Parenting Summer Writing Life

Write An Old-Fashioned Letter To My Kid At Camp

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Last year, Tech went to overnight camp for a month. When he got home, he ate and slept. And then he complained that I hadn’t written enough.

You guys, I wrote a lot of letters.

Seriously, I wrote one every other day. That’s 14 letters, if you round down.

My son claims some kids received mail every single day.

This year my son is going to overnight camp for the entire summer.

That’s seven weeks, people.

I don’t have enough going on in my life to write him a letter every stinkin’ day. I know what you’re thinking: use your imagination. Believe me, I sent that boy plenty of creative letters, but there’s such a thing as burnout.

Plus, I’m old-school in that I believe there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned letter. One that someone wrote with his or her own hand.

Those types of letters take a little longer to craft.

So I’m appealing to you, my friends from the blogosphere. You’re readers and writers. You’re funny and smart and creative. You have pens and stamps.


Last year I asked you to write to Tech at camp, and you did! I gave him all your letters on Visitor’s Day, and he responded to people in a 3-part post when he returned home. If you’d like, you can check out Part I • Part II • Part III

This year, I’m begging asking you to write my kid a handwritten letter.

Partly because I think it’ll be hilarious for Tech to receive letters from people he doesn’t know.

But also because I’ve noticed how few people send letters anymore. Sure, we have email, mobile phones, and Facebook, but sometimes it’s nice to go to the mailbox and find something with your name on it.

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Here’s what you do to enter:

  • Write a letter of any length, appropriate for a 14-year-old boy.
  • It must be handwritten. Typed letters will be disqualified.
  • It must be legible. Please print neatly. 
  • It must be pretty. No boring white paper. Be creative.
  • Send the letter to me between now & July 31, 2013. If you send it after that, I won’t be able to get it to Tech in time as U.S. Postal Service to camp is wicked slow!

When I receive your letters, I’ll steam open the envelopes to check out the submissions. That’s right, I’ll review each letter for originality, creativity, and visual appeal before forwarding it to the boy at camp.


I’ll feature my favorite letters on my blog, and include blurbs about their authors. 

One of you stands to win best letter writer. That person will win a $25 gift card to somewhere awesome.

Tech isn’t in the dark. He’s agreed to respond to the winner. In addition to sending a handwritten letter to the winner via U.S. mail, I’ll post his illegible, yet handwritten response on my blog.

When writing a kid at camp, there are 3 rules.

Rule #1: Don’t be sad. Never tell your child that you are missing her so much that it hurts. That’s a disaster. And if your kid writes to say he is homesick, don’t get all hyper and tell him you’ll pick him up. Oy. He’s just venting.

Rule #2: Don’t be scary. At overnight camp, kids are completely cut off from the outside world. They really don’t know what’s going on, so it’s not funny to say the family pet died. They don’t need to hear about shootings or death or illness. A zombie apocalypse isn’t funny when you are away from the people you love.

Rule #3: Be funny. Camp is fun – and your letters should be too. Tell stories. Take a moment from your day and embellish it like crazy. When I write to Tech, I try to entertain him. Suggested topics: 1) girls, 2) Minecraft, 3) fencing, 4) Euchre, 5) technology (since he won’t have any), 6) tips on how to live with mean kids, 7) tips regarding how he can keep track of his socks.

If all else fails, tell him about what you used to do when you went to camp.

Unless you set things on fire or got girls pregnant.

In which case,  don’t write about that.


If you’d like to write a handwritten letter to Tech while he’s at summer camp, please indicate your interest in the comments section. I’ll contact you with the necessary information. Don’t wait. You know what happens when you wait. 

tweet me @rasjacobson

76 thoughts on “Write An Old-Fashioned Letter To My Kid At Camp

  1. I would have loved to send Tech a handwritten letter. Unfortunately the Mexican post is mega-slow, so slow that your the US mail to camp looks freakishly fast! Therefore, I could probably enter for next year’s contest? Or move? I’ll see what I can do!

    1. Hahahahaha! He’s at camp for SEVEN WEEKS! Mail in Mexico is slow, but it’s not THAT slow! I’ll bet if you write something now, he’d get it in time! Probably. Maybe. 😉 Of course, how would I get you your prize? Hmmm.

      1. I’m not in it for the prize 😉 and my mom sent me a housewarming card that took 3 months to arrive… It is really, really slow. But maybe it’s quicker to send something out of Mexico… Could be an interesting experiment!

