Letters from camp



I gave a tour this morning to a really nice family. The mom was a social worker and totally got Birch Trail. Her work background allowed her to see all the intentionality behind what we do. It was a very fun tour, and along the way the mom asked her daughter, “would it be ok with you if I worked here?” Of course the daughter instantly said no. She told her mom that she could write her letters, but that was it.

As a parent, I thought this was hilarious, but also totally appropriate. So much of the growth and learning kids get from camp is due to the time they spend away from their parents. Being on their own is exactly what they need to spread their wings and take appropriate risks in a healthy and supportive environment.

One of the constants through the ages of summer camp has been letters. It’s a wonderful thing for a camper to open an envelope and read a handwritten letter from their parent. They know that their parent had to sit down and spend the time to compose a letter. As you can imagine mail call is a very big deal at camp.

One parent of a first time camper wrote a blog about his letters to his daughter. A friend sent me the blog and I just had to share it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


My relationship with my daughter, Stella, involves a significant helping of humor and silliness. When it was time to write that first letter, I figured I would try to keep that part of our relationship flourishing long distance to hopefully keep a smile on her face, especially with so many challenges and changes as a first time camper. I pretty much use humor (sarcasm) to handle most situations: when people are happy, sad, disengaged, etc. I figured I would leave most of the heavy lifting to mom (i.e. the “social emotional stuff”) and my job would be to entertain and have Stella, who we expected would be a bit homesick, react to getting mail with smiles and laughter vs. focusing on missing us. I am also hoping she is inspired to write back something funny (till now we assume she is too busy having fun at camp to tackle that!), which would hopefully focus on her sharing the excitement or funny parts of camp vs. what she might be missing at home. Plus, with only one kid around, I’ve got more time than ever to spend writing letters! I shared my first letter on Facebook and it seemed to garner a bit of acclaim so I figured I would post all of them since a few parents seemed to enjoy them and hopefully it will help inspire them to get creative with their own letters. 


The letters are all hosted here. http://stevegradman7.wixsite.com/camplettersfromdad


Steve Gradman


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