The following appeared in a computer magazine in Mr. Dvorak's column:
Dear Mr. Dvorak:
Ann Landers wouldn't print this. I have nowhere else to turn. I have
to get the word out. Warn other parents. I must be rambling on. Let me
try and explain. It's about my son, Billy. He's always been a good,
normal ten-year-old boy. Well, last spring we sat down after dinner to
select a summer camp for Billy. We sorted through the camp brochures.
There were the usual camps with swimming, canoeing, games, singing by the
campfire -- you know. There were sports camps and specialty camps for
weight reduction, music, military camps and camps that specialized in
Tibetan knot tying. I tried to talk him into Camp Winnepoopoo. It's
where he went last year. (He made an adorable picture out of painted
pinto beans and macaroni). Billy would have none of it. Billy pulled a
brochure out of his pocket. It was for a COMPUTER CAMP! We should have
put our foot down right there, if only we had known. He left three
weeks ago. I don't know what's happened. He's changed. I can't explain
it. See for yourself. These are some of my little Billy's letters.
The kids are dorky nerds. The food stinks. The computers are the
only good part. We're learning how to program. Late at night is the
best time to program, so they let us stay up.
Camp is O.K. Last night we had pizza in the middle of the night.
We all get to choose what we want to drink. I drink Classic Coke. By
the way, can you make Szechuan food? I'm getting used to it now. Gotta
go, it's time for the flowchart class.
P.S. This is written on a wordprocessor. Pretty swell, huh? It's
Don't worry. We do regular camp stuff. We told ghost stories by
the glow of the green computer screens. It was real neat. I don't have
much of a tan 'cause we don't go outside very often. You can't see the
computer screen in the sunlight anyway. That wimp camp I went to last
year fed us weird food too. Lay off, Mom. I'm okay, really.
I'm fine. I'm sleeping enough. I'm eating enough. This is the best
camp ever. We scared the counselor with some phony worm code. It was
real funny. He got mad and yelled. Frederick says it's okay. Can you
send more money? I spent mine on a pocket protector and a box of blank
diskettes. I've got to chip in on the phone bill. Did you know that
you can talk to people on a computer? Give my regards to Dad.
Forget the money for the telephone. We've got a way to not pay.
Sorry I haven't written. I've been learning a lot. I'm real good at
getting onto any computer in the country. It's really easy! I got into
the university's in less than fifteen minutes. Frederick did it in five,
he's going to show me how. Frederick is my bunk partner. He's really
smart. He says that I shouldn't call myself Billy anymore. So, I'm not.
How nice of you to come up on Parents Day. Why'd you get so upset?
I haven't gained that much weight. The glasses aren't real. Everybody
wears them. I was trying to fit in. Believe me, the tape on them is
cool. I thought that you'd be proud of my program. After all, I've made
some money on it. A publisher is sending a check for $30,000. Anyway,
I've paid for the next six weeks of camp. I won't be home until late
Stop treating me like a child. True -- physically I am only ten
years old. It was silly of you to try to kidnap me. Do not try again.
Remember, I can make your life miserable (i.e. - the bank, credit bureau,
and government computers). I am not kidding. O.K.? I won't write again
and this is your only warning. The emotions of this interpersonal
communication drain me.
See what I mean? It's been two weeks since I've heard from my little
boy. What can I do, Mr.Dvorak? I know that it's probably too late to
save my little Billy. But, if by printing these letters you can save
JUST ONE CHILD from a life of programming, please, I beg of you to do so.
Thank you very much.
Sally Gates, Concerned Parent