          1. OK, I will think of something. Could you send me the info again though? Something must have gone wrong I’m afraid (maybe because I was trying to make my way back to Mexico, haha)

  2. I will definitely write Tech a letter at camp. I may even come up with a story about when his mom was my camper. Am I allowed to embellish that story? I already know the address. 🙂

    1. Betsy: Letters will have to go through me! Please do not send directly to camp 🙂 I was hoping some camp people might want to get in on this action, but in order to win, there are a few extra steps! 🙂

    1. Sounds PERFECT! I just sent you the info about how I’m handling things. Please print, Maire. Since cursive became a font option, he seriously can’t read anyone’s script. Sad, but true for many kids of this generation.

  3. I would be happy to join in the fun, but with one exception. I am actually a card sender. I send cards to people for birthdays, holidays, for a pick me up, or just for whatever. I love my cards. I have also been known to write a lengthy note inside of the card. So . . . if I can find a card in my stash appropriate for a 14 year old boy, may I send a card instead? I promise to write something inside that is letter worthy, but might not be quite as lengthy as a real letter. What do you think?

    This is a fun idea, Renz! Love it.

  4. Whaaaat? Write *your* kid a letter? My own kid will be there, too, for her first time! Plus, I’m not really creative. Although I suppose I could tell him how I configured the new server at work – maybe he’d revel in that geekness! And I do love contests 🙂

      1. Maybe. I won’t need to write to my kid until August, so I can probably find the time before the end of July. :-p Though I can’t imagine really winning “Best Letter”. I’ve got better odds with Random Number Generator!

  5. Love it, I have already been working on my son to write to me more! I am a big letter writer, and still have the ones my older kids (now 24 & 22) sent me from CSL, way back when. I’ll be busy writing to Shane, but I’m sure Tech will get lots of good ones too. Gotta say, sometimes the kids letters are more entertaining 🙂

  6. Of course I am in! And I’ll send it with a real stamp, not one of those ‘pedestrian’ flag ones. Even though are pretty neat….Printing neatly may be a challenge, I remember no cursive, but I’ll give it a whirl. I’ll write with my Super Hero pen! What a blast

  7. This is like homework for bloggers. I don’t think I’d get a letter to Tech (via Mom) in time from Italy but I’d really like to give it a non-cursive whirl. Send me the details and to-don’t list. ;-

      1. Fiction? I’m not the best at fiction…but I’m game. PS: the Mister is out at a wine tasting so I’ve written up my #sowrong piece. I’m at 838 words. I KNOW! I’m trying to edit…I need more vodka.

        1. Fantastic! I’m soooo excited to write up your intro! Who’s the celebrity you love? You know. That guy you always mention.

          I jest.

          But seriously. I’m so excited. And you were doing those fiction things for a while there. ANd you don’t HAVE to make things up. I was just saying, feel free to mix it up. Like last year, we told the kid we were redecorating his bedroom. You know, painting it pink. Or purple, we weren’t sure. So have funnnnnnn with it!

          But finish the #SoWrong post first. Definitely.

          Priorities, woman. 🙂

          1. Please…feel free to include KARL URBAN in my intro. In fact, you can make it all about him. I won’t mind.
            I’m at 801 words. I’ll edit again and source some images. Expect it tomorrow?

  8. This sounds like a fun, quirky idea…just like mom! I can only promise to try to participate right now as I’ve got a few irons in my own fire that have been keeping me more busy than usual.

  9. Renee, I loved when you did this last year! I remember writing in my tips to Tech. I am going to pass this year since I gave up all my camp insights (i.e. don’t roll in poison ivy just to fit in). I hope Tech has a great summer at camp. He is so lucky to have such a loving, cool mom like yourself. Can’t wait to read some of the letters. I, too, cherish handwritten letters. I even have special boxes of saved handwritten letters.

    1. I loved your response from last year! He enjoyed getting that thick bundle of letter, too. But this seemed even MORE fun. I can forward letters in dribs and drabs and offer something to participants, too! Hope you are well!

      1. Oh, that makes me happy! I will for sure play along in any way I can. I am doing well…laying a bit low on my blog and keeping up on blogging peeps. I am struggling w/ working on my book and squeezing in my blog – plus everything else. I know you get it. ????

        1. Good for you! After 7 drafts, I decided to stop futzing with my book. I’m taking a break from that project, and it feels good. I had lost my balance, and I really need this time to just recharge. This morning, I got the idea for something new: a NEW project! I’m going to let it percolate for a while before I do anything with it. I definitely learned a lot about what to do and what NOT to do the next time. Good look with your WIP.

  10. It seems like real fun!! Great idea Renee!! I am sure when your son will return from his camp, he is going to have so many letters to read! 🙂

    1. Actually, Arindam, I’m going to forward the letters to him WHILE he’s at camp! They are going to supplement the letters he’ll get from his father and me! And I’m so appreciative! I’m just getting having them sent here so: 1) no one sends him anything naughty while he’s at camp; 2) no one sends food to the camp; 3) because it will be fun for him to pick a favorite letter from a stranger; 4) because I wanted to integrate people’s letters into my blog and if I relied on him to bring everything home, I’d be in trouble. He’ll be receiving people’s letters throughout the whole summer. We’ll discuss the winner when he gets home.

