Billy, a good, normal ten-year-old boy, and his parents set down to select a summer camp for Billy. There were the usual camps with swimming, canoeing, games, singing by the campfire. There were sports camps and specialty camps for weight reduction, music, military camps and camps that specialized in Tibetan knot tying.
Billy pulled a brochure out of his pocket. It was for a Computer Camp!
These are a few of his letters home:
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 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.
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. 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 I've got to chip in on the phone bill. Did you know that you can talk to people on a computer? It's only text now, but they say someday, we'll be able to transmit pictures. 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, and he's going to show me how. Frederick is my bunk partner. He's really smart. He says that computers are the wave of the future and that someday, lots of people will even have them in their homes.
I keep looking at how long and boring the way we have to write all our programs for the computer. And I can't help thinking there has to be a better, faster way. Perhaps when I return home, you and Dad will consider letting me use the garage as a workplace, so I won't be disturbed.
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 $11,000. 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.
That was the last letter the Mother ever received. Billy did eventually return home, but things were never quite the same after that. I would like to personally thank Mrs. Sally Gates for sharing this bit of history with us.