Dear Mom and Dad,
With summer just around the corner, it’s hard to believe that pretty soon your kids will be off to camp in Maine! Camp is renowned for fostering independence in children, and for many kids a summer at camp will be the first time they spend any extended time without their family. However, just because they may be away from home, that doesn’t mean there’s no communication with home. Let’s take a look at how campers and parents communicate during a summer spent in Maine!
The primary means of communicating at camp is, of course, good old fashioned letter writing. When I was a counselor at a boy’s camp I realized just how special letter writing is, especially to younger campers. The eight-year-old boys in my cabin absolutely loved writing letters – especially at the start of summer when camp was very new to them. They loved sharing every aspect of their days – what activities they did, which friends they made, and of course, what they ate for meals. While they were only required to write a few times a week, many campers would write every single day – they would ask during shower hour, “Can I write a letter once I’ve showered?” – especially at the beginning of the summer.
However, while these campers were incredibly excited about the letter writing process, parents will tell you that this enthusiasm will not necessarily stand the test of time. When I was a camper, I would get letters from my parents imploring me to write – and they were extremely grateful for the blogs and photos that camp would post, which kept them at least somewhat updated on my day to day status. Once, in order to fulfill camp’s letter writing quota, I wrote a letter to the family dogs that went something like “woof, bark, rough, bark, bow-wow.” Many camp parents know the feeling of rushing to the mailbox only to find that there’s no letter from camp that day – or that the letter’s they do receive are somewhat lacking in detail, “Today was fun, I played basketball” – however, oftentimes no news really is good news, and campers are simply too busy creating incredible memories to write a thoughtful letter home. For parents, saving the letters your kids write over the years can be an incredible way to document your children’s growth over their years at summer camp, and to preserve the incredible memories that your children are capturing every day.
Of course, while a camper’s love for writing letters may run hot and cold over the course of their summer(s) at camp, almost all campers look forward to receiving letters from their families as often as possible. In fact, if you have a child who will be attending an early session at Maine Camp, it’s a good idea to send one or two letters ahead of time, so they have some encouraging words from home to welcome them at camp. Many parents at Maine Camp Experience camps will have the opportunity to e-mail letters, as well as the opportunity to write traditional snail mail. E-mails are a great way to keep your kids updated on the day-to-day happenings at home, since they arrive immediately (and are generally printed out and distributed to campers with the mail the following day). However, there really is truly something special about receiving a handwritten letter, and parents who do e-mail are encouraged to send “regular” letters and postcards throughout the summer as well.
When writing home, it’s good for parents to share what’s going on at home to keep campers connected. However, describing the extremely exciting Fourth of July barbecue that your child is missing for the first time, and listing every family member and friend who attended while your child was at camp, might make your child homesick. It’s important to toe the line between describing what’s going on at home, and making your child feel like they are missing out while they are at camp, and it’s important to think about letters through the lens of homesickness.
And how about staff? While I do get to keep my cell phone this summer, and communicate from camp primarily through late-night texts, calls, and Facetimes, I do try to write some letters every summer. Writing a letter is a great way to truly immerse yourself in the camp experience – letter-writing forces you to take a thoughtful, intentional approach to communicating, and taking the time to write a letter really is a caring act. A summer at camp in Maine just wouldn’t be the same without letters to and from home, so whether you’ll be writing to your children or grandchildren, your nieces, your nephews, or your close family friends, make sure you take the time to stay in touch – and send those letters to camp!
With love from Maine,
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.