  11. I’m in – I’ve put my thinking cap on (geez, this thing is tight) and I’ll try to come up with something he’ll enjoy. Wow, I haven’t been a 14-yr-old boy in so long I don’t know if I remember what they like. Wait…

  12. Glad you’ve got plenty of volunteers, because handwritten and legible cannot both be used with the same thought where I’m concerned. Hope you get lots of entries, though.

  13. If he wouldn’t mind a letter from a 29 year old Aussie girl who has no idea what you Americans do on Summer Camp I will send him a letter! I love handwritten letters and have even got myself a Canadian pen pal this year 🙂

    1. You call this creative? I call it an act of desperation. Seriously. I hope people really come through for me. I think Tech will have a blast getting letters from complete strangers! It’ll be a hoot! Thanks for participating! Feel free to get the girls involved! Get them to color or use their stickers! Have them put on lipstick and kiss the paper so it’s all smooched up. Anything that’ll embarrass the kid. I just sent you the info!

  14. I’ll give it a whirl. But not the kind that puts a kid’s head in the toilet. Oh, wait, that’s a swirly.
    Whirl is all good.

    1. Duffy! I just sent you the info! Feel free to write to Tech! You can even get your kids involved. Have them scribble draw all over the letter you write. You know, for decoration! Feel free to make this a family affair! 😉

  15. Every time I turn around Renee, you always seem to find a way to crack me up! I was without internet for most of the week, so that is why I am late to the writing party. Sorry about that. First of all, why in the world are you sending him away for seven weeks? Seven weeks Renee? That’s 49 stinkin’ letters Mom. You did yourself in. lol. Besides seven weeks of mosquito bites and poison ivy. lol. See, I would have separation anxiety if I sent my son away for that length of time. My oldest went away for two weeks when he was nineteen and he got really homesick. Yeah, I know. What’s up with that? He said he missed us. I guess we weren’t normal. lol. Anyway, I hope your son has a great time. All I have to say is it’s gonna be awfully quiet around your house this summer. 🙂

    1. Hi Karen! Tech started going to this camp when he was 1-year old. Hubby and I brought him there as part of a family camp experience which we attended with a lot of other families. As he got older, we told him that if he was really good, one day if he was really lucky, he might maybe be allowed to go to camp without us. He was shocked. “Is that even allowed?” he asked.

      Tech hopped on the camp bus for the first time when he was 8-years old, but he was never really alone. He went with a slew of other kids he’d met from all those summers prior. Now he considers them his summer siblings, and he loves summer camp so much, he would kill me if I told him he couldn’t go. There are all kinds of studies that show that kids who go to overnight camp have an easier time going away to college, etc… when they get older. I believe it. They’ve already faced the great unknown and survived. They’ve dealt with homesickness and fear and mean kids and pushed through to the other side. So, as you can see, I’m a huge advocate for the overnight camp experience.

      As far as quiet goes? Hubby and I use the time to reconnect with each other, which is actually very nice. But will I miss his smiling face? You betcha. 😉

      But who has time to be lonely when I’ll be writing letters every minute! LOL!

  16. OMG, OMG, how did I not see this until now!?? So, when you say “appropriate for a 14 year old boy” Do you mean a 14 year old East Coast Jewish boy or a 14 year old donofalltrades? Oh, I so want to write him about the time I lost my virginity at 14! It’s a really funny story! It is!

    1. Dude! I was WONDERING where the heck you were! Sheesh. I am the censor, so in order for your letter to get to my kid, it has to go through me — but there’s nothing to say you couldn’t write a wildly inappropriate letter and still have me share it with the blogging world! If you want to win, the kid has to love it best of all. Let’s just not give him *too* many ideas, okay? He’s alone in the woods without parental guidance for 7 weeks. Say what you need to say. Shall I send you details?

    1. Hi K: Assuming I actually GET letters, yes! I’m going to put them up on my blog for everyone to enjoy. (So far I’ve received one.) I imagine they’ll be really fun! Did you want in? Shall I send you information about how to write Tech? Let me know if you are interested in participating!

      1. Write now, I’m kept pretty busy with letters to elderly (100+) relatives. From a different century – and letters are something you can hold in your hand -phone calls fade – and they wonder if you really called and what was said.(It was so much easier when they had access to email – which they loved using)
        Letters are loved by everyone. It’s a great idea

  17. Totally in for doing it … although I secretly wish we were still in Singapore because THAT would have been cool … or a letter from India. Alas, the best I can do is a postmark from Orlando. Send me the details darlin’ —

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