Girls at Vermont's Aloha Hive Camp for girls love getting mail.
Kids at The Aloha Foundation's Vermont summer camps love to receive handwritten letters from home.

Every day (except Sunday), the post office in Fairlee delivers at least three enormous bags of mail to the Aloha Foundation’s main office.  Sometimes there are more than three, but it is a given, that there will be an enormous bag each for Aloha, Hive and Lanakila, bursting with letters to campers and counselors from family and friends.  Yesterday there were two bags for Lanakila, two bags for Aloha Hive and one for Aloha.  In addition, there are bins of inter-camp mail to be delivered, written to siblings at another camp, affectionate missives from one counselor to another and simple notes to arrange plans with another camp department for multi-camp gatherings. Sorting the mail in each camp’s office takes nearly an hour.

Yesterday, both USA Today and the  New York Times discussed traditional summer camps and what kinds of communication campers have their parents. Although a majority of summer camps still require campers to communicate the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper, nearly 25% of camps allow parents to email their children, and in some cases check in by cell phone.  For some “helicopter parents,” the inability to check in daily with their child might preclude a camp that is technology-free. For many parents, however, a child’s chance to negotiate their camp experience without the presence of mom or dad to solve problems, is a gift. Children learn the tools and skills to work through conflicts and challenges, feeding a sense of empowerment and self-esteem.

Many alumni of Aloha, Hive and Lanakila treasure the letters their parents saved; my letters written home from Aloha Hive in the summers of 1973-1975 are written in somewhat sloppy, loopy handwriting on orange lined stationery printed with my name on the top. I write about Mississippi Mud Night, my fun tent-mates, a trip to the summit of Smarts Mountain and the blueberries we found there. I too have saved six summers worth of letters from my Lanakila viking.  The letters written when he was in Brookside are very affectionate, and included drawings done on his bed during rest hour and an occasional pressed leaf he thought I would like.  Letters written from Lakeside were more matter-of-fact, and included requests for his lunch on Show Weekend.

What kinds of letters do you receive from your camper? Have you had the experience of receiving an upsetting letter from camp, but found that by the time you received the mail, the crisis had been resolved? Are you saving your child’s letters? We are curious about whether Aloha Camps parents value, as much as we do, the slower pace and “time-space continuum of snail mail.”

9 thoughts on “Aloha, Hive & Lanakila Camp Parents Keep Fairlee, VT Post Office Busy All Summer.

  1. I have saved every letter from my 2 boys when they were at Lanakila. All very short and some even saying “I’m just writing this because I have to”… but I treasure all of them!

  2. I recently came across a huge batch of camp letters back and forth to my parents from my Anti-Q year up through Club (as a counselor i guess i must have relied on the counselor room phone – no matter how long the line was!). What a treasure, particularly after recently losing my father – I now have all letters he wrote, something he held in his hands.

    I look forward to my two boys heading off to Lanakila in a few years and I’m sure I will treasure whatever letters I get. Even in an age of email, text messaging and ubiquitous cell phones, the letter lives on.

    1. Cheryl and Christina – thanks for your comments, and I agree, those letters are so precious. No email, text or phone call comes close to the strong emotional feeling of a letter.

  3. I have sent my seven year-old Elfin off for the first time and I am DYING. My friends think I’m crazy for letting her be out of contact so long, and I admit — I worry they’re right. Today, the letter I’ve been waiting for, which lets me off the hook the night before I’m to go get her. It opens with: “ALOHA! I am having a great time! Pick me up in a few years, okay?”

    I feel like I just earned my anti-helicopter wings. Thanks for everything.

    1. Elizabeth, that is such great news. Good for you for hanging in until the first letter arrived. Your wings have definitely been earned!

  4. Even though my kids have been back from camp for 2 weeks, I just got a letter in the mail from my youngest…the one that decided NOT to write this summer because she was having too much fun….(apparently a very lost letter postmarked Jul29th!)
    The best part of the letter : “I only get a little homesick when we sing Aloha Oe.., makes me think of you” (Ines,9yrs old)

  5. I saved every letter last year and this year as well. I numbered them as they came, so in years to come, Cooper and I can look back and see the sequence of events once again. He loves getting mail, so I would try to send something almost every day. I also kept his received mail for the last two years as well. It will be fun to take that trip down memory lane with hime someday. 🙂 Hopefully someday we can take it with one of his kids.

  6. I was a concelour in Camp Lanakila The Aloha Camp for Boys Fairlee,Vermont in the summer of 1975.I will like if you might have any pictures of those years or if someone remmeber staying there at the same time. I am now a Doctor working in Reproductive Medicine…Francisco Risquez

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