) no one will screw with you if they know you have bodyguards on the premises.
Dad & I are redecorating your room. Are you okay with yellow walls and a pink comforter? I’m pretty sure that is what you said. Dad thought pink walls and yellow comforter. Who is right? And don’t say you don’t want your room redecorated. We know you will love it when it it done!
Oh — bad news — I accidentally deleted Minecraft from my computer so you will probably have to start building your world again. Oh, I’m sorry. Did seeing the word “Minecraft” make you experience withdrawal symptoms? I’m sorry to have mentioned Minecraft. It’s probably hard for you to be away from Minecraft. Did you find out if anyone else likes to mine? What about dubstep? By the time you leave, I’m guessing everyone will be digging Dead Mouse and Skrillex.
I love you eleventy-bazillion pounds. And that, my son, is a lot.
Have a great time and be the great person that you are.
(Or be that kid. Either way.)
Sending you all my crazy-embarrassing motherly love.
I’d love it if you would leave a note for Tech while he is at summer camp during the month of July! Write as much or as little as you would like. I will print out all of your responses and bring them to him on Visitors Day which is set for July 15.
Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson
Way back in the prehistoric days, when your mom was my Sr. Camper, she was a ton of fun and didn’t stop. She was in the middle of everything, good and bad. 😉 She loved being in the midst of things, especially the boys. But she was well loved and has always had a special place in my heart. Fast forward all these years and you are at camp, along with my daughter, J, (who is on staff) and your mom and I are at home, bored out of our minds, with nothing to do. So when your mom blogged and invited us to write to you, I took her up on the offer since J doesn’t want me to write. Last year J actually brought home a letter I wrote her that she never even opened, let alone read!! Can you believe that?! Don’t do that to your mom as I think that might throw her over the edge.
I hope/know you’re having fun because CSL is a very, very special place. And it still is, even after all these years. Your mom is there in spirit, as am I, but it now belongs to you and J and your mom and I couldn’t be happier.
You. Are. Awesome. What do you mean I was in the muddle of everything- good and bad? Whaaat? Me? 😉
I’m a new follower to your mom’s blog and you should be really proud of her. She is hilarious and super smart. Anyways, on to my “wits of wisdom” when it comes to overnight summer camps:
1) Don’t roll in poison ivy just to fit in;
2) Don’t sleep next to the nerd as he or she can get really clingy and then everyone thinks that he/she is your best friend;
3) Try and sleep whenever you can — because before you know it — those camp leaders will be blowing a trumpet and banging a large skillet in your ear at the crack of dawn (sorry if it’s too late on that one); and
4) Make sure your mom knows the pick-up time for the last day of camp so you don’t end up cooking spaghetti for the next group of campers (trust me on this one).
So good luck, kid. You’re gonna need it. Hey, if you want any more useful camp tips, and how I successfully sent my daughter off to her first camp this summer, read my post (make sure it’s OK with your mom first) “Never Wave Goodbye” at http://www.clearlykristal.com.
Have you ever heard of Allen Sherman? He wrote a great song about camp – Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. You should write your own version to your mom. It’d freak her out, which would be awesome.
Ricky, you rock. I’m in Florida with limited Wifi, so I appreciate your words. I also appreciate your attempts to get Sir Math/Science to write a book. One week in and I’d be happy to see a letter. 😉
Dear Tech: hope you’re enjoying camp. My son and I just returned from Scout camp a week ago and had a great time. A little different since I was there with him, but he was mostly off on his own anyhow. I don’t know what dubstep is but my kid plays Minecraft about 48 hours a day… or something like that. You’re probably doing much more fun things like swimming and hiking and stuff that you do outside, and that’s much cooler than sitting in front of a computer screen all day! Your Mom didn’t explain to us what doojies are… maybe that’s something that everyone knows except me. Anyhow, perhaps you can get her to share that information. Have fun!
Hi Cowboy Steve! “Doojie” is short for douche-bag. You know, THAT kid? The one who drives you crazy because he touches your stuff or stands on his bed with his muddy feet and hairy toes. Maybe he steals your gum or picks fights. I forgot out “code” might not transfer. Hopefully he’s not THAT kid. 😉
Listen. I have a huge favor to ask. My parents never let me go to camp (this may be a lie. I may have been too much of a wimp to go to sleep-away camp), so you need to make sure you do the following things. For both of us:
1.) Enter a talent show singing any number from Camp Rock. The first one, not the sequel. If there is no talent show, make your own. It looks really easy and I’m sure everyone plays an instrument and has matching outfits in their suitcases.
