My mom loves to tell the story about my summer sleep away camp which exemplifies my fierce independent streak, but she only tells the part of the story that she knows.
When I was ten or eleven, I got it into my head that I was going to go to a Girl Scout sleep away camp. We had received a brochure the outlined all of the camps that were available to me near where I lived in New Jersey, most of them being in the Poconos. There were camps that offered a variety of different adventures for different lengths of times. I decided to pick one that incorporated something I was adept at with something new. It was a camp where the first week you participated in water sports like swimming and canoeing. I had been a swimmer my whole life, no problem. At the end of the first week, they would bus campers to a different camp to learn about horses and horseback riding.
The part that my mom highlights is that I did this entirely on my own. My friends were all going to other camps. I would start out alone, knowing no one, for my first multi-night camping experience.
I arrived at camp with some trepidation but was quickly welcomed by the other girls assigned to the same tent as me. Everything was amazing until the first night and it turns out the mosquito netting that my parents had gotten me wasn’t right and wasn’t working out. Then the rain started. A storm came through and all the campers had to cram in the main lodge to wait it out. Many games of UNO were played but the home sickness was starting to set in.
Then the postcards started showing up. There was a little building at both camps where you could “buy” treats or candy if your parents set up an account for you, but you also received mail there too. A couple of days after I arrived at camp, I started to get postcards from my mom. Daily.
They never really said very much, they mostly just told me that they loved me and missed me. The best part was that they would be covered in little stamps.
My mom has collected rubber stamps for as long as I can remember. She’s always been a super crafty person and stamps have been one of the ways that she expresses herself. On the postcards there were always fun little pictures or characters from her multitudes. She also numbered all of the postcards so that I could make sure that I received all of them.
I have no memory of what was on the front of the cards. I think they were witty, humorous ones that she picked up somewhere. It didn’t matter. The postcards saved me. When I was feeling a tad homesick or feeling like I had made a monumental mistake by choosing this adventure, looking at her postcards lifted my spirits.
Even to this day, the cards that I receive from my mom in the mail are the best. They are almost always handmade with some cute little animal or funny pun. I’ve lost the postcards but they are by far my most favorite and memorable item I have every received in the mail.