Family Love Parenting

The Gift of Magic To My Son Away at Summer Camp

It’s Tech’s birthday. He’s 14 years old today.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know, he’s not home.

He’s at summer camp.

I wasn’t planning to write today, but my sister-in-law happened to be at camp earlier this week when she unexpectedly ran into our son. Knowing she had only a few minutes to chat, she asked him to tell her what he wanted for his birthday. He shrugged and he said something like “I don’t want anything. The two things I want my parents are already getting me.”

This was my response:


Because I had no idea.

Also, I had no plan to send anything to Tech for his birthday.

I knew from his previous summers at camp that Marilyn, the chef, would make him a chocolate cake to share with the other kids in his bunk.

I figured that was enough yummy frosted birthday goodness.

I asked my sister-in-law if she knew what Tech was talking about.


I couldn’t help it. I called the camp and asked the assistant director to see if she could squeeze some information out of our kid.

A few hours later, I received a text message.

Rhonda note

Poor thing. To her ears, it must have sounded like my kid was speaking in tongues. I can imagine Tech waving his long arms and yammering about “life points” and “damage” and “mana”.

The boy who graduated from LEGO to Minecraft has a new addiction: Magic: The Gathering.

From what I understand, Magic is a card game that involves battles between wizards (“planeswalkers”) who use spells, items and creatures depicted on the cards to defeat their opponents.

Or something.

Apparently, Magic appeals to math lovers. And it involves more complex rules than most other card games.

Why am I not surprised?

Of course my kid would love a game with tons of rules.

My kid loves rules.

And he loves math.


I can’t believe the game hasn’t been featured on The Big Bang Theory yet.

It’s that nerdy.

All I know is when we walked into Millennium Games and Cyberstorm Lounge last night (the equivalent of the comic store where Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj hang out), Hubby and I were the only people without pierced septae.

{septae? that looks weird. but you know what i mean, right?} 

Anyway, we were painfully uncool.

{or possibly we were the coolest people in the room}

Because we were 100% illiterate when it came to Magic.

The others?

Knew. Everything.

Wall of Magic Cards in Henrietta, New York
Wall of Magic Cards in Henrietta, New York

Luckily, the kind (and uber patient) people at Millennium Games were more than happy to school us.

Thanks to them, I now know:

  • Magic was introduced in 1994
  • Some playing cards sell for as much as $3,100
  • This year’s Magic tournament held in Las Vegas hosted over 4,500 players with $40,000 going to the top player
  • About 12 million geeks people play Magic worldwide


Our package is en route to our son. He’ll get it later today.

Tech rarely asks for anything.

{which is probably why I jump when I hear there’s something he wants}

More than anything, I hope my son’s friends make him feel special today. Maybe the staff will sing to him over the PA system and make him skip around the room.


Hopefully, he’ll have chocolate cake with his bunkmates.

And hopefully, our kid will kick butt with his lightly played Chandra the Firebrand card.

{whatever that is}

What unusual gift requests have you made/received?

tweet me @rasjacobson

This post was not sponsored; however, I imagine I’m going to be spending a lot of money at Millennium Games over the next few years, so if they’d like to offer me a discount, I wouldn’t complain.

45 thoughts on “The Gift of Magic To My Son Away at Summer Camp

  1. Oh, no. Not Magic!

    Every gift-giving holiday I find myself feeling helpless in Games Workshop, explaining that I need a MtG gift for my son, to which they always counter with the question about which series and what-not. I know I should know this and have committed it to memory, refusing to write it down because that would be tantamount to admitting that I am a very bad mother, but it stays in my brain for exactly as long as your average baseball statistic, so eventually I end up saying, “I don’t know. He’s about your height. Any suggestions?”

    Happy birthday, ,Tech Support! I’m behind on camp stories. Will have to fix that.

