As I write this post, it’s almost the end of July and my daughter is about to come home from her first full session at sleepaway camp. While I didn’t get as nuts like I did when she went for 5 days at the end of last summer, I am kind of coming close. I’m bothered. I’m unsettled. We’ve only gotten a few quick missives and I am not sure if she’s happy. She finally appeared in some of the camp photos but only seemed to hang out with one girl continuously. I analyze her expressions. I squint to see if I can find her in the background of camp photos for her unit. She wasn’t in many group shots and she hasn’t mentioned any of her other campers and counselors in her letters.She’s only asked about her brothers, her favorite stuffed animal, and the plant growing on our balcony which we call “We Hair” (I’m not going to explain that one). I don’t feel like I know if she’s okay. Why I am so unsettled? Because I was bullied my first session of that very same camp when I was the same age as my daughter. My Wish for My Daughter’s First Full Summer Sleepaway Camp Experience
I didn’t tell anyone I was being bullied. Not my mother in a letter or my counselor. I was miserable. There was one mean girl in the bunk and then two other girls who did what she said. They pulled the ties off my sleeping bag. 4 Years later one of the other two girls apologized to me, but I’m still bitter over that first session. I had come back for the third session of camp that same summer (my grandmother paid for it) and had a totally different time. That was the reason why I kept coming back to camp, because the girls that I was with that second time I was there that summer weren’t bullies. It also taught me to actively try to make friends so I wouldn’t feel alone.
While I’m sure my daughter had a great time, I’m worried that she may have kept to herself. I’m worried that maybe she didn’t find more than one person she liked to talk to. I’m hoping that she comes home as happy and as exhilarated as she did after 5 days last summer. I hope she comes back feeling great about herself. I hope she comes back with more independence. She’s the middle kid and a sweetheart, but my biggest fear is that she won’t get attention. My boys are so hard and she’s so easy — it’s time that she got some time to really find herself. But most of all, I hope if someone did give her a hard time that she spoke up to an adult. I know that there are so many anti-bullying movements and ways to teach kids to stand up for themselves and I know things have changed. The camp has been wonderful (if you really want to know the name of the camp, it’s on my social media) and if there was any hint of bullying in her letters I would have called them immediately and it would have been dealt with. I know that the counselors most likely would be looking to make sure this didn’t happen. I wish I had tools to deal with bullying when I was there that first session. I just hope her first full session was one that makes her want to keep going back to sleepaway camp. Let’s hope I need to pull my checkbook out again for next year.
Photo courtesy of Joel Kaufman, https://www.chapter1photography.com/