as a senior high camp counselor i get to know campers in their last few years as a camper. then they go off to college or get a full-time job and most of them i never see again. some invite me to their high school graduation parties, but i can’t go to all of them so i don’t go to any of them. i still want graduating campers to know they’re important to me, so i came up with handing out graduation cards on the last day of camp.
cards don’t seem like much to me. they aren’t very expensive and i get fairly generic graduation cards so everyone gets the same one. i do spend the time to write a short personalized message for each camper about the impact they’ve had on me. sometimes i add a little advice and always best wishes for their future. i started doing the cards not so much for them but more so i could have one last thing to say, but it seems they appreciate it too.
i still don’t see most of my campers again after they graduate. very few say anything about the cards either, but sometimes they do and i’m amazed at the impact a short paragraph in a card can have. as someone who usually doesn’t speak up when someone says or does something that matters to me i know the cards have had an effect on more than just those who say so. this summer i’ll be writing out cards for a third group of graduating campers. the goodbyes are still hard, but the cards make them better.