• Sun, Jun 19 2011

Do You Really Need Help Writing Letters To Your Kids At Camp?

OK. I’m pretty sure this is a joke, but I’m not sure. There’s a blog called “Letters to Camp” and it’s devoted to nothing other than helping parents write letters to their kids who are away at camp. I realize that I write for a living so I might not be the target population here, but really? How hard is it to write a letter to your own kid?

The blog owner says he was inspired to create the blog because he had trouble writing a letter each and every day to his kid at overnight camp. And, see, the kid wanted a letter each day. The guy running the site seems like a very nice dude but I’m still a bit confused. I guess I’ll file this under “markets in everything.”

One page notes that the top question they receive is “So how exactly do I write letters to camp?” They put together a handy reference with such tips as “say hello,” “ask questions,” “share the latest ‘news’,” “tell a joke,” and “encourage your camper.”

Another section of the web site asks parents what their biggest challenge is. The options? “How to write letters to campers in general,” “How to write BETTER letters to campers,” “How to write FUNNY letters to campers,” “SAMPLE letters from parents,” “FILL-IN-THE-BLANK letters from parents,” “How to prevent HOMESICKNESS.”

Fill-in-the-blank letters? Sample letters? Am I missing something? Is this a joke?

Because while I understand that the site aims to help parents out, I think it might perpetuate a problem of parents not knowing when to trust themselves and just write a letter — or not write a letter, for what it’s worth — to their own child. Nobody else can tell you what to do. And a fill-in-the-blank template will really only sure that your letter is boring and lacking that genuine quality. Kids just want a little piece of you. And maybe even not getting a daily letter is a good thing for a kid. Even if they want it. Learning how to stay away without constant contact from the parent is healthy for everyone.

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  • K

    After six summers working as staff at resident camp, two summers paying to be child labor as a counselor-in-training, and two summers as a regular camper, I can attest to how awesome it is for the kids who get mail everyday. Really though, whose life is so interesting to write a page or more about it everyday? Camp letters are a little different than regular letters because their purpose isn’t just to share information about ones life, but rather to touch base with a child and connect said child to home. It’s a different style of writing and one that leaves a person asking, “What the hell am I going to say?” Tips for daily letters to a camper aren’t a completely idiotic idea.

  • Mollie Hemingway

    K — excellent points.

  • mark reynolds

    In an age of electronic devices, handwritten letters are a unique joy to receive in the mail. With text messages and emails who has time to sit down and write a letter? The meaning behind the written word shows a lot more than just type font on a computer screen or cell phone. Whether you are sitting down to write a thank you note or sending a card as a quick hello to a friend, writing a letter shows effort and care. And as we’ve mentioned before, more and more people are getting back into letter-writing.

  • deb

    You are taking this way to literally. First of all ten year old boys do connect to their parents with jokes and mad libs. My son loves that activity and would think it was hysterical to get a mad lib from us in the mail at camp. Maybe you should just get a sense of humor instead of tearing a cute idea apart!

  • Steve Robins

    Thanks Deb, Mark and K for your feedback and I hope you’ll visit the blog at http://www.letterstocamp.net.

    Mollie, The Letters to Camp blog is not meant to prescribe how people should write letters, but rather to give them suggestions. After all, that’s why people read Mommyish, isn’t it? To get suggestions an ideas from other parents.

    And when you dig into the overnight camping experience and what parents can do to support their kids, there’s more to it than you may think. Camps themselves provide a lot of guidance on how best to support your kids – to keep them focused on camp and having a great time.

    On another note, the fill-in the blank template raises a lot of eyebrows but actually, it’s meant to be funny, much like a Mad-Lib.

    I really do hope that the blog helps parents. And for those that don’t need its suggestions, I say congratulations – you’re better prepared than I was when I started writing letters to camp!

    Steve,
    Letters to Camp editor

  • Sassy

    I am looking at how to write to my daughter so that she does not get any more home sick then she is. That is what I am looking for. I still love to write letters.

  • Jessica Anne

    It’s silly to think a parent would need help writing a simple letter to their child at camp but you’d be amazed by day 4 I’m always dry.lol http://www.letterstocamp.net is one of my favorite sites for camp letters. With 4 kids in camp for 3 weeks each summer it’s nice to have people to share ideas on how to stay connect with your kids. Making them feel like you are missing them as much as they are missing you. The kids Loved the madlips. Remember to also add things about their favorite shows or favorite stars. I always send a sheet of the latest game release to my son who is 13. He hates being away from electronics that long and he says he loves getting the updates on different things. I include favorite quotes from their favorite books or tv shows. It really makes them feel as though you are listening to what they are interested in. I love all the links they provide for other things also. I also adore Mommyish. It’s so nice to not feel so alone in the everyday struggle and joys of being a mother.
    Jessica Anne

  • Ann

    I’m sure it seems silly but the camp tells you don’t tell them what you are doing because they will feel left out; don’t tell them you miss them because they will feel homesick; etc. Well that’s what I would write about so now what? The guidance is helpful.

  • RL

    Wow. While true, also harsh. How sad that I was an English major (many years ago) but I am searching for ideas for letters to camp? OMG!!!! Like other mothers, I simply need and desire three weeks of stimulating letters for a thirteen-year-old boy who is leaving for camp and I am looking for ideas. Am I that pathetic? I did not think so until I read your comment. In fact, I actually found some cute suggestions. For instance, I wrote a letter to my son from our dogs! I would have never thought of that! I made a certificate for my child making him a number one son! I hate to admit it, but the ad-libs sound kind of cute. Hey…. I just spit out three letters!!!!! That is what I call progress! At 44-years-old, I have learned to stop judging. I take all of the advice that I can get and I run with it!

  • Wendy

    Very Harsh! Parent with kids that go away from home for the first time ask question to other parents that have more experience with the topic. Kids are home sick, other parents are creative and may have creative ideas for writing letters, good advice on not making kids feel like they are being left out at home, ideas so kids worry less, and so on. I’m not sure I like a blog like this that makes me feel like a bad parent because I want advice. That would mean every parent reading your blog is a bad parent. Good luck on getting other parents to follow any advice you give cause God forbid they can’t think for themselves.

  • tnmill

    Sometimes searching for ideas is just a way to get started. I have lots of ideas to use now and it will all be in my own words. Oh, thanks for the info on letterstocamp.net, it helped me get into the letter writing mindset!

  • CampMom

    Hey thanks for the judgement, mommy blogger. That was really helpful.

  • stupidsciencegeek

    could you be a little more arrogant? Doesn’t quite come through in your writing. (That was called “sarcasm,” for people without degrees in English.)