Are Kids Different Today?

And by different, I mean better.

When I told my mother that we were signing Andrew up for summer camp at the park and rec department, she was skeptical.

“You know, you went to day camp one year.”

“Yes, Mom, I remember.”

“Do you remember that you only went for three days before begging me not to take you back?”

“Yes, Mom, I remember.”

I didn’t tell my mother, but I remember pretty vividly. I remember a day when I was wearing a yellow, button-down, short sleeve shirt. I had picked it out myself in the store.

I remember the other kids saying they couldn’t tell if I was a boy or a girl, and refusing to play with me. I remember that the teenage camp counselors saw, but didn’t say or do anything.

I reminded my mother that Andrew is a very different little boy than I was, but I didn’t come right out and say, “Well, Mom, I hated camp because the other kids gay bashed me and I was afraid to tell you because your mounting shame and disapproval of the young man I was clearly turning into was completely obvious, even when I was eight.”

I didn’t say that because it would have been hurtful, and unnecessary. My mother and I went down that road long ago.

But camp seems different today.

Today, when we arrive at camp, the teenage counselors all say good morning to my son. And most of them say good morning to me, too. They’re shockingly professional. When I pick Andrew up at the end of the day, they let me know how his day went. If they need to let me know about something that didn’t go well, they make sure Andrew is out of earshot so he doesn’t get embarrassed in front of the other kids. (The teenage counselors actually do a better job of this than the adult camp director.)

Last Friday, my husband and I had to draw straws between taking Andrew to camp and taking the dog to her vet exam. Austin surprised me by jumping at the chance to take the dog to the vet. Later, he said he just didn’t want to drop Andrew off at camