Writing a letter, itself, seems old-fashioned when a tweet or a text is the longest string of words most of us put together on a regular basis. Our techie world leaves us out of practice. Composing a letter to your child at camp can be extra-tricky, especially if it’s the first time they’re away at overnight camp.
Here are 10 tips we distilled from camp directors and veteran camp parents to help you. (Some may even apply to crafting a good note for your valentine.)
- Use nice paper, fun stationery or a pen with colorful ink.
- Start by asking about them. Questions about activities (especially the ones you know they were looking forward to participating in) are a good place to start.
- Don’t include too much about yourself, what you’re doing or what they might be missing at home. While it’s challenging to miss them, it also allows them to develop independence and make their own connections. A sentence about the weather or comments about Red Sox play is enough of an update.
- Make it fun. Knock-knock jokes, riddles, puzzles or funny pictures work well.
- Sign off with love. That’s enough to communicate that you love and miss them. The arrival of the letter itself says that too.
- Send the first one as soon as they leave. Camp mail can be slower than snails.
- Put a pre-addressed stamped postcard (with your address on it) in the envelope. That way you’re more likely to get a note back.
- Keep it short. Why? None of us have long attention spans. Also, not all of your child’s friends will get a letter so it is better if they can read theirs and move on quickly.
- Resist the urge to sneak stuff (like candy or gum) into the envelope. Camps have rules for a reason. Your child is not lacking for treats, either.
- Wait a few days before sending the next one. They haven’t forgotten you. Leave time for them to become immersed in camp.
Most of these tips are common sense. The underlying theme is that the letter should be about your child and where they are.
If you’re planning to use some of them for your valentine instead, I recommend leaving out the knock-knock jokes unless your sweetheart is partial to them.
More information about Jewish overnight camp and how to afford it can be found here.