This blog was originally posted on http://blog.campeasy.com/ on April 22, 2013.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know that I was nervous about camp when you dropped me off, but now I don’t want to leave. I’ve had the most amazing time here! I love this place! Could you please pay for me to stay a little longer, and pick me up at the end of the summer? That would be awesome!
The thing I love most about camp is that I get to be myself here. At school and in our neighborhood, kids try to be…I don’t know…all the same. Everyone at school wants to wear “cool” clothes and hang out with the “popular” kids. I guess I did too, but I was never part of the “in” crowd. At camp, it’s different. The brand of clothes doesn’t matter here. And people don’t care whether you’re a terrific athlete or not. The staff here keep telling us, “It’s how you treat other people that matters.” I think they’re right. It’s what I’m trying to do.
Speaking of how people treat others, I should mention that I’ve made a ton of friends at camp. My counselor says that we don’t all have to be best friends, we just have to respect each other. Would you be surprised if I told you that I do have best friends here at camp? That’s one of the reasons I want to stay! We hang out all the time and do really fun stuff. It’s way better than school. I do miss my phone, though. And I miss you guys, too, but not as much as I thought I would. I hope you forgive me for only writing once. I’ve just been so busy!
When you bring me home, I’ll be different. I’ll be sad to leave my camp friends, so I might be quiet or grumpy for a while. There will be times when I feel like talking about camp non-stop. I’ll tell you all about the thunder storm during our camp-out, the camp-wide hide-and-seek game and the song we made up about chicken patties. Other times, I won’t want to talk much at all. But don’t worry…most of my camp stories will trickle out before next summer. You have signed me up for next summer, haven’t you?
My cabin leader says that one of things parents love about camp is that their children are so well behaved when they get home. I guess they make their beds and set the table and stuff without being asked. I know I have to do all that at camp…just don’t expect that to last for too long after I get home. I mean…don’t get me wrong: You’ve been great parents and all. But something about camp makes it easier to be helpful and kind to others.
What it is about fresh air, beautiful nature, and cool counselors that makes me feel so good? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, but also sad to leave. Anyway, you guys rock for sending me to camp. That sounds weird, right? Like: “Thanks for being great parents by sending me away for a while.” Some parents wouldn’t understand, but I think you do. If you don’t get it now, you will when you see how much I’ve grown. And I don’t mean taller…I mean better.
Dr. Christopher Thurber, a frequent contributor to camping publications and health blogs, works as a clinical psychologist at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He is the co-author of The Summer Camp Handbook and the host of the homesickness prevention DVD entitled The Secret Ingredients of Summer Camp Success. Learn more on Chris’s website: CampSpirit.com.