A highlight of the camp day is when the CIT’s finish sorting the mail and stuffing it into the boxes by the dining hall. Campers gather around looking for their letters and cards and then sit along the wall reading. If someone’s box is empty one day, that’s okay. Her friend will share her letter. There’s something about the look of handwriting, whether it’s a little brother’s scrawl or mom’s neat curls that lends voice to the words.
For many girls, camp time is the time that they develop that craft. Like us, most of them communicate in fragments…a quick text…an Instagram message, a Snapchat photo. The time that we actually sit down to write is often reserved for times that we are “unplugged” and where else does that happen besides camp?
Dr. Chris Thurber, a leader in youth development in the camp and independent school world, led a recent workshop on Social Media (more on that for another time). What impressed me was his reference to the art of the narrative. Dr. Thurber said “When we write, we reflect. When we reflect, we understand our experiences better.”
This hit home to me. After all, I am someone with a collection of used notepads in my office closet filled with the To Do lists and phone notes and outlines. If we are working out a camp policy or handbook, it always begins with a pen and paper. So during rest hour, when a camper has a little time on her hands to be still and quiet, she will pick up pen and paper to begin her narrative of camp whether it be about feeling a little homesick or meeting a new friend or trying a new activity or asking about the family dog. This is one of the treasures of camp- keeping the art of letter writing alive and well!