A Note of Thanks

No matter how much we enjoy our jobs and working with children, it’s inevitable we’ll face days of doubt. We doubt our work makes a difference, we doubt that anyone notices, we doubt that we’re doing our best.

Our self-questioning can pop up for any number of reasons, can disappear in a flash or may linger for longer. Despite having spent 21 years in the classroom and 22 working with camp, there are still moments when I ask myself why I choose to work with youth.

In an attempt to fill our collective buckets, I’ve scoured various sources and archives for letters parents and campers have written in thanks for their experiences. These were addressed to counselors, camp directors and other summer camp staff, both in real life and online. Some have been paraphrased and some are verbatim, but all are meant to remind each of us that we do, indeed, make a daily difference in the lives of young people whether we know it or not.

What if you could write a quick note of thanks for a camp experience from your past? Who would it be for? What would you say?

“Sending our son to you and having him enjoy himself so much was a dream come true. He has not stopped talking about all the fun, games and friends he made. He has already made us promise that we will send him back again next year.”

“Although my wife and I were only on your camp grounds for the short period of time to drop off and pick up our daughter, your staff and counselors made us feel as though we were a part of your camp family, and that went a long way in easing my wife’s concerns.”

“The fact that my son knew all of the adult staff’s names speaks to the level of care and involvement your staff have with each camper. Not only do do you get to know the campers, you’re in their lives enough with such positive interaction that the camper can’t help but remember you for whatever it was that you added to their lives.”

“You are doing a wonderful job as evidenced by my son wanting to bring three of his friends from home to camp. Nothing speaks to the quality of a job well done than personal investment by a 13-year-old boy.”

“When I arrived at camp to take my child home, the greatest gift I received was to walk in to a very clean cabin. Now that I know that he is capable of cleaning while away, he most certainly can transfer that to home.”

“I will never forget this week at camp as long as I live. I got to touch things I’ve never touched before (who knew frogs weren’t slimy!) and learned things I didn’t know. I think this was the best week I have ever had in my life.”

“Your attention to the campers in keeping them engaged, not just busy, made an impression on me. It is a gift to be able to manage that many different children at the same time and have them leave all having a great time. Kudos to your staff.”

“Our daughter had an amazing time at camp. So amazing that she cried all the way home because she has to wait an entire year to come back.”

“My son was a different person at the end of the camping session than he was at the start. He stood taller, smiled more and hugged his friends goodbye. Not only did you take care of him, you nurtured him into a wonderful young man through your attention.”

“Imagine how thrilled I was when my daughter started singing all the goofy camp songs I remember singing myself as a young camper. Her songs give me back memories I haven’t thought about in years. That’s priceless to a parent who only wanted her child to love camp as much as she did.”

“Every summer that my daughter comes to camp is better than the one before. How do you do that? You must have something magical going on there. Keep up the good work!”

“Your camp gave my son confidence and the strength to face his fears, which will last a lifetime.”

“Our child’s personal growth after camp is noticeable.”

“What have you done with my son? The son I brought home from camp yesterday made his bed today, is happy playing sports with me and hasn’t once worried about his cell phone or iPod. He’s more mature and very unhappy being at home instead of camp. I love it!”

“Personally and professionally, my time at camp made all the difference and my life is richer for it. To see my kids will benefit from their time at your camp in the same way is the very best feeling. So thank you for carrying on the tradition.”

“Our daughter blossomed at your camp. When asked where she’d like to take a trip anywhere in the world, she said, “Camp, of course.””

“I don’t know where to start. My daughter has come back a changed child. She’s happier and doing much better in school, and has not stopped talking about all of her camp adventures.”

“I had the best and worst experiences of my life at camp each year. The best experience was the first day back in the cabin and the worst experience was going home. My camp family has equal importance to my regular family.”

Beth Morrow is a middle school educator, blogger and program director for Camp Hamwi, a residential summer camp for teens with diabetes. Reach her on Twitter @BethFMorrow