A CAMPFIRE CHEER AS LOUD AS mountain thunder for Peter Carlson's rendering of life at Goshen Scout Camps {"The Call of the Wild," August 5}. Mr. Carlson's scout who ponders camp memories 20 years later is me. Four summers I went, and I did most of my substantive "growing up" during those four weeks.

Now a thirtysomething science teacher, I look back and realize how much of my self-reliance, interests and convictions -- the stuff of character in adulthood -- are owed to those times. This is one of the few essentially American experiences still available for today's boys. Send 'em off! It won't take them 20 years to know it did them some good. GLENN C. JACKSON Charlottesville

I TRULY ENJOYED THE ARTICLE "THE Call of the Wild." I was glad to see an adult interested enough in kids doing something "innocent" and positive to devote a week to them. I am a former schoolteacher, and I think children are the most precious people in the world. I appreciate reading something that reconfirms what I've known for 20 of my 26 years -- that kids are great. AMY SHELL Merrifield

HAVING ATTENDED GOSHEN SCOUT Camps the same week as Peter Carlson, I was appalled at the tone of his article. My strong impression is the sum total of Carlson's scouting career is the six days he spent at Goshen, given his overworked fixation about latrines and meals of questionable origin.

Every summer camp is different. From year to year, scoutmasters see growth in some scouts, stagnation in others, but try to make it a worthwhile experience for all. Adult leadership is there to intercede whenever a mistake surpasses being "just a lesson." Young males today need every possible opportunity to learn self-reliance, a sense of personal achievement, teamwork and respect for flag and country. The scouting program provides that. JOHN A. NORTON Annandale

Please address letters to: 20071, The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number and are subject to editing.