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A Letter to My 14-Year-Old at Camp

Photograph by Getty Images

Dear L-,

Finally, we hear from you! Two weeks, two days and three hours after we dropped you off at the bus for camp (but who’s counting?), a note arrives in the mail. This is great news, because although they post photos of you on the camp website every night, that only gets us so far. I love that you’re smiling in the pictures, and you are surrounded by buddies and—the last few days—a couple of cute blondes. I’ve checked out pics of you suited up for the ropes course, and hanging out by the pool, and even wearing that Morro Bay T-shirt we shipped to you on the way home from our four-day weekend on the Central Coast.

But images are not the same as words—your words. I assume you are reading our words. The long emails, like this one, that we write every night via the camp website. They tell me they print them out and give them to you at rest time. And from at least that one photo, I know you are getting the care packages we mail out twice a week; the T-shirts and Legos and set of magic tricks, etc.

So anyway, the envelope comes in the mail and we could not be more excited. Your brother and sister and father and I crowd around, and this is what we read:

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Family,

Send sunscreen, more flipflips, and soap. Send good packages. Also, can I please see This Is the End the day I get back?

L-

P.S. I’m having fun

P.P.S. PLEASE send a Rubik’s cube and a sweatshirt.

OK, L-, I get this that is your fifth year at this camp. You know the drill, and you figure we do, too. But dude, there’s still a thing or two you need to learn about correspondence.

First off though, I should say that I gathered up the requested items, put them in a box today (Saturday) and sent it UPS. You will get it on Tuesday, which is the earliest possible date.

Inside the box, in addition to the items you requested, you will find two stamps. These are for writing us two letters (I'm assuming you still have the stationery we got at Target, or can obtain some). In those letters, you will write us about the things you have done, and what is going on in your life. You will ask after us, and tell us you miss us, even if you don't, because that is the thoughtful thing to do. You will sign it "Love, L-." And you will not address us as "Family." Rather, you will take the time to list us by name.

We love you and miss you, and we expect more.

The first letter will be written, and addressed, to me and daddy. The second letter will be written, and addressed, to your brother and sister. You will write each one with your audience in mind. Writing one letter and copying it for the second letter is not acceptable.

Finally, you will never again assume it is OK to expect us to pay your camp tuition, buy you 16 T-shirts, help you pack your duffle, drive you to the bus, write you just about every night, and plan and ship care packages to you, in exchange for notes listing what we must immediately drop into a box and get to you, posthaste. We love you and miss you, and we expect more. We don't think that's unreasonable.

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We are all fine, out here in Los Angeles, and we are looking forward to those really good letters!

Love,

Us

P.S. We will not have time to go to see This Is the End on the day you return from camp, though I'm glad you mentioned it so you would not be disappointed when I had to turn you down. We are invited to a BBQ and swim get-together at the Z-s' at 4-ish that afternoon. I told Mrs. Z- you might be too tired to join us and she understands, though it would be nice if you could come, as you will be missed. Re: the movie—perhaps we can go later in the week, some afternoon when your brother is out of summer school and your sister is away at camp. Writing that nice letter or two from camp would definitely help your case.

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