Letters to Camp

My brother sent me the addresses of my nieces. The eldest is studying equine science at Cornell and the youngest is going to sleep away camp in Maine. And the best part? I can write to them! Yes, old-fashioned letters! I look for fun stationery and pretty stamps. These days camps don’t allow food care packages; too many worries about allergies, mice in cabins, and wanting to encourage healthy eating. I can send little games, cards, and such.

I still have a few postcards the kids wrote when they were at camp. Nothing was ever too informative—“Camp is good” sort of letters, but I loved receiving them.  Many camps now allow faxes and email. Where’s the fun in that?  Perhaps denying instant parental communication allows a kid to settle in and adjust. Parents don’t need to hear every complaint.  (They get enough of that at home!)

I can bemoan the lack of letter writing; wax nostalgic about how I melted sealing wax as a kid to tamper-proof my letters.  But I’ve succumbed to email like everyone else. I tried writing to my daughter in college now and then but had to email her to tell her to go to the post office.

Still, it’s hard to resist buying boxes of stationery, even if they’re piled up on my desk. I write the occasional card (I’m a stickler for hand-written thank you notes), but most sit untouched.

How about you? Do you write personal letters?  Do you save them?

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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35 Responses to Letters to Camp

  1. I miss letters too and I haven’t written one in many years. Lately, I’ve been thinking I would like to write one a month but I don’t have anyone’s mailing address! I think I would be tickled pink to recieve a letter in the mail. It is a long lost art, isn’t it?

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  2. OmaOrBubby says:

    Love this topic and post. When I realized that some parents and kids were emailing and/or faxing each other to and from camp. I thought “hey that’s cheating!” – I just think the one major excitement in a sleep-away camp experience is waiting for that letter to arrive, ripping it open…and reading it.

    I still write (and receive) thank-you cards a lot. I don’t think thank-you cards are out of style – are they? Letters, though are definitely a dying breed. What about post-cards? Remember those? Friends these days who travel just send email as if they were still around the corner. No fun anymore.

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    • We have some friends that always send postcards– so quaint and sweet. So I try to send one to them now and then. Otherwise– it’s email, email, email. I’ve saved a few letters my grandparents wrote to me when I was in college. I’ll try to write to my own grands, but they’ll be expecting emails and will answer that way I’m sure.

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  3. Judy says:

    I think this lost art is sad too. I save sweet cards from my kids but that is about it now. I do write “real” thank you notes. I so appreciate when I get thank you cards and invites in the mail.

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  4. As you know, i am a big fan of the written letter and the hand-made care package. The post office, however, has become my arch enemy. They seem to go out of their way to try in every way shape and form to thwart my letter-writing-package-sending passions. The parking lot is too small so you have to line up in traffic to wait your turn to enter and endure the wrath and possible side-swiping of road-raged travelers trying to swerve around you. You could park in the Safeway parking lot – a block and a 1/2 a way which can be tough if you are weilding unweildly packages through ice, snow and rain. Not to mention, if you chose that route, you then have to endure the glares of Safeway workers and partrons as you take up a parking space without patronizing the store. Once inside the post office, the line is guaranteed to be 8 deep at each window and invariably the eight in your line are trying to pay with spanish dabloons or are trying to ship their grandmother to El Slavador (both of which causes great confusion with the PO worker). Finally, the price of sending a package is insane. Nevertheless, i put those experiences in the far recesses of my mind because I’m at the Post Office for an important mission: Care-packages to loved-ones. Thus, I gladly bake up a storm; horde lots of little things from Target and World Market and lovingly package it all before trudging back to the post office. I cross my fingers and pray that all will arrive safely and miraculously, it usually does!

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  5. I was bad, smuggling in candy and such. But my kids hated camp, and I loved my camping days. Maybe I over compensated?

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  6. Meryl Baer says:

    I was never very good about writing letters. I send cards and write a few sentences inside. This year my grandson is going to sleep away camp, and I will write him, but probably inside a card!

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  7. Patti Winker says:

    Oh, I so remember those letters from my daughter at camp. Fun! And, yes, I do appreciate a nicely written letter, postcard, note, card, or what-have-you. I miss that. I, too, have succumbed to email or worse – texting.

    My cousin made us all copies of letters exchanged between our parents, aunts, and uncles with each other and their parents, back when they were first working and married and having families. They are so precious. I hate to think some day my grandchildren will have no written word left to cherish. When I go through my keepsakes, I still tear up at the sight of the handwriting I remember.

    Enjoy this wonderful opportunity to communicate with your nieces and create a lasting keepsake (hopefully!) in the process. 😀

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  8. I have always loved writing, and writing letters was the closest thing I ever had to anyone reading what I wrote. Several years ago I met the mother of a friend who was in her 90’s. She lived in South Carolina so I didn’t see her often. Last weekend we were in SC for a Bar Mitzvah and we reunited. She spoke about the letter I wrote to her those six or seven years ago. It really made an impression.

    During the Gulf War I wrote to a serviceman, a nephew of a friend, and had a rewarding experience writing and receiving letters from him.

    The only reason to look forward to receiving the mail is the hope of finding a letter; what else is in the mail: bills and catalogues.

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  9. Drjcwash says:

    I miss letters. My son went away for 6 weeks. So i did get two letters. I don’t think sons think it is important to send a letter. I have over the years received notes from former patients. My best one was from a relative who informed me of the passing of my patient and she enclosed a copy of the Obituary. The words I loved most were ” My mother always loved getting your messages.” That made my day.

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  10. I remember the days when campers were not allowed in the mess hall without a letter to their parents.

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  11. I admit that I have joined the e-mail and texting crowd to keep up with my girlfriends. But I try to always send out hand written thank you notes. I do like to write letters, and finding fun stationery is something I enjoy very much. My mother kept a file of letters that each of us kids would send her. It didn’t include every single letter I wrote, but several. When Mom died, I grabbed my folder and had fun reading back the words I had written to her to long ago.

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    • I have some that I wrote to my parents when we lived in London, 4 1/2 years early in our marriage and letters my mother wrote when she and my father were in the Peace Corps. Email just not the same as seeing the handwriting.

      On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 1:35 PM, cyclingrandma

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  12. I have the letters my father wrote to my mother during World War 2, when they met. He died young, but reading them gives me a real sense of who he was, even seventy years on.

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  13. tchistorygal says:

    There’s nothing like a hand-written card! 🙂

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  14. Ditto, ditto, ditto. Love writing letters to my nieces and nephews at camp, and the love getting them! Ditto on pretty much every word you wrote. Great minds… 😉

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  15. I cannot resist buying cards from artists. I love to share them and even frame some of them. They are not actually letters….but notes sent to folks to let them know I’m thinking of them.
    I miss both of my grandmothers…..our letters back and forth were so special ♥ Letters = history

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  16. Jean says:

    I enjoy giving cards for special occasions. Unfortunately my handwriting has deteroriated alot in the past few decades that family and friends can’t quite read a full sentence well. Yup.

    Keep in mind, I used to handwrite my English lit. essays at university (early 1980’s) and professors used to complain to me..

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  17. Colline says:

    I have saved them in the past. However, when we moved countries it was one of the boxes I had to throw away. I did enjoy reading through them. Now I see that I have started a collection here in my new place (though many of them can now be found in an email folder!)

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