“P.S. I Hate It Here”

New book by Wilmette resident captures the humor of sending your kids to overnight camp

The following is excerpted from the foreward of Falanga’s book, which hits book stores in May 2010.

The idea of collecting hilarious letters that kids wrote home from overnight camp came to me a few years ago when I received my first letter from my daughter, Bianca. She was just 8 years old, and my husband, Mark, our older son, Blake, and I all thought she was too young to go away from home. But Bianca was determined: She begged, pleaded and assured us that homesickness only affected 7-year olds. She was so confident, we agreed. We packed up her pint-sized duffle bag and sent her off to camp for a week.

Then the first letter arrived.

“I cried because I got homesick … they made me clean the table. I want to go HOME.”

(Different day. Same Letter. As if things couldn’t get any worse.)

“I stopped crying … But we have chores today. I am the Scraper, Sweeper and Maid.”

Maybe I should have called the camp to check on the well being of my Little Orphan Annie. Instead, I called my sister and girlfriends to read them the letter. Of course, I cared about Bianca’s happiness at camp, but the guilty pleasure of delivering these quotes—with just the right note of comedic timing—was impossible to resist.

Instantly, friends began to read me their own kids’ camp letters and each was more outrageous than the last. The idea of a collection of camp letters was born! After sending out dozens of e-mails and contacting camps around the country, I was able to gather a few hundred more laugh-out-loud gems, contained in “P.S. I Hate It Here.”

These letters reveal that kids are wittier, more complex and more sophisticated than we assume they’d be at a young age. Ten-year-old Sam wrote: “One kid is playing other kids for $50 in poker. One kid lost $10. But don’t worry, I didn’t play. If I did, I would play the house. P.S. Dad, that poker set could have been useful after all.”

The letters also show that when writing from the heart (or when forced by a camp counselor in order to get supper) kids are inadvertently hilarious: “Dear Mom, Day 5 of camp is a lot better. The rash on my P-nus is gone and now I can run. My friends hate when I say eggs, so I’m trying to stop saying it. Love, Josh.”

This book is not a reflection on camp experiences by adults, but a collection of actual camp letters written home by kids—most getting a taste of independence for the very first time. … And while some campers may bitterly complain about hardships and homesickness, they seem to move past these issues instantly, leaving parents at home to fret and anxiously await the next letter. (Or to simply laugh and call their friends.)

Enjoy this hysterical portal into the hearts and minds of kids spending the summer away at camp and this trip down memory lane for so many who remember these days well.

Want to read more? You can pre-order/purchase the book through Amazon.com:

P.S. I Hate It Here: Kids’ Letters from Camp, by Diane Falanga