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
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 spellchecked too.
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
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, 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