Letter from Camp

Dear mom and dab,

I’m writing you from book camp. I haven’t been able to write you sooner because I’ve been working on my book all the time. Even when I leave the cabin/cell/room cellfromoutdoorswhere I actually sit to write the book and go to my bunk even there my head is still in the cabin/cell/room and I’m thinking if paragraf three should become paragraf seven and if chapter five should switch places with chapter six. It’s like building a mall with lego. Too bad I never played with lego.

I know there’s a lot going on in the world – the milkman delivers news every now and then – but I can’t be bothered, not only because I stopped drinking milk. “The world will always offer reasons not to focus on your book.” This is what the senior counselors here say, so they encourage us, i mean me, to stick to what they call GOAL. I know it’s a term used in soccer and football, but I never payed attention back then, so it’s like a new term for me. It’s more than a word. It’s a way to get you to sit in the chair even if you want to jump on the trampolene or paint the peeling wall yellowneedspainting or plant lettuce or anything else that demands getting up from the chair. Thinking GOAL seems to work, at least at camp. I’m sticking to getting the book ready for an editor if not by the end of camp (august 24th) then by the end of sukkot (oct. 17th)

Book camp isn’t anything like forest acres where you sent me in 1958. At book camp I’m the camper counselor and cleaner. I have to wake myself up in the morning, make my own breakfast, go to the retreat room/cabin/cell for writing, print out a chapter in the print cabin, make lunch, dinner, snacks etc etc. it might sound hard, but climbing mount Washington was hard too. (Did I ever tell you about the blisters that got infected and the mean nurse who opened them and told me I was a cry baby??) At boot camp, I mean book camp, there are other activities too. Everyday I can choose among yoga, tai chi, fold-unfold, swimming, biking, walking, shiatsu and dancing. I try to do at least one of those every day to counter all the sitting. The chief counselor believes in staying healthy while you write your book, because if you get sick then the sickness becomes another reason not to focus. (Sometimes I wish I had mono . . . )

We also have field trips. We?? I’m the only one at this camp, though a friend named Ruthie visited and thought it was “a slice of heaven” and signed up for a few days.

My favorite field trips are to tel aviv and Haifa. In tel aviv I pick up A. from her babysitter and we stroll down ben gurion avenue. A twenty-minute walk takes us two hours because we look at everything from up in the sky: clouds, birds, airplanes, helicopters, moon, kites, etc., to everything down on the ground: cars, cats, dogs, skooters, bicycles, tables, fruit shakes, buses, trucks, ambulances, steam shovels, fork lifts, policemen, babies, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, paintings,painting2 sculptures, red lights, green lights, stop signs, sand, dirt, stones, flowers, trees, dead leaves, fences, slides and swings. By the time we reach rabin square with its fountains, I’m wiped out, but I also appreciate all the many words I still have to describe all the wonders we see on ben gurion avenue. Do you remember that dogs come in all shapes sizes and colors, as do trees and flowers? Who needs kindergarten and school with a street like this??dogs

My other favorite field trip is when I go to Haifa and visit my three little munchkins. We swing in the park and eat ice cream and try to figure out how to handle strong jealous feelings without killing each other like the brothers in the bible. It’s not easy, but it’s still easier than sitting down and writing the book. I have to go now because I’ve already spent too much time writing to you and I’m losing my focus. The senior counselor says “Never take your eye off the GOAL. Focus!!” It’s kinda like softball, I think, where you always have to watch the ball so it won’t hit you in the face. Fortunately, there’s no softball at  book camp.

So thanks mom and dab for enabling me to spend this summer at camp. deskAfter the book comes out and I return from my workwide tour—I mean worldwide tour—I’m thinking of becoming a nursery school teacher. The babysitter says I have talent.

Love ya,

your daughter, JUDY

PS – Say hi to tweetie and spot. Don’t forget to pick me up on august 24th, the earlier the better.

About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
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11 Responses to Letter from Camp

  1. Stephan Schenker says:

    You’ve managed to utterly demolish any illusion I might have had about progressing beyond being a fledgling writer. 


    P.S. Only kidding.  Sent from Samsung Mobile


  2. estherhecht says:

    Dear Judy,
    You have captured beautifully the pain and pleasure (actually more pain than pleasure) of writing, especially in the image of being both counselor and camper. On my bulletin board I have a cartoon by Ruta Modan in which a woman writes and crumples up draft after draft, and finally ends up lying on the floor asking, “Why do I write?” Her dog responds, “Because it’s fun.”
    I’m looking forward to your book.


  3. Marianne Friedman says:

    Thanks for the good giggle! How to get a point across thru humor. Sorry Monday is my last day at the Writing Gym till 2015. It has helped to improve my Postcards from Jerusalem that I have been sending to friends and family for several years. Tells them about daily life in Israel behind the headlines. And it has improved my memoir writing in general.

    Thanks, Judy!


  4. Joan Leegant says:

    How do I sign up?
    Actually, am hoping to start a one-woman camp of my own very soon. Will remember GOAL (not to be confused with the Gaelic GAOL…but now similar in so many ways). Love from Seattle. Joan


  5. Joan Leegant says:

    Typo in my comment. I meant to say “but HOW similar…”. That’ll teach me to use my less than coke-bottle strength reading glasses…


  6. Nancy says:

    Sensational! I could actually hear your voice while reading, and it just made me miss you a lot! Baci. Nancy


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