2.) Start a food fight, but make sure you know in advance who you’re going to blame it on.
3.) Find a kid who looks exactly like you and trade places.
Thanks, Tech! I knew I could count on you.
P.S. – Do this, and I’ll make sure there are Pop-Tarts and Nutella in your next care package.
Omigosh! I would pay to see Tech singing in a talent show. But for real, the kids do pack some crazy shizz in those trunks, so this could happen. Boy might sing for Nutella.
My 14-year-old daughter is going away to overnight camp for the first time in a couple of weeks. As far as boys go, what things should I warn her about? I figure you have the inside scoop on this. And since both of you recently got new glasses I know you are both seeing things so much clearer.
Hope you are having the greatest time! I have such fond memories of camp.
Yeah, um.., so I’m kind of thinking the same thing. Like is he making out right now because it has been very quiet. No letters at day 9! Ack! I have no idea what he’s doing or with whom. I’ll try to get some answers from Tech on Visitor’s Day. When does your daughter head out?
In a week and a half. We’ve started checking off the packing list.
Dear Tech, Wash your underwear. I know a guy who wore the same pair of underwear the entire time as camp and got diaper rash.
Hi Duffy! A Tech’s camp they call that Cayuga Tushy Rash, and the Cayugans are the youngest boys so to get it would be very embarrassing. No, I think he’s got the concept of changing out of wet bathingsuits and into clean underwear. But brushing his teeth. Um, I don’t know about that. Now that he is more interested in girls, hopefully he won’t be such a muck mouth.
I’m willing to bet your mom loves you even more than eleventy-bazillion pounds.
This is, of course, just a hunch.
But I also know that Minecraft is awesome.
So you can probably take my word for it.
p.s. The colors pink and yellow aren’t so bad. I hear they scare away the Minecraft zombies anyway.
Dude! See? Julie C. Gardner even approves of the new bedroom colors. It’s going to bs so smokin’. But I did have to take down his fencing memorabelia. I’m sure he’ll get over it in no time.
Oh, and it was his trunk that weighed eleventy-bajillion pounds. And yes, I love my boy more than all the green kelpy stuff in Seneca Lake. And that’s a loit.
I just glimpsed your newly updated rainbow bedroom, and man, am I jealous! I told your mom that the purple unicorns were a bit much, but she insisted. So, if you wanna make a quick buck upon your return, my bid is ready.
Hope you’re having a GREAT time!
One of your adoring blog-aunties,
Hi August! He is going to learn to love those unicorns, just like his buddy, Todd Youngman. Trust me on this. And the rainbow room now has clouds on the ceiling. So cool. I might move in. I’m sure Tech won’t mind at all. 😉
Do not do what my son did at camp a few years ago.
Contrary to what teenage boys think, swimming does not count as a shower. I threw up in my mouth when he hugged me. Spare your mother. Shower regularly.
Lish! I’m sorry to hear your son stank like a little piggy. Tech brought 27 different Axe products to layer while at camp. I think he’s good. But since he hasn’t written one letter, I actually have no way of knowing what he might need. For all I know, he could be out of shampoo or deodorant. Now I’m barfing in my mouth a little. 😉
We drove across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (all 24 miles) with the windows down. It was awful. Perfect material for me to trot out some day to the grandkids! Because (like I told El earlier) no one ever tells the grandkids about the regular stuff!
Hey Tech! I hear you are into dubstep. Well my son is a DJ and makes electronic music! Yep. I rock out to it too, but he hasn’t let me go to any of his gigs yet. If you see any of my dance videos, you would know why! You will have to look up Kelly Lindau on Soundcloud when you get back.
In the meantime keep in mind that he is an Eagle scout and spent a lot of time in tents! One year when he went to camp he got “The Dirtiest Scout” award. Believe me. His uniform was black! The following year he won “The Cleanest Scout.” I am not sure if he felt like he needed to prove himself or just liked striving for certain awards! They gave him a sponge and dishwashing liquid. They are still up on his bedroom shelf and he is 22!
