Camp Woodland Blog

A Counselor’s letter home

Posted by on July 17, 2014

Sam (right)

Dear Mom & Dad,

I’ve had the easy job. From the summer when I was nine, my job has been to come to Northern Wisconsin and grow into myself by learning how to ride, canoe, and shoot bows and arrows at camp. I lived with my best friends who are now my sisters and lost track of time in the warm summer haze.

Now seventeen, I recently figured out that your reality for the past nine summers has been very different from mine. While my days were punctuated with bells ringing and counselors cheering, you were at your job waiting for the mail truck to deliver one of my elusive letters. I avoided homesickness because I was at camp, my second home, while you missed your daughter because there was no one to greet you when you came home from work.  I had the easy part – I was able to live, love and laugh in a place where I belonged unconditionally. I became a stronger swimmer than you, Dad, and rode in first hour just like you, Mom. While you were at home, your two daughters were away at different sleep away camps for almost the entire summer.

For years, when other parents looked at me in disbelief and asked how you could possibly send me away for six weeks, I always smiled and said that you were happy to rid yourself of me for the summer; it was our break from each other. There’s a better reason, a truer reason, and I want to apologize for not giving it at the time. That reason is that you were willing to put aside your own selfish wants of having your child home because you knew that letting me go to camp for six weeks was the absolute best thing that could ever happen to me.

You were willing to let me go and let me figure out myself on my own terms. This allowed me to be independent and become a little more self-sufficient every time I came home.  You didn’t get frustrated with me during the summers when I barely wrote, and you never hinted at being insulted when I mentioned I wasn’t homesick at all during my time away.

You knew I loved you very much, and you let me love you from afar. You let me learn to love others who weren’t related to me in a way I was told only families love each other. You let me love a place with a different family to the same degree if not more than the love I have for my biological family and childhood home. Your selflessness gave me the opportunity I needed to be selfish for a few weeks each summer so that I could learn how to be selfless, too.

For all of this and more, I THANK YOU. Thank you for giving me nine summers in the Northwoods at Camp Woodland. Thank you for being tough when I wasn’t and letting me be tough when all you wanted was to carry me. Thank you for being camp parents, and thank you for letting me stand on my own feet. Thank you for giving me a place where I automatically belong and giving me two homes to love. More than anything, thank you for loving me and letting me love camp.


Sam with Cabin at Ropes Course

I love you and will see you soon,

Sam E

2nd year JC

2nd generation Camp Woodland Girl