Jackson has been gone for 11 days (not that anyone's counting). Before he left, he solemnly promised to write every day, although I told him that if he was busy having fun, he didn't need to write every day. Nana had purchased personalized fill-in-the-blank camp postcards to facilitate the writing process, and we gave him stamped envelopes pre-addressed to everyone he wanted to write--Nana and Papa, us as a family, and Kenyon and Alex individually.
I, of course, had written him starting a few days before he left for camp so he'd have one waiting for him on his first day. Throughout the first week, I asked questions about his tentmate, what activities he's chosen, if he had made any friendship bracelets yet? I included a puzzle here and there, along with some of his favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. I wrote a letter in a spiral to make it more fun to read. His Nana has written virtually every day as well, including fun puzzles from books she bought just for this occasion. Various friends and family members are sending letters and postcards (thanks everyone!).
We opened the mailbox each day like Charlie opening up a Wonka bar--slowly at first, and then superfast. Our thought process went like this--he wouldn't write on Monday, the first day of camp--probably Tuesday, after he's had a day to reflect on everything so far. So we should get a letter from him by Friday, right? Friday came and went, although we did get a phone call from the camp director letting us know that Jackson was doing great. She told us the kids have to write on the weekends--sweet, although we thought Jackson would surely write more often than the Required Writing Time. It didn't take too much effort to fill in some blanks on his personalized camp postcards and place it lovingly into a pre-addressed envelope, right?
Or as his Nana so eloquently put it, "How hard is it to fill out a fucking card???"
At the very least, we were comforted by the fact that Required Writing Time meant we were sure to get something--until I heard it's common practice to send an empty envelope to your parents. What kind of parental torture are these children capable of? I pictured campers chortling around the campfire, regaling others with their stories of sending glaringly empty envelopes home to their child-starved, sobbing parents.
We rested assured that a letter would be on its way on Monday, and we should get it by Thursday. When I left the house this morning, Sam promised that he would wait to open the letter until I got home (which is much nicer than me, because there's no way in hell I would have waited if the situation was reversed).
I walked in the door from work, and there it was, sitting right there on the counter. A letter from my oldest son, who I miss so much. I couldn't wait to open it and find the answers to all my questions--has he tried anything that he liked more than he'd thought? Has he built forts or hiked down to the beach? Has he played Capture the Flag or gone to Slingshot Alley? Would he have enclosed his pages of completed puzzles?
With great anticipation, I opened the envelope, pulled out a full length sheet of paper (oh good, he wanted to write more than would fit on the card!), and saw this:
Ok, there were words--another good sign. No empty envelope for these parents! Sam, Alex and Kenyon have all been really looking forward to a letter, too, so it would have been awesome if Jackson had included their names as well. But at least he didn't forget his Mommy. :) I read on...
"My first night at camp was great. I passed the swim test! I'm going to a canoe camp for 2 days."
We waited nearly two weeks for this?? I turned the page over, looking for more. No dice. Using forensic investigative techniques, we deduced that he wrote this on his second day of camp, shoved it into his trunk, and then forgot about it until Required Writing Time. Then he dusted it off, shoved it into an envelope and sent it off. We examined the scribbled out portion at the bottom and saw that he had written 'P.S.' but then obviously decided he couldn't be bothered to include any more details about his life and hastily scratched it out.
Also in the envelope was this little dried flower.
Cute, but I'd rather have words.
We also got a postcard from Jackson's counselor, who wrote that Jackson is a wonderful kid, well-behaved (whew!) and always excited to learn. He also said that Jackson is a leader in his group and has been helpful around the unit.
He's clearly having the time of his life, and we would much prefer to not hear from him than to get a daily letter detailing all the things he hated about camp. We're all thrilled for him.
Here's hoping he'll break the 30-word barrier in his next letter. 14 days until he comes home (not that anyone's counting). sigh.