The pools have been drained, the basketballs have been put away and the mosquitoes have headed back to wherever they came from. Camp '83 is a memory. But before it fades, I owe you a report on what went on in the Virginia hills, where 1,200 Washington kids spent two weeks each, thanks to the generosity of you readers.

I went out to Camp Moss Hollow one Thursday in early August to have a look. It was a good day to choose, for the crop of campers I met was going home the next morning. Would there be impatience to get back to the city? Or would there be wistful sighs at having to leave the country life behind?

Wistful won, by about 100 to 1. Everywhere I went -- to the stables, the pool, the arts and crafts area, the computer study room -- kids told me that they'd never had an experience like camp. They had had fun, they told me, but they had learned, too. As one young man put it, "That's an unbeatable combination."

The amount of money we raised through our Send a Kid to Camp program may not be unbeatable, but it's certainly unbeaten. More than 6,000 Washingtonians contributed $162,084.25 -- almost $50,000 better than any previous year.

It won't come as a surprise that I'll be passing the collection plate again next spring, hoping to top that total. But for now, every one of you who sent a check can be plenty proud of that face in the mirror.

I brought back from Moss Hollow a nice suntan, several dozen new friends and a bunch of gifts the kids gave me (some of which they made in woodworking class). I also brought back the thanks of the campers, which I promised to pass along to the community. Consider it done, kids. See you next year.