Tag Archives: Old fashioned letter writing

Write An Old-Fashioned Letter To My Kid At Camp

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Last year, Tech went to overnight camp for a month. When he got home, he ate and slept. And then he complained that I hadn’t written enough.

You guys, I wrote a lot of letters.

Seriously, I wrote one every other day. That’s 14 letters, if you round down.

My son claims some kids received mail every single day.

This year my son is going to overnight camp for the entire summer.

That’s seven weeks, people.

I don’t have enough going on in my life to write him a letter every stinkin’ day. I know what you’re thinking: use your imagination. Believe me, I sent that boy plenty of creative letters, but there’s such a thing as burnout.

Plus, I’m old-school in that I believe there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned letter. One that someone wrote with his or her own hand.

Those types of letters take a little longer to craft.

So I’m appealing to you, my friends from the blogosphere. You’re readers and writers. You’re funny and smart and creative. You have pens and stamps.


Last year I asked you to write to Tech at camp, and you did! I gave him all your letters on Visitor’s Day, and he responded to people in a 3-part post when he returned home. If you’d like, you can check out Part I • Part II • Part III

This year, I’m begging asking you to write my kid a handwritten letter.

Partly because I think it’ll be hilarious for Tech to receive letters from people he doesn’t know.

But also because I’ve noticed how few people send letters anymore. Sure, we have email, mobile phones, and Facebook, but sometimes it’s nice to go to the mailbox and find something with your name on it.

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Here’s what you do to enter:

  • Write a letter of any length, appropriate for a 14-year-old boy.
  • It must be handwritten. Typed letters will be disqualified.
  • It must be legible. Please print neatly. 
  • It must be pretty. No boring white paper. Be creative.
  • Send the letter to me between now & July 31, 2013. If you send it after that, I won’t be able to get it to Tech in time as U.S. Postal Service to camp is wicked slow!

When I receive your letters, I’ll steam open the envelopes to check out the submissions. That’s right, I’ll review each letter for originality, creativity, and visual appeal before forwarding it to the boy at camp.


I’ll feature my favorite letters on my blog, and include blurbs about their authors. 

One of you stands to win best letter writer. That person will win a $25 gift card to somewhere awesome.

Tech isn’t in the dark. He’s agreed to respond to the winner. In addition to sending a handwritten letter to the winner via U.S. mail, I’ll post his illegible, yet handwritten response on my blog.

When writing a kid at camp, there are 3 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 homesick, don’t get all hyper and tell him you’ll pick him up. Oy. He’s just venting.

Rule #2: Don’t be scary. At overnight camp, kids are completely cut off from the outside world. They really don’t know what’s going on, so it’s not funny to say the family pet died. They don’t need to hear about shootings or death or illness. A zombie apocalypse isn’t funny when you are away from the people you love.

Rule #3: 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 entertain him. Suggested topics: 1) girls, 2) Minecraft, 3) fencing, 4) Euchre, 5) technology (since he won’t have any), 6) tips on how to live with mean kids, 7) tips regarding how he can keep track of his socks.

If all else fails, tell him about what you used to do when you went to camp.

Unless you set things on fire or got girls pregnant.

In which case,  don’t write about that.


If you’d like to write a handwritten letter to Tech while he’s at summer camp, please indicate your interest in the comments section. I’ll contact you with the necessary information. Don’t wait. You know what happens when you wait. 

tweet me @rasjacobson

Why Overnight Camp Rocks: Part II

This is the 2nd part of a three-part piece on why I send my child to overnight camp. Click HERE to read part I.

As I mentioned in my last entry, there are definitely parents who buy into the whole ethos of sending one’s child to overnight camp. This entry is not written for them, as that would be preaching to the choir. Really, these pieces are for all the people who have ever looked at me sideways, gotten all judgmental on me, and wandered off whispering to a friend after I have proudly admitted that I send my son to summer camp. And yes, he has been going since he was 8 years old and, yes – eventually – instead of a mere 3 weeks, he will likely spend his entire summers there.

