Letters from Camp

A camper in a pink Illahee t-shirt sits Indian-style on her top bunk writing a letter home.

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.”

scanned letter from a camper
It’s always nice to get a real letter with a stamp on it!

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!

2 responses to “Letters from Camp

  1. Ditto the comments in her letter! And I love the fact that in this day and age my children love to write and receive letters! Such a gift! One of the many gifts of Camp Illahee that keep giving:)

  2. My 80-year old Mother just mailed me a pack of letters I wrote to her during my summer camp days in the early 80s. The words brought back those fun-filled days and allowed my Illahee girl to see her mother in a whole new light! We laughed and laughed.

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