Kate Margolese currently directs an introductory overnight program for 7 and 8 year olds at Camp Wohelo in Raymond, Maine in the summer where she has spent 16 summers as camper and counselor. Her two daughters love returning to summer camp year after year. She has experienced first hand the mix of emotions in sending a child to camp from watching their confidence grow as they take on new independence to missing the daily parent-child interactions. When she finds time at camp, she writes on her blog, Summer Camp.
In our high tech world, there are few places where a handwritten, or even typed letter, is so treasured as at summer camp. Following a few guidelines can turn a mundane recounting of your daily routine into a letter that your child may even prize as much as a package. Okay, any letter is unlikely to be elevated to package status, but at least you can create a memorable missive to your summer camper.
Supposedly students are taught to read and write cursive in grade three. Yet in most cases, opening a letter and discovering cursive is about as appealing as being served broccoli for breakfast and likely to be pushed aside just as quickly. For camp letter legibility stick with printing.
We all like eye candy-- make your letter visually appealing. Use multiple colors of ink, decorate the margins, draw pictures occasionally in place of words. You may even feel like a kid again as you write.
You are chatting with your child not writing a memo to your manager. Use playful expressions, interrupt yourself, get off topic, meander.
Topics are Irrelevant
Unless you parachuted from an airplane and landed in a coconut tree on your commute to work, you don't need to recount your daily routine. Tell your child about the dog in the supermarket or how you had to retrieve your car keys from the garbage. You may want to know your child's schedule and every interaction, but he just wants to get a letter and know you are thinking of him. Laughing out loud while reading is a huge bonus, hearing about the traffic on the way to work, not so much.
Especially if this is your child's first experience away from home, you want to stay upbeat. No need to mention how sad you are without her celebrating the fourth of July with you or how you are counting the days until she is home. It is fine to let her know you love her, but you don't want her worrying how you will manage without her at home.
Jokes, Riddles and Humor
If you are still stuck for what to write, find some jokes, riddles, puzzles or puns to include. Letters don't need to be long or newsy. They do need to arrive and let your camper know you are thinking of her.