I loved camp and spent a lot of my time looking for bugs, frogs, snakes, and turtles.
Roast a marshmallow for me and remember to “sink your sail!” (napkin on lap) Maybe only the girl scouts used that jargon.
Have blast but don’t blow anything up…
With lots of high fives~
Wild Riding Susie from Colorado!
Of course you are a camper! Duh! I love that your son won Dirtiest Camper and then he cleaned up his act. They give paper plate awards at the end of camp. I wonder what Tech will get.
If you’re gonna hold hands with and kiss any girls, I’d recommend showering as opposed to simply rinsing off in the lake. Chicks dig clean. They don’t so much dig Axe body spray, or any other body spray, rdespite what the commercials say. That may well be a life lesson as opposed to a Camp-centric one, but it still counts.
What also counts is taking cheesy photos of the following:
Your cabin, your bunkmates, the lake at dawn, your favourite counsellor, the Camp flag, your best meal, the lake at sunset, the tan lines on your feet, a shot from the back of the canoe, a shot from the front, you and the girl you kiss…
Have a GREAT time!
P.S. I would like to add that I wrote the stuff about Axe body spray before I read that you hauled a bunch with you. Whatever. Chicks still dig clean – the deodorant-only kind. Trust me.
I agree with you 100%. Clean is good. Brushing your teeth two or even three times a day is extra good. Because no one wants to smooch a muck mouth. Or even hold hands with one. Am I right, Lizzie? Yuck. Tech brought Axe, but I think he is a soap kind of guy. I hope. 😉
I hope you’re having fun at CSL. Didn’t you know that you’re supposed to write the postcards ahead of time (before you even leave for camp), then mail out one each week? You know: “Dear Mom. Camp is great. Making lots of new friends. Yada Yada Yada.” Oh well. You can try that next year.
I do hope you take lots of picture, though. I don’t have enough from my camp years.
In case I didn’t get a chance to mention it. You had the best bar mitzvah EVER! You totally rocked!
Have an awesome summer!
PS – You might want to check with your grandparents how often your Mom wrote home from camp! Oh. Wait. Then you’d have to write them. ;o)
Yes, yes! He needs to use his camera! Boys aren’t as good about that stuff as girls are. But I hope he will listen to you on that. He needs to take pictures, especially candid shots from the bunk. I wrote home a ton. I am a writer. I always wrote. And my parents have the letters to prove it. Plus I wrote to both sets of grandparents. I am hearing from friends that girls still write; boys, not so much. It’s okay. If there were bad news, I’d know about it.
I’m so jealous you’re at camp! Those are some seriously good summers. But I’m not going to say it’s the best time of your life because I hated when adults said stuff like that. I mean, are you supposed to just dread the next 80+ years (God willing) after hearing something like that? You will have wonderful summers even as an adult, but these summers at camp are certainly unforgettable.
From, your mom’s friend, Nina
Seriously good summers. Like you’ll never forget them, right. He doesn’t even know how good he has it. Le sigh.
Now *this* made me grin. And when I got to the bedroom redecorating I was howling!! And the multiple use of Minecraft in one paragraph: brilliant!!!!
Hi El! Thanks for the kind words! But you were supposed to write HIM a letter! Come back and write to Tech! 😉 Please!
Dear Tech. Nobody ever gets too grown up for Dr Seuss.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
You are hilarious for putting all of this on the blog. You want to kill my printer, that’s what you want, isn’t it? He’s going to love this. And you know what? It’s a great lesson for camp. Because sometimes he will be in that prickly perch, but he’ll come out of it. So thanks, Penny!
Hi ! Once upon time there was a boy named Tech…………He lived happily ever after….The End.
Dear Tech Support:
I just want to say that I am so jealous that you are at summer camp for a month! I went to a camp for 5 years and then worked there as a counselor for another 6, and I still miss going! What’s your favorite camp activity? Mine was Archery – that’s what I taught every summer I worked there. I also liked our weekly campfires where we all sat around a big firepit and sang songs.
Definitely take tons of pictures – it’s easier these days with digital than back in the dark ages when I was a camper. Share them with your mom when you get home so she can share them with her blog readers. I’d love to see what your camp looks like – mine was on a river instead of a lake, and we lived in platform tents instead of cabins.
