Mail call is an exciting time at camp, with even the most independent camper eagerly awaiting a letter or a package from home. Parents may receive very few letters from camp (one year at camp, my son only grudgingly wrote one letter documenting the number of grilled cheese sandwiches he ate at lunch that day!), but campers love to get mail!
But what makes a great letter from home? Here are a few dos and don’ts on communicating with your camper:
What to say:
- Ask lots of questions, even if you will never get answers to many of them!
- How warm/cold is the lake?
- What’s the weirdest thing you have eaten so far?
- Where are your bunkmates from? Who traveled the farthest?
- Will anyone have a birthday at camp?
- Report boring details from home. I will always remember my mom’s boring letters from home, describing the weather, what was growing in the garden, where my cat was sleeping, etc. They were purposely unexciting, so that I knew I wasn’t missing anything!
- Reiterate your pride, encouragement, and excitement that they are experiencing so many wonderful adventures.
What not to say:
- Do not describe all that they are missing at home. Reports of a great day at the beach, seeing a play or a baseball game, a trip to a favorite restaurant can inspire homesickness over interest. Ideally, your child should feel like their world at camp is the only one that matters.
- Keep details on how much you miss your child to a minimum. The tone of your letters should be light and full of love. Remember that homesickness is contagious – if they perceive that you are upset that they are away, they are often more likely to be homesick and miss out on the full camp experience.
- Don’t ever imply that you will pick them up early if they are unhappy. Express your confidence in their independence and abilities.
Camp is a great opportunity to teach your child (and remind ourselves!) of the importance of a hand-written note, so write often and with these guidelines in mind!