One of those "Dear Jen" letters...
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
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. We 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 word processor. Pretty swell, huh? It's spell
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
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 August.
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, Jenny? 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