I wish you lots of sunny days (although rainy days can be fun at camp too) and absolutely no poison ivy or bed-bugs. (I had both at my first ever camp – never went back to that one!)
Hi Chrystal: While archery is definitely an option, I can tell you that Tech got his 1st choice for hobbies: Culinary Arts. That dude likes to cook! I love your advice about taking pictures and it’s not something I said to him. But you are so right! He needs to pull that camera out! Thank you for that! 😉
Dear Tech: It’s okay to have crushes on girl counsellors, but it’s kind of a waste of time. I had a crush on a male counsellor named Jerry. That was in 1842. I’m thankful I did not waste 170 years on him.
Meet as many new kids as you can, and remember, the dorky ones will be the cool ones at the camp reunion in 20 years. Or at least the ones with lots of money.
Yeah, crushes on counselors are kind of a disaster. Unlike you, I spent a lot of years crushing on one in particular. That was stupid. And I intend to stop thinking about him. Any day now. 😉
My son and his buddies had a crush on a counselor at camp – Ginger… she’s been a counselor every year they’ve gone and this year they began to notice her – she even sat with them during the closing campfire – i don’t think they even remember the campfire or that there was a campfire
I hope all is well and you are enjoying your summer. It must be fun not having technology for a few weeks.
I was at scout camp a couple of weeks ago and I had fun – even as an adult. I swam, watched the scouts, took part in the evening activities and pretended to be a 13 year old, all over again. I embarrassed my son, who’s 14, with my behavior – he just rolled his eyes and looked away! It didn’t stop me.
I hope the food is good, but you’ve been there before and know the cook staff is always on the hunt for new meal ideas and you’ve never thought about why you don’t see animals around camp. Maybe, you should wonder – what is that meat? Hmmmmm.
Well before you know it, camp will be over and it will be time for – dare I say, school? And, you know the song – “There’s a hundred and four days of summer vacation ‘til school comes along just to end it…..” If only school were a 104 days long!
Take care and enjoy camp while it lasts, the days scream by when you are having fun and you’ll need the memories to keep you focused on getting through 8th grade and on to next summer. Keep making your days count – savor them, because you are only a kid once and being an adult is for keeps, unless you get to go to summer camp with your kid in thirty years!
Hey Clay! Thanks for writing the boy. The cooks at camp are pretty good. But, I must say, if I remember correctly, there is NEVER enough pizza. Ever. We were like wolves on pizza day, clawing each other to get to that cheesy goodness.
I’m glad you got to go camping. Who says you can never go back? 😉
Okay so I’m suspossed to write to Tech – but that is such a wonderful letter you wrote to him. Thanks for sharing! Tech is one lucky guy to have such a great MOM.
Thanks Pam! And thanks for following along. You have my heart.
I never went to summer camp, or boot camp, or any other kind of camp for that matter. I have camped out on occasion, but that was different because there were no counselors around, so I got to call the shots.
I know a couple of things about camping. One is a piece of advice: Don’t try to carve an atlatl (a spear thrower) from a piece of wood with a jackknife. The knife may close accidentally on your finger and you will need stitches. This happened to my son. (He is fine now and you can barely see the scar. . . . actually I can’t see it at all, but he says he can and I believe him because it’s his finger.)
The other thing I know is a song that is fun to sing in a group. It’s called “Black Socks.” Maybe you know it? It goes like this:
Black socks, they never get dirty, the longer you wear them, the stronger they get.
Sometimes I think I might wash them, but something inside me keeps saying
not yet, not yet, not yet . . . .
That’s it. The sum total of my knowledge on summer camp. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but hopefully you’re doing quite well on your own.
I do have one more thought, but it’s only an opinion. Blacken the marshmallow. It goes farther that way. You peel the charred skin off, eat it, and roast what’s left on the stick all over again. You keep doing it and If you get really proficient at it, you can end up with a marshmallow the size of a pencil eraser. This will astonish your fellow campers. Trust me.
Yours in camping,
Mary! If my kid brought a knife to camp, he’d have been sent home already – so I think we okay there.
I am soooooo with you on the marshmallow thing. Yes yes yes. Char and peel. Char and peel. We could totally camp together. Am printing these out for him now and then coming to find you. Thank you!