For Campers

How to Write (the right) Letter Home 

Written by Joey Schwartz

You know how to send an email. And a text message? Piece of cake. But when is the last time you sent an old-fashioned, pen-and-paper letter? During summer camp, when cell- phone service can be shaky and technology is often forbidden, knowing how to put together a well- crafted letter is a must.

Seven Tips to Guide Your Writing:

1. A Dear Welcome 

Whom are you writing the letter to? Start your letter by writing his or her name after the word “Dear” and put a comma after their name. It’s the classic way to start a letter, and your family will be impressed!

2. Making Memories

Make sure to write down the date on which you’re writing the letter. Your family may keep the letter or put it in a scrapbook, and you’ll be able to look back and remember exactly when you wrote it.

3. P.S. You Don’t Need a P.S.

Writing a P.S. (“post-script”) is completely optional. But if you’re going to have one, write something funny that will make your family smile.

4. Get Specific

Your family wants to know the details. They want to feel like they are there with you. Tell them exactly what you’ve done at camp – the people, schedule, games and highlights. The more details the better!

5.  Fun & Safe

You want to establish two things from the get-go. You are having fun and you are safe. Fun without safety can give the impression that you’re on the verge of an injury; safety without fun can give the impression that you’re on the verge of utter boredom. Tell your family that you’re having a blast and you’re going to come back home in one piece.

6. All You Need is Love

There are lots of ways to end a letter, but you should probably put the word “love” in there somewhere. Odds are your family has been thinking about you constantly since you left for camp. Reminding them of your love is probably the most important part of your letter.

7. Don’t Love it Too Much

Your family wants to know that you love camp. But they also want to know that you love home more. Make sure to give a small critique or two of camp, just so they’ll know you’re missing the comforts of home.

Sample Letter

July 5, 2015

Dear Mom,

I’m having a blast at camp. I couldn’t have imagined having this much fun, but it just keeps getting better! I’m making plenty of new friends. Everyone is so welcoming, and we do everything together. The camp staff is great, too. They make sure we stay safe while we’re having fun!

On Monday, we learned how to water ski, and then at night, we played capture the flag. Wednesday was the best day of the week. We divided up into teams and competed in a tug-of-war tournament. I’m proud to say my team finished second (we barely lost in the championship). We usually go to bed at 10 p.m., and we wake up at 6:30 a.m. every morning!

As much as I’m loving camp, the chicken pot pie here doesn’t come close to the one you make at home. I’m going to enjoy every minute of camp, but I’ll sure be ready to see you at the end of the month. I miss you and can’t wait to see you soon.

Love, Johnny

P.S. Please make sure Freddy gets fed twice a week! He’s a growing iguana and needs his protein.




Written by: Hayley Fowler

Designed by: Hamza Butler


There is almost no place in the world where folly is as much appreciated as it is at summer camp — in fact, it’s encouraged. And more often than not, the masterminds behind it are your camp counselors. Beloved by all and feared by many, they’ve invented the most creative payback for all the times you refused to sleep during rest hour, tricked them into thinking you’d showered and snuck an extra dessert.


Here are some of our favorites submitted by readers:


“My campers and I once took all of (my co-counselor) Ana Leija’s stuff and distributed them all over the (senior) hill with notes on them that required her to do an act to get her stuff back… for example, she had to trade clothes on her body for her guitar.” – Adrienne Wood, counselor at Camp Kahdalea Brevard, North Carolina

“Prelude: Traditionally at camp there is a mud day thrown by the outdoors department, when all of camp spends the afternoon getting dirty and ending it by sliding down a giant tarp on a hill into a moat of soap-water. This was during my CIT (counselor in training) summer — It was in protest to admin’s banning of mud day that year. One night a friend woke me
up at 3 a.m. In between two of our cabins in a 10-square-foot area, I joined four others outside throwing shovels into the dirt and excavating what would become a great mud pit. I took
a hose and showered it. We did our work under the moon, no interruption. In the morning, 36 of us gathered around the pit. We took a group vote of whether to jump in, which would surely get us in trouble. Obviously we did, and our counselors didn’t care. Thoroughly bathed in mud, we marched through camp. By the time our demonstration had rolled downhill, camp’s admin pulled up on us in golf carts. Our punishment ended up being short and fun; we just cleaned up some trails. Our handprints from that afternoon are still visible on the sides of cabin #1 and cabin #2 to this day, three years later. Mud day has returned every summer since.” – Eric Schwartz, counselor at Camp Airy Thurmont, Maryland


“Some of my favorites: leaving pizza under someone’s bed all summer until it started to mold, having my bed filled with ketchup (which I hate), and putting the camp director’s dining hall table on the raft in the lake.” – Annie Pancak, counselor at Sandy Island YMCA camp Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire


“We filled our director’s cabin with balloons so when he got out of the shower, he was completely surrounded by hundreds of balloons. Also, we woke up the boys’ cabins in the middle of the night with a megaphone shouting (and we may or may not have thrown eggs).”
– Caroline Warburton, counselor at Camp Henry Canton, North Carolina

“The girls were at church camp, way up north near the Eel River, about six hours from home. The night before they left, they were at campfire very late — with several emotional rituals. So they were exhausted. Sleep came easily, and they knew they would have to wake early for the buses. Suddenly, drawing them out of a deep sleep, the counselors were screaming at them that they were LATE and that the buses were about to leave. Not only did they have to throw their stuff together FAST but they had to drag it up a hill and through a stream to get to the buses. It was still dark but they didn’t want to miss the bus! They finally get to the top of the hill, with the counselors all snapping at their heels, when the counselors all broke into hysterical fits of laughter and the kids noticed there weren’t any buses. The kids had only been asleep for an hour. It was only 1 a.m. and the buses, of course, weren’t leaving until 10 a.m. At least they had a few hours left to sleep.” – Barbara Ganias, camp parent Pleasanton, California





Written by: Maria Peña

Designed by: Addie McElwee

Packing for summer camp is not like packing for a sleepover or a weekend trip. Camps can last just a week or an entire summer, and packing enough supplies for that long can be a little chaotic. Here’s a summer camp packing checklist organized by categories so you don’t forget anything before zipping up your backpack.

Camp Essentials:

  • First-aid kit
  • Water shoes
  • Flashlight
  • Pillow
  • Laundry bag
  • Plastic baggies
  • Water bottle
  • Sleeping bag
  • Journal
  • Pens
  • Rain boots
  • Spending money
  • Maps
  • Goggles
  • Sunglasses



  • Sweatshirt
  • Hat
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • Rain jacket
  • T-shirts
  • Sleepwear
  • Bathing Suit


Bath and Hygiene:

  • Towel
  • Shower caddy
  • Toiletries
  • Bug spray
  • Lip balm
  • Deodorant
  • Toiletries

Quick tips:

1. Use a permanent marker to write your name on all your clothes and items.

2. Make sure you pack extra T-shirts and socks in case it’s an extra wet summer.

3. Bring an extra pair of old tennis shoes in case you need to play in them or get them dirty.

4. Try packing your clothes in groups of plastic bags. It will save you space in your trunk and help keep you organized during your time at camp.

5. Even if you’re allowed to use technology, avoid it! You’re going to camp to make friends and have fun, so leave your devices at home and enjoy!