Laura Zoeller

Letters home from camp

Letters home from camp

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I read a blog post this morning that had me laughing. Written by a Wisconsin woman named Liesl Testwuide, it detailed her child’s first camp experience and a letter she received from him during his stay. Having had several days of his absence to ponder what a letter from him might look like, she eagerly tore into it when it arrived.


It bore no resemblance to her imaginings.


Instead of extolling all of the virtues she instilled in him, such as using manners and trying new foods, it described in detail all of the situations at camp where he encountered some form of poop. Worms were also mentioned, as were farting, inappropriate toothbrush sharing and attempting to eat more popsicles than any previous camper.


It is so like an 8-year-old to find farts amusing. I know this because I have a son about the same age. If I read that letter to him, he would crack up, and probably tell all of his friends, who would laugh with him.


But, I also laughed because I had a similar experience when my son went to camp last summer. He was a little apprehensive because it was his first time away. Our middle child went the same week, so I expected him to settle in and whine when it was time to come home at week’s end.


Letters from the kids began arriving mid-week. My husband called me at work to share them. The one from our girl spoke about how well they were doing, how well the staff was accommodating his dairy-free diet and how much fun they were all having. She continued that the games and crafts were fun. She concluded she and our son both made many friends and they would be sad to leave when Friday came.


It was much the letter I expected. I was proud of how she was looking after her brother and making sure he was having as much fun as she was.


But when my husband opened the other letter, there was silence.


“I can’t figure out what he is saying,” he told me.


Our son is, admittedly, a horrible speller. He also doesn’t find much use for good penmanship. Combine those two things and you have the recipe for a difficult-to-read letter.


“I’ll just spell it for you,” he replied. “T-A-K-M-E-H-O-M,” he spelled.


Take me home.


All my baby wrote was “take me home.” How could my children write such totally different letters about the same experience? How could he be the laughing, happy child my daughter described if all he had to say to me was “take me home?” How could I stay for my shift knowing my child was miserably waiting for me to come get him?


Fortunately, my husband spoke rationally about the matter. We decided to call the camp and see how he was doing. “Fine all day, homesick at night” was the response – and he wanted to write letters at night.


We decided to leave him for the last couple days, and I’m glad we did. When we arrived, he was happily playing with a group of kids and, while happy to see us, was not distraught or anguished.


We both lived through it and, on the plus side, he never mentioned poop, worms or farts one time.



Laura Zoeller can be reached at zoeller5@verizon.net.


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