Camp Saves the Post Office



I have this fantasy about all I will get done when I send my only child off to summer camp. There are the multi-year lists of things that need to get cleaned out and the nine years of undone scrapbooks and photo-books of family trips, the office files that have not been filed in oh-so-many years, and let’s not even begin to talk about the boxes on the attic that were moved from my Washington house to Russ’ New Jersey House and then our Durham home only to stay unopened for twenty plus years.


Although I still have four and 5/6th weeks to get those things done I did not start off on the right foot. As soon as we got home form camp drop-off I left the house to go to Pokey’s stitch and bitch party to see my friend Margaret visiting from Minneapolis. All my new needlepoint students were at Pokey’s so I did not feel any guilt needle pointing at a party. The problem was that my extroverted self stayed too long and by the time I got home last night I was wired and could not go to sleep.


I lay next to the snoring Russ willing myself to pass out since I had to get up early to go to the trainer this morning. Why I had not changed my workout time so I could sleep-in just one day I do not know. Well, I do know that I need to keep up my training pattern before I go off to Africa where it will be hard to walk and there will be no fresh fruits or veg for me to eat without the fear of the runs.


After my exhausted workout, that being a workout I arrive at already exhausted, I went home to assemble the first care package I needed to send to Carter. I know she did not plan this, but yesterday when we were about twenty minutes from home Carter announced that she had left her camp laundry bag at home. “No problem,” I say, “I will mail it to you.”


The whole Care package thing is very important to Carter’s love of camp as well as her love of me as her mother. One year she said I sent too much, then the following year too little. This year I am trying for just right, but it will be harder than ever since I will be gone part of the time.


Even though I had already purchased care package items with Carter so that I could get it right I wanted to add a few surprises. That involved a little shopping this morning and a stop at the post office to get the prepaid box. I came home and carefully assembled the perfect balance of required items, (Laundry bag and stationary), treats to share with cabin mates and silly fun toys. I wrote a note and sealed up the box heading back to the post office. I realized that Carter had wiped me out of forever stamps so I needed to wait in the line to buy more for myself. As I stood there I witnessed six, yes six, other mothers sealing up care packages right there at the post office.


When my turn came with the clerk I was shocked that I had spent over $100 on mailing the package and buying the stamps. I turned as the mother next to me let out a gasp as she was asked how she wanted to pay the 75 dollars for the three care packages she was sending.


I went home too exhausted to work on any list chores and instead sorted junk mail while walking.   As I threw away a two foot tall stack of catalogs and only about five real letters I thought that the summer advent of camp must be a real boon to the Post office, what with all these cookies being mailed and real letters going to and fro camps that don’t allow electronic communication. If only every American would send one child to summer camp we might be able to save the US Postal System.