You know how everything kids do “these days” is nothing like what “we used to do”? It’s true in a million ways, except one: letters from camp!
My mom was going through old family papers last week and hit the jackpot with letters that her mother (my grandmother Louise) wrote home from camp when she was 10 years old. The postmark on the (2-cent stamped) envelope is June, 1931. And let me tell you, that letter could have been written today! It gave my kids and me a smile to read it.
How are you and why haven’t you written me? I have some good news to tell you – I swam from the diving board to the float. It was a lot of fun too. I will be at Union Station Monday at 5:00. Will you send me a little money please? And let it get here before Monday or early Monday morning if you can. Because I am going to leave camp at 11:00 Monday morning.
Love and kisses,
See what I mean? I miss you. Write me. Please send money.
Some things don’t change – the first time away from home is a milestone that has (apparently) been the same for 80 years. Your little ones are little. They are in your house, in their own beds. It never occurs to you that they’ll ever be anywhere but under your close protection. But then, maybe, they try to stay overnight with grandparents or a cousin or a first-grade friend. Then, the next big step: sleep-away camp. All three of my kids have done it (with mixed, but mostly good, results). And we’ve gotten the handwritten letters & postcards, a few emails and (just one) very lonely-sounding call.
I always tell my kiddos that I’m a phone call away. Home is always here, in between adventures. I want home to be a launching pad and a hideaway; a springboard and a safe shelter; a place to find encouragement, but also rest…the old cliche, I want home to give roots, but also wings.
Last summer, after she’d been away at camp for a week and I assumed things were just peachy, I received this in my mailbox from my youngest on the day we left to pick her up:
Dear mom & dad: I miss you guys. I really want to come home. This year I’m just not feeling it. I miss my bed, shower, food and family. Love, C.
I drove a little faster on the way to get her that night.
But I kept her letter, just like my great-grandparents kept theirs in 1931. Because some milestones don’t change…when you’re away from home, you miss it – you miss the food, you miss mom, you miss dad. You miss familiarity, comfort and routine.
And whether it’s 1931 or 2016, you usually need a little money, too.
I’d love to see any funny or touching camp letters you’ve sent or received! Comment here, or email us, or find me on Twitter @louisesecker.