I was a city kid, but my mom had a 4-H background, and she was determined that her children would have those experiences, too. So she founded the "Friday Firecrackers," a club on Charleston's West Side.
We didn't raise hogs or plant corn, but we could take on other 4-H projects, like cooking and sewing. The highlight of the year, and the main reason to be in 4-H, was camp.
I loved camp, even though I remember clearly that there were good and bad aspects.
Campfire circles were good. Field activities in the hot sun were not so good.
Dining hall food was mediocre at best, and bunkhouse showers were disgusting. Swimming was good, and a better way to stay clean.
Perhaps the best aspect was the friendships. If I run into a fellow camper these days, there's an instant kinship even though several decades have passed.
I don't go to camp anymore, but I still like to receive mail.
However, I am almost always disappointed when I reach into the box. Rarely is there an actual letter from a human being written just to me. And nobody sends me "care packages" full of treats.
A saintly cousin has been a faithful correspondent for years, but even she has started using e-mail.
Long letters cause me to kick off my shoes and curl up in a comfortable chair. I have a hard time getting around to long e-mails.
Recently the Daily Mail carried a feature story about some old portraits kept by the state Division of Archives and History. In a bygone era, the artists apparently made careers of capturing images in oil on canvas.
It's not that people stopped liking oil paintings. But cameras were invented, and over time they got better, less expensive and easier to use. Hand-painted portraits weren't needed.
The same thing is happening to letters. Everybody still likes them. We just don't need them as much, and there are faster alternatives.
Surely the day is not far off when kids will pack up their iPhones or iPads along with their bug spray and swimsuits to take to camp. Technology will be so much a part of all our lives that no one will think twice about it.
In the 1960s, after all, I took a camera to camp, not canvas and easel.
Eventually there may be no need for "mail call."
Fortunately, that day has not yet arrived. So I will put pen to paper and write my young friend a long, old-fashioned letter.
Friend is editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-5124 or na...@dailymail.com.