School is out and summer camp is in for many children, which means families will soon find themselves brushing up on the art of letter writing.
Because a major attraction of sleepaway camp is the opportunity to power down from electronics and screen time, the U.S. Mail will be the main method many campers use to stay in touch with their loved ones back home.
“It’s a skill set that is somewhat lost, but I love that our campers sit down and get out their stationery to write home a thoughtfully crafted letter,” said Jed Dorfman, director of Camp Walt Whitman in Piermont, NH.
The camp, like many others across the nation, treats letter writing as a learning experience, even encouraging campers to come prepared with their own postage.
Counselors at Camp Walt Whitman, which serves about 425 children ages 7-16, help campers address envelopes and offer suggestions of what to include in their letters to make them informative.
“A handwritten letter is so special and powerful and has more of an impact on campers feeling connected to home than an email or text,” said Dorfman.
To help parents, he offers these tips:
• Write a letter or two before your child gets to camp, so that it’s waiting for them on their bed upon their arrival. “It’s like sending a big hug on their first day,” Dorfman said.
• Make a goal of writing your child a letter once a week and encourage friends and family to do the same.
• Be mindful that the reason for writing letters is to enhance the camper’s experience at camp, not to make them miss you or miss home. For instance, don’t send a postcard from a place they would want to go but can’t because they’re away at camp, or tell them how hard or sad it is without them at home.
• Make letters as fun and interactive as possible by including a riddle or joke. Ask them questions so they have things to write back to you. For example, what are their favorite activities, camp foods or songs?
Said Dorfman: “You’ll love seeing your child’s handwriting when you open your mailbox and they’ll look forward to opening a letter from home amongst their friends.”