Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Memories of Camp

Several weeks ago I discovered a letter from 1966 that my eleven-year-old sister had written to me, her five-year-old brother, while she was at Bay Lake Camp in Deerwood, Minnesota. In bright red pen she wrote:

I miss you very much. I can't wait to be home. I am not going to camp ever again in my whole life. I don't like the camp very much. I wish it was Friday at 5:00. Love Debbie. P.S. I hate camp.

True to her words, my sister never again attended camp. And whether or not it was because of her letter, I never had the slightest desire to go to camp either... at least, until I became an adult.

For the past four years I've worked as an instructor at Jonathan Rand's Author Quest: "The Definitive Writing Camp for Serious Young Writers." Perhaps "dedicated" would be a better word to describe these 10-14 year-olds than "serious," especially since the writing workshop I led this year was all about humor and was anything but serious.

What will I remember most about this year's camp? It might be the young man who had been in special education classes the year before, but received one of the camp's top writing awards for the crowd-pleasing story he had written while at Author Quest. It might be the quiet little girl who had the whole camp roaring with laughter as she read her story about the attack of the Alien Apples from Outer Space. Or it might be the young lady I've watched grow from a shy writer several years ago to the poised young woman confident to share her words with the rest of us around the campfire at night.

I'm pretty sure none of these campers wrote a letter home like my sister's. Just the opposite, when camp ended this past Sunday, there were many campers who seemed reluctant to leave.

So, how about you? What are your memories of summer camp?


Christy said...

This sounds like a wonderful camp, David! The kids you describe seem so vivid.

Camp experiences I remember include:
--Girl Scout Camp with my best friend after fifth grade-songs and s'mores
--Creating our own camp in the empty lot behind this friend's house the following summer. We were inspired by our sixth grade teacher's reading of My Side of the Mountain. For a week we "lived off the land" like Sam Gribley, the hero of Jean Craighead George's book
--A YMCA caravan camp for high school boys and girls. We traveled all down the California coast and into Mexico. I still remember the secret camp handshake.
--One summer in college I was the arts and crafts specialist at a camp in Kings Canyon National Park.

All of these were rich times. Thanks for transporting me back to these memories!

Stephanie said...

I adore that letter:) And your writing camp sounds so cool, I bet the campers love you. Alas, I am one of those kids who never went to summer camp. My summers were all farm work, hay bales and showing my animals at the fair. I did go to a few basketball camps, maybe that counts:)

David LaRochelle said...

What great camp memories, Christy. I love the idea of you and your friend "living off the land" in the lot behind your friend's house! I'm envious of your summer at King's Canyon; what a gorgeous place to be the arts and crafts specialist.

And I learned some new things about you, Stephanie. I didn't realize you grew up on a farm. I always showed things at the county fair as well, but they were never animals, more like Ukranian eggs and clothesline baskets.

Edie Hemingway said...


This writing camp sounds like my kind of camp! I wish it had been offered when I was growing up. I never went to camp, either, but I did have wonderful outdoor experiences at my grandparents' cabin in the North Carolina mountains.

I did spend two of my college summers as a camp counselor--one at a Girl Scout camp and the other at an exclusive girl's camp in the mountains. The Girl Scout camp was my favorite, especially the nightly songfests around the campfire and learning to sing harmony.

Bug's mom said...

I never went to camp, so I have no memories to share. I do, however, have a young writer and may have to look into this camp in a few years...