NEW HOPE, Minn.-- One of the most gut-busting things I've ever read was a spread a few years back in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: It was an actual collection of letters that kids had penned after leaving home to go to summer camp.
As is the case, the funniest ones were also the most heart wrenching: the plea to come home because a kid had been chewed to ribbons by mosquitos, picked up a case of the trots from eating a poorly cooked hamburger, been hung from his swim trunks on a flagpole... you know the drill.
It seems nostalgic... because kids don't write from camp anymore.
My oldest daughter has been at hockey camp up north for 5 days now... I pick her up tomorrow. No letters have arrived in our mailbox, but my phone has buzzed about twice a day or so with electronic updates, at least for the first couple days of the week. Texts, that I'm not supposed to be getting.
See, camp organizers lean old school, meaning they want to keep things a touch nostalgic. No cell phones, computers, t-v's, or other things that take a campers mind off the mission, which is in this case, HOCKEY. Mr. Woog and his crew made it quite clear in the brochure that cell phones were to be left at HOME for a few days, so the electronic nonsense would not lead to problems and distract from teaching.
I asked my kid for her phone a day before driving up to camp and she looked at me like I'd grown a third arm. "Delaney, it says so on the rule sheet," I told her. She rolled her eyes, and told me in no uncertain terms that nearly every kid there brought a phone last year, the lines for the dorm phone were ridiculous, and that she'd only use it to contact me and her mom at night, or in case of an emergency (she did suffer a pretty good concussion last year, which forced a run to the hospital and 3 days of watching... bummer).
So I relented. The first day my phone buzzed about three times... one with a room update, one with a practice, and one with a request for classic pranks, as they were engaged in a prank war with a crew from another room. I enjoyed hearing from her, as she is a fun kid... and the house seemed pretty quiet.
The next day came one phone call... a text to her mom... and then nothing.
As I thought about it, something came to me. Camp isn't only a chance for parents to take a break from their kids, it's an opportunity for kids to get out from under the thumb of the evil empire... to go to sleep when they want, skate without dad ragging on them about a missed play or questionable effort, etc. I figure that the ease of texting her allowed me to keep things 'too' close... and not give her the space that a 13 year old needs to grow, both on the ice... and as a human being.
So I kept my fingers off the keypad today, and she didn't send me anything. Maybe it was two practices and a horseback riding trip, or maybe it's just that... she didn't want to.
That's ok, because tomorrow (pickup day) will come soon enough. I'll ask her if she wrote... and if she's smart, she'll tell me it got lost in the mail.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)