What do a Frappuccino and a phone number have in common?


The answer is nothing, at least nothing yet. But that could all change soon, and I sure hope it does.

You see, if you know me or have been around me during this first chunk of summer for the past two summers, you know I have a dream-come-true and a hot-button issue simultaneously. I have a camp-loving daughter who is so confident in her place in our hearts and our home that she goes off to spend an amazing month basking in the sun and fun of overnight camp, all the while accidentally letting her camp-loving mom, doting dad and absolutely adorable, adoring little brother slip off her radar. (Though I do find gratitude in that she does not hide from the camp photographer and gives us huge, happy grins near nightly. Phew!)

But she doesn’t write letters. She can’t quite pinpoint why during the inquisition that has naturally occurred the past two summers upon her return. After all, she is a kind, loving daughter and sister, there’s no doubt of that. She loves us, we love her – our family chemistry is warm and fulfilling.

And yet, the same set of labels, stationery and stamps we created before her first summer remain tucked in their ‘I Love Camp’ folder for the third consecutive year.

So the dream-come-true part is that she loves camp as much as I always did and she’s gaining the confidence, strength and amazing friendships the luckiest of lucky ‘camp people’ get from their time away. But the hot-button issue – no writing is not ok! No sign of life, so expression of love and zero show of gratitude to her parents for giving her this experience. Grateful Girl’s daughter typically shows her gratitude, so this absence is tough to swallow.

Of course we don’t expect thank you notes from camp or lengthy diatribes of her thoughts and feelings each day, but simply some contact, or ‘proof of life’ as the camp-parent mantra goes when clicking through hundreds of uploaded pics each night.

Letter-writing Incentive Plan of 2019

So this is where the Frappuccino and a phone number come into play – and the hubby and I are considering this a stroke of genius.

As a general practice, we aren’t much for bribes. We’ve always parented with the expectation that our kids do what’s asked of them (most of the time, anyway) and they know they’ll be rewarded with a happy home and grateful parents who give generously because they do what’s asked of them (most of the time).

But… when I needed the girl’s undivided attention to get the camp stuff labeled, organized and packed in a way in which she’d know what she had and I would feel she’d done her part, a Frappuccino was dangled as a prize. And it worked!

Now a phone number, I know this sounds odd. But this is the ultimate test for us because if this isn’t incentive enough to write, my hopes and dreams of camp letters will be forever dashed.

Hubby and I established the Letter-writing Incentive Plan of 2019. Our girl doesn’t have a cell phone yet, but she knows it’s coming when she gets home from camp/as she enters middle school. And wouldn’t it be fun to have the number to give her friends and counselors before leaving camp and heading home? And wouldn’t it be awesome if the cell phone number line on the camp directory wasn’t blank, only to house an email address? And wouldn’t it be awesome if she earned the privilege of getting the phone and the number by realizing that for just four weeks of the year, she has to support us emotionally (just a little) by a few quick sentences scribbled on a piece of paper and mailed?

So we’re ‘gifting’ her the 847 area code, and we’re counting the three required post cards that come home once a week (if you’re lucky!) and then with each letter or postcard to any of the three of us in our home, she’ll receive a letter from us with a digit of her new cell phone number.

Yep, seven points of contact in four weeks, and she’ll know the number for her first-ever cellphone before she packs those duffels and heads home!

She seemed motivated when presented with this plan, she really did. We’re ready with the number, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll get to share it with her over the course of the next four weeks. Only time – and the U.S. Postal Service – will tell, but the Letter-writing Incentive Plan of 2019 has launched and now we wait.


Do you ‘bribe’ your kiddos? Does it work? Share with us your ingenious incentive plans here or on Facebook. #grateful



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