This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the organized camp experience. And, while much about the camp experience has evolved and adapted to meet the needs of today’s families, at its core the essentials of the camp experience are the same. And, many of the traditions of camp, like letters from home, remain a critical part of the camp experience.
Letter writing is quickly becoming a lost art to today’s younger generations. In a world of constant and immediate electronic connection, the letter has become a unique reminder of time spent at camp. In addition to preserving memories, children use language arts and handwriting skills when sending a letter – skills that may not be otherwise used during the summer break.
Camp not only provides an opportunity for healthy separation, it also provides an opportunity for families to let campers know just how much they are loved at home. And, words of confidence and encouragement from home reinforce the independence and self-reliance being developed at camp. The American Camp Association® (ACA) provides the following tips to help families communicate with campers, and be a part of the life-changing experience of camp from afar:
- Give your child pre-addressed, stamped envelopes or postcards so that he or she can keep you informed of camp activities.
- Send a note or postcard in advance to the camp so there will be a personalized touch of home when your child arrives. This lets young campers know that the family is thinking about them, assures campers that parents know they are having a good time, and expresses enthusiasm for the camp's activities.
- Care packages are always appreciated. Be sure to check with the camp director to see what the camp's policies are regarding what items may or may not be included.
- Avoid mentioning how much parents, siblings, family, and even pets miss them. While families may think it sends a “we love you so much” message, it may actually cause unnecessary homesickness and worry over loved ones.
- Discuss communication options with camp directors. Many camps offer families the opportunity to check in using technology to post photos and video of daily activities to camp Web sites. In some instances, parents may be able to send an email to the camper that is printed out and delivered with the regular mail. It’s important for families to always check with the camp director prior to camp to get the scoop on policies — from what electronics are allowed at camp to correspondences with home.
For more information on the life-changing experience of camp, or to use ACA’s Find a Camp  database to find the perfect camp experience for your child, visit www.CampParents.org . In addition, families can follow ACA on Facebook  and Twitter for helpful hints and camp information.
Contact Public Relations at 765.349.3317 or pr@ACAcamps.org  to interview an ACA spokesperson or for more information about communicating with campers. For customizable public service announcements or article reprints, visit our Media Center at www.ACAcamps.org/media .
The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org .