Every day after lunch, a small but significant ritual occurs at camp: Mail is distributed! On any given day, a few campers will receive four letters, some will receive one or two, and many won’t be getting one. All of those scenarios are typical and just fine. But there is something about a handwritten letter in the mail that is special, and ones that arrive at camp are extra special. Most letters are read and re-read a few times by the campers and ultimately saved to revisit on a rainy day.
Depending on your camper’s age, years at camp, and general feelings about being away from home, there are general dos and don’ts for writing to your camper. So what makes a great letter from home?
A reminder of how proud you are of them. This is a good first letter, no matter if it is their first time away, or if they are seasoned returners. Let them know how great it is to be off at camp, learning new things, and meeting new friends, and how happy you are for them. All campers like to be reminded that they are strong, brave, and that you believe in them!
A short but sweet update on goings-on in the family, including news about work, the pet, what grandma is doing, etc. Keep them informed, but also let them know that they are not missing out on anything great at home. Don’t share bad news. If something bad does happen, call the office, and we’ll figure out together when to tell them.
Ask a question that doesn’t necessarily demand an answer, but rather gets them to think about it. For example, “what was the best thing you did today?,” or “tell me about the boys in your cabin.” Avoid filling your whole letter with questions… who are your new friends? What is your favorite activity? How’s the food? How’s the water? None of them can be answered in real time, and it isn’t as engaging for them to read.
Include a picture, whether from the newspaper, one picture of the family or pet, or the garden that is finally producing some tomatoes. Something that will make them feel connected, but not missing out.
Avoid using guilt to get a letter in return. Campers’ days are busy, and when rest hour comes, many campers really need the down time. Generally speaking, no news is good news. And for younger campers,writing a letter is a wearisome task! We promise you will get at least one postcard from your child. Be sure to include addressed and stamped envelopes when packing, so there are no extra steps between writing and mailing that letter!
Share some silly jokes, make a puzzle, or write in a secret code! Your camper will have to spend some time with the letter and can share it with cabinmates.
Touch on some bigger goals that you talked about before camp. It might be about trying new things, supporting new friends, relaxing and having fun, encouraging others, or giving people second chances. These are great reminders that in addition to canoeing, biking, and swimming, camp offers many “big” and growth-filled opportunities.
Children do not need to receive letters every day, so please do not put that pressure upon yourself. Two or three good, genuine, positive letters are better than a rushed letter every day. Remember: If you would like your camper to have a letter on the first full day of camp, you will need to mail it a few days before camp begins (or bring it on opening day).
All mail to campers should be addressed like this:
Camper Name & Camper Cabin [you will receive the cabin name on Opening Day]
1 Wolfe Lake Drive
Hendersonville, NC 28739