    1. You lost me at MtG, Hippie! Do I have to Google that now? Boys really are from Mars. So glad to know that I’m not the only clueless mom out there. Tech picked up this Magic addiction while at camp, and he’s been gone for the last 5 weeks, so I really have no idea what he’s talking about! Hopefully, Hubby and I did okay. Thanks for commiserating! 🙂

  2. I never got or asked for anything unusual, unless you count the box of Trojans my mother demanded I take with me on spring break as a high school junior a “gift”. I almost always got what I wanted, but not exactly what I wanted. So when I wanted a Mongoose bmx bike, I got a Team Murray racing bike instead. It’s still a bike, sure, but not what I wanted exactly. Were you my mother, Tech would probably getting a pack of Uno cards in the mail instead of this Magic stuff.

      1. She may have been prescient as I did rendezvous with my first ever tattoed woman right there in Ft. Walton Beach! It was a tramp stamp before anyone called them tramp stamps. I was seriously worried that I was going to get AIDS (AIDS was big back then) but not worried enough to just roll over and go to sleep I guess…Teach your boys better, ladies! Lol.

  3. Oh my god, I would have died. DIED! It’s like with Christmas, since my kids are all about waiting to tell Santa what they want. And then I have to work some Jedi mind tricks to get them to let me know what they told Santa! It’s a lot of fun, as you can imagine. :-/ Happy Birthday to your boy!! Or should I say, your young man. (Oh god, now I feel like a grandma). Hope he has a fabulous campy celebration with chocolately goodness!!!

    1. It’s the FIRST time I EVER felt any kind of pressure to perform. I think we may have nailed it. Unless we screwed up. We also bought Tech a few equally geeky gifts at Millennium Games including individual card covers and a deck cover. (Right now, he’s storing his cards in a case that he made out of Duck Tape. Apparently, that’s a bad idea. Because, you know, we want to keep the cards in “mint condition” so you can sell them later. Or something. *shrugs*

    1. I read a little bit about this game, and it actually sounds pretty solid from an educational standpoint. I mean, he isn’t plugged into a game system and he’s interacting with other humans while he’s playing. Also, he’s using his imagination and having to think creatively and critically. Not too bad for a card game, right?

  4. I was Student Club Coordinator when in University, at which time a group of students approached me about creating a Magic: The Gathering Club. I helped them to get it off the ground, and it ended up being one of the best clubs on campus for getting students involved because it got the loners and students normally on the outside into a club where they were able to socialize and really feel involved. I love card games like these because instead of staring at a screen, kids are actually meeting together and socializing face-to-face (minus the interloping cards!).

    1. Hi Trit! I’m so glad you chimed in. I totally get it. This game is a great way for people to be social — and you’re so right. While playing, people are engaged and using their minds creatively and critically. I’m not surprised my son gravitated to this kind of thing; it’s right up his alley. I’m just surprised I’d never heard of it before since Magic has been around for over 20 years. How cool that you were involved with setting up such a successful club and your college. I have to say, it sounds like many of the boys in my son’s village are LOVING Magic. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to continue to play once camp ends.

  5. It’s pretty easy these days for me thank God, the girls just usually want like the treat of a manicure (which unlike other girls is not a regular thing for them) and the boy just usually wants money to spend at college… or maybe a cool shirt or pants. But I remember the days when they were little when it was like “I want a pony” and I’m all like “No”.

  6. no real unusual gift requests here.. but love card games. I learned, or relearned, how to play Gin Rummy this summer – my daughter and I played it and had a blast, she has learned how to play, ruthlessly. Son was watching and picked up on it quickly – cards are fun and it gets them engaged socially.

  7. With so many kids getting into trouble and choosing the wrong path, I think it’s awesome that Tech is so into these “nerdy” games! I’ve seen too many kids just hanging in the streets up to no good. Feliz Cumpleanos to Tech!! 🙂

  8. Glad you found Tech’s present in time. But why did he think you were already planning to bring it? Did you (or Hubby) promise him during the break and forget? Or is he just totally confident in your Tech-to-Mom psychic abilities? I’m sure it’s that one. 🙂

    1. David, I was JUST thinking about that. Seriously. I should have linked back and reflected on THAT. But yes, it’s been a year. He’s about to start high school. Time marches on. (There, now I sound like an old person.)

