Saturday, August 11, 2007

Camp Mail

It is a camp tradition to focus most pranks on the mail system. (There was a bit of fun had with the cabin clean-up, pushing bunks against doors and crawling out the window; or emptying even the mirrors, mattresses, and shelves along with suitcases, etc. out of the room entirely.) If you got a package, or enough letters, you had to sing for it. If you got a postcard, they read it out loud. If something was written on the outside of an envelope, that got read, too. Then there was always the question of what was inside the letters and packages.

One year I sent twenty-four letters in a box to a friend whose birthday was during the week of camp, one for every hour. The same friend received seven random letters from denture ads to a page from the encyclopedia, with letters highlighted spelling Trouble, my nickname with her used for teasing and practical jokes. I sent a mysterious forged love letter. Almost everyone was consulted for speculations on authorship.

This year I limited my letters to ten, sent to various friends, family, and my cabin girls in sets of three. On the outside of some I wrote notes, like the promise not to include denture ads or pictures of girlfriends. Inside was a benign colored collage of the history of tools used for various purposes.

I myself was the recipient of a package of cookies from my mom, and a postcard written from a boy I do not know, so I am quite content of its being a prank. In it the young man, who did not know my age, confessed his secret love while describing my beauty. I don’t think I even blushed while it was read, but I was glad that I didn’t need to make a big point of my singleness to the present company. Later I discovered that my little sister thought I was the age recorded on the postcard. I find that suspicious.

Other jokes were to send rocks, balloons, a lot of fake mushy postcards sealed with a lipstick kiss and perfumed, and maybe even a few (stolen earlier in the week) hats. One of the counselors even sent her husband a postcard, which I believe mentioned packing a teddy-bear. As postcards were read at meal time, the recipients either feigned ignorance (that looking better than appearing to have expected a love letter), suffered blushingly under the stares of the entire room, or in a few cases, leapt for the letter and tackled the camp staff who was reading the post.

The guilty senders ranged from blatantly admitting the joke to hinting that they sent the letters (as I was unwilling to engage in guessing) to complete anonymity and poker-faces. All this dissolved as soon as we were safe in the girls’ lodge, where comparing of notes and laughter over puzzled, red faces of friends exploded.

Good mail was received, as well. The cookies were good. I got notes from home. And a friend worked hard to make me a postcard so I wouldn’t feel left out among the younger friends at camp.

To God be all glory.

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