Children · home · On Writing

Letter Home

Camper to parents:

Making friends, having good time

Send snacks. Miss the dog.

Written under duress, this is the shortest letter that the little girl was permitted to send. The letter home reward was a popsicle — she hoped that she got a red one, which you could get only if you were the first kid to the freezer.

What she didn’t say and will not until many years later in the middle of a long, loud argument with her parents when the time feels right to let them know how awful they really are:

  • It took a couple of weeks for anyone to even say hello to me. All the other kids came with their sisters and best friends and classmates, cousins, all different people they know, so I was the odd girl out, never picked for a partner, never the first kid on any team. I had to force my way on to the bench at meals so I could sit with my group. After Grace and her best friend Jilly had their big fight, each one wanted to be my friend, so I started getting invited to do stuff and to share candy. And then, it was like everyone changed and I had friends, real friends to hang around with, not just the kids who want stuff from you.
  • They make us get up at the crack of dawn. Then there is chores and breakfast, and sports (I like archery a lot — and I’m even good at it) and more sports and games and then lunch and then crafts and then more games and sometimes hiking and always swimming in the lake (it’s so so so cold and there’s stuff in there, like fish and frogs and gross stuff that tickles your feet) and then there is dinner and catching fireflies and playing games and then campfires with singing dumb but kind of fun songs and then it’s clean-up and lights out after we’re supposed to read (I’m the only one who really likes to read). Then Bron tells stories about ghosts and spiders that eat brains and what happens if you run out of gas. And then we fall asleep — no one cries any more because they’re homesick — not even me. And then the next day comes and it happens all over again.
  • The food is really, really simple, like the stuff that mom makes when she’s trying to make us healthy. There’s lots of it, but no one likes it much (except me, because I really like carrots and salad and broccoli). A kid a couple of tents over eats bugs and frogs when the counselors aren’t watching. He says it’s cause he can’t stand the food. I know he likes impressing Didi who pretends to be grossed out, but thinks he’s funny and really likes him. So, cookies and chips and candy would be the best thing ever — and I owe some of my friends snacks because you haven’t been sending enough for everyone.
  • I miss you, Mom and Dad. I like being on my own, but I really miss having you around, even with your dumb jokes and stupid rules about screen time and Facebook and making me go to bed earlier than my friends. I miss my own bed and the way that light comes in around the curtains. I really, really, really miss Ranger. I even miss his bad breath and how he hogs the bed when we go to sleep. I can’t wait to come home and be with you and Ranger and even dumb little Missy with her tantrums and getting into my stuff.
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