If my last entry didn’t convince you, here are even more benefits to sending your child to summer camp:

6. A chance to be a little bit naughty. Some of my favorite camp memories involve being a little bit “bad.” We girls would raid the boys’ cabins, get all their underwear, and hang them on the flagpole in front of the dining hall. Then, they, of course, would get us back. We would stay up way past our allowed bedtimes (at home) and torment the on-duty counselors in the village, claiming there were ghosts in our cabin. (Really. There were. Three of them.) Sometimes we refused to participate in a particular activity – just because. We were kids exercising a little bit of control that we knew we probably wouldn’t have gotten away with at home. My son said that one of his favorite “naughty moments” happened one year when the counselors and campers threw rotten plums, mustard and ketchup  at each other. “It was like getting slimed!” he exclaimed. He mentioned that a few kids also “smeared shaving cream all over each other”; these are things campers all across the country do each summer, but to kids, these oldies but goodies are eternally new. And of course, all of this programming is created and orchestrated by a very capable staff who oversee everything and make sure no-one gets  too out of control.

7. A chance to get down and dirty. During the school year, kids worry so much about their physical appearance. They want the “right” clothes from the “coolest” stores. At camp, with the exception of a few special programs, campers can relax and not worry about their clothes or their hair. If it rains, they can cover themselves in mud, go mud-sliding, make mud pies, and then  wash-off in the lake. They can have a huge all-camp Color War that goes on for days and culminates in one crazy event like a giant colored water balloon contest and laugh as the inky ballons explode on impact. Heaven help me, but they can go to bed without brushing their teeth. They can even go to bed with dirty feet. Now I may be an extreme neatnik, but it’s hard for me to imagine even the most mellow parent appreciating a mud-covered kid lounging on the couches or dragging funky feet over freshly vacuumed carpets. At camp, anything goes when it comes to good, wholesome, messy fun.

8. A chance to make lifelong friendships. When people live together for extended periods of time – adopt the same schedule, perform the same daily rituals, sing the same songs, chant the same cheers, share the same inside jokes – a community is formed. And when people return year after year, this community becomes a kind of family. Many of the people I consider to be my closet friends are the people I went to summer camp with nearly 30 years ago. Some of them live nearby, some of them live farther away. These relationships ebb and flow, but I feel confident when I say that I have a core group of folks whom, I believe, that if I needed them, I could count on them to be there for me. To loosely quote James Taylor, I could just call out their names, and they’d come runnin’…

9. The opportunity to rediscover my spouse. During the year, husband and I tend to become so child-centered that we often toss our own interests aside. Even our connection to each other sometimes falls on the back burner. It’s always there; it’s just that sometimes it’s on a low simmer. While our boy is off enjoying himself at camp, we can refocus our energy and rediscover each other — which is nice. So after he is done with work, hubby gets unlimited, guilt-free golf; and I get to swim and write and write and write without interruption. We eat later than we usually do, and we talk about adult stuff. We go out with friends — often with plans made at the last moment — and never have to fuss about making sitter arrangements. We watch movies that we have been putting off forever, and we even have a chance to make plans about the future as individuals and as a family. We are dangerously free, which is kinda nice. Honestly, alone-time with the spouse is not to be minimized!

10. The Big Reunion. Unlike Alice who falls down a rabbit hole and unwittingly lands in Wonderland, or Dorothy from Kansas, who accidentally lands in Munchkinland after a tornado carries her house away, there is nothing accidental about our son’s departure. The week before he leaves, we create a “staging area” where we label all his clothes. We make a very intentional trip to The Dollar Store for glow sticks and decks of cards, whoopee cushions and over-sized sunglasses, and all kids of other goofy kid stuff that he can use while at camp. He packs his favorite books and magazines and a few packs of gum. And, believe me, that kid is psyched! That said, like anyone who has ever journeyed from home for a while, while one certainly appreciates the change in scene, the people, the opportunities to do things you have never done before – perhaps you never thought you’d ever get to do – at the end of the journey, it always feels so good to go home. We are all reminded of the meaning of the words “fortunate” and “grateful” and “love.” Our son remembers how comfortable his bed is, and we are amazed at how quickly children grow.

For a few days, I don’t mind when my son carelessly tosses his sneakers about or that he forgets to put his dishes in the sink; I realize he’s out of practice. I don’t mind the seemingly endless loads of laundry, the piles of important rocks that he’s brought home, and I actually enjoy washing a few extra dishes because I am just so happy we are together again. I kind of love that 80% of his sentences start with, “When I was at camp…” or “Did I tell you about the time at camp when I ….”

What can I say? It’s in his blood. He drank the bug-juice and loves it.