  9. My older boys were the right age for the Pokemon phenom. I became quite the expert at learning the codes on the packs of cards so I could pillage the stock at ToysRUs so u could get the good cards. After Katrina I gave them all to Goodwill. Still kicking myself for that one.

    1. A guy at Millennium Games explained he’d heard the woes from plenty of people whose mothers sold their playing cards at garage sales. And he’d also heard stuff like this: “Dude! Look what some crazy lady was selling for $10 at her garage sale!”

      I guess you were *that* lady. Live and learn, right?

  10. My first thought was he wanted Pokemon cards, that’s how far out of the loop I am. Happy birthday to your child/man, and may all of his future wishes be so easy to grant!

    When is he coming home and when does school start? Everybody is in back-to-school mode around here. My youngest heads off to college to get settled in her rental house on Monday. She delighted my mother’s heart by just texting me to request a Scrabble rematch tonight (after I beat her by a nose earlier in the week.) My response? “Bring it.”

    1. Yeah, Pokemon is so 2008. You’re so 2000 and late. Actually, I think it was much earlier than that, but I went for the rhyme. Tech comes home in about a week, and school starts the first week in September. But he has Freshman Orientation the last week in August. Right before he gets his braces.


      Stay tuned for that.

      I’m sure a post will follow.

  11. Happy birthday Tech! I bet he had to skip around the room while they sang Happy Birthday. And I love that he is into a new (to him) card game. Enjoy your last few days of quiet because the I know you will enjoy the many days he’s home until next summer when he’s gone over seven weeks – in Tusc!!

    1. Boots: I found out it was a village day, so he was out of camp all day. We actually got to speak to him tonight for his birthday phone call. He sounds great. He was psyched that it was not a rush-rush day, but a kind of “chill” day. They went to someone’s house for a BBQ: his kind of day. So I guess he skipped the skipping. Secretly, this mom hopes he’ll still get the chocolate cake. I can’t believe he’ll be in Tusc next year. Weren’t we just there? Oh, wait. That was 1982. Time flies. It does.

  12. Sam’s birthday is a summer one too so I know I’ll be in this position one day. Loved reading how you handled it. I’m sure he had a great day! And I’m sure he knows how much you guys love him.

    My kids are all about pillow pets these days. It’s a little kid rage.

  13. Happy Birthday to Tech! My brothers were all in to Magic and Warhammer Quest. They are all in their 20’s now and have moved on to nerdy boardgames such as Dominion and Settlers of Catan. So I am all over Magic the Gathering! I should have written it in my letter… Ha

  14. Happy birthday to Tech, and card games are always good! Never heard of Magic before (well at least not while conscious) but it sounds like fun actually. I might have to inform myself about it. 🙂

  15. I’m super impressed with your investigative abilities – good work! It sounds like a fascinating game, and I hope he gets a lot of enjoyment from it, and you from that.

    1. It wasn’t easy and also, I um…got it wrong. I saw him on Saturday when I was involved with a small program with some of the oldest campers. Well, let’s just say, he told me that he wasn’t really expecting anything. He just said something to his aunt so that she believed he was getting ‘something’ for his birthday at camp. He said he knew that we would celebrate when he came home.

      Can you believe? All that scrambling around? For what? He was still appreciative though. He just said we didn’t have to get him anything. What a mensch, right?

      Also, I got the best hugs during Havdallah. Le sigh. Can’t wait until he comes home on Thursday!

  16. Renee, I was sure the two things you were already giving him were “love” and “camp.” That would have been too mature for a 14-year-old though. Glad it was Magic cards.

  17. Well, THIS brought back memories! My son (now in medical school) went through a serious Magic phase… and of course I too learned everything I could. AND I’m going to talk to him about checking his cards to see if any of them are valuable….because I think that may give him another idea of how to use those cards now –he has MANY!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop