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Simple Gifts

Thoreau would make a natural blogger

Thoreau would make a natural blogger

For my 500 Things Project, I am getting rid of one thing every day for 500 days, until my son leaves for college in two weeks. Today #478: A copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau…

There are two kinds of families: Ones who send their kids to summer camp and the other kind.

My family was the other kind.

Because I never went to summer camp, I am left with the conviction that I missed out on the greatest, most formative experiences of life.

No wonder I’m such a mess: I never went to summer camp!

* I never camped under the perfect summer sky.
* I never learned to run like Rudy the Rabbit.
* I never met my long-lost twin!

Okay, maybe some of my yearnings are more informed by Disney than by the park district. But how would I really know? Still, I’ve heard from Actual Campers that camp truly was all that. And more.

I have a young friend who’s off on his first two-week sleep-away camp experience. He has the advantage of having an older brother who has been to the same camp and who has shared his rough and tumble camp wisdom. Well, some of his r & t camp wisdom. I understand it’s part of the Brother Code to share wisdom only on a need-to-know basis.

In many families, there is a kids-to-camp drill. In this one, as each boy departs for the first time, his parents send out an email entreaty, giving the newest camper’s address and encouraging family and friends to send along a note, a postcard, or, if they are so inclined, a care package. Remember how fantastic it was getting mail when you were at camp?

Well, no I don’t. But I do remember getting mail at college.

I remember the elation of looking through the tiny little window of my College Station mailbox and seeing the diagonal edge of a letter or, Oh Happy Day!, the end of a small package.

When you didn’t see that tell-tale edge, you could still humor yourself into dialing in your combination on the off-chance that you had received a very small card or, Oh Glorious Day!, a Large-Package Notice which was lying obscured on the bottom of your mailbox.

“Oh well,” was usually the response to this most hopeful act.

I’m remembering that hopefulness, and I’m hoping to delight my young friend during at least one mail-call. I’m sending him a letter and a book.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t go to camp, I wasn’t a boy, and so I’m not sure if what I am sending will actually please him beyond just getting mail. That’s probably enough.

I’m sending along an old copy I have of Walden. It’s sweet, it’s quaint, and for all my hopes of giving cheer to my young friend, it may be hopelessly naïve.

I’m not sure, but what more could you wish for the last precious days of summer camp?

For more about Naperville blogger Suzanne Thibeault’s rapidly winding down downsizing efforts, please visit www.500thingsproject.com.

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