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Pen Pals
Photo: Studiomill
“Hey, my teenage daughter isn’t the only one!” I thought to myself when I read the article, “Teens ditch texting for ‘old school’ ways of communicating.”1 It tells of two teen girls who met at camp and became friends. When they parted ways, they agreed to stay in touch—but not through the typical forms of teen communication. No Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or texting. Instead, they wanted to copy what their moms and grandmas had done when they met a friend at camp: they decided to become pen pals.

The girls take their time writing, spending about 20 minutes on each letter. “You want your letters to be fun and interesting,” one of them said. “And to really show what you are feeling and going through in your life.”

Having a pen pal is a great summer activity for any kid old enough to write. It causes them to slow down. It teaches them how to express their feelings through words. It encourages them to use their imagination when sharing a story. It improves their penmanship. And it shows the receiver that someone cared enough to write a letter, address an envelope, and mail it.

Although there are some online sites where kids can find pen pals, unfortunately, we live in a world that can be unsafe for our kids. So here are a few ideas that are safe ones.


Start with your own extended family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who live far away make great pen pals. First ask if they’re interested, so your child isn’t disappointed if they don’t receive letters back.

Next, think about friends. Do your kids have classmates who are leaving for the summer? They could stay in touch as pen pals. Also, encourage kids to become pen pals with new friends they meet at youth camp or camp meeting.

Consider your friends’ kids. If you’ve stayed in touch with friends from your school days, perhaps their kids can become pen pals with your kids.

Also, look in your church. Does it have members who are currently missionaries who would welcome letters? Another idea is to have your kid’s church school class adopt another church school class in a foreign country. That way, they can send letters as a group.

Finally, what about having Jesus as a pen pal? Encourage your child to write to Jesus this summer. Let them chose and buy a journal and special pen. Then give them quiet time each day to sit and read the letter Jesus has written them—the Bible—and encourage them to write back in their journal.

Our daughter has a pen pal—a good friend she won’t see for two years. He’s serving as a missionary and doesn’t have access to a phone or email. They exchange letters, photos, postcards, and even drawings. And I always smile when she runs back from the mailbox exclaiming, “I got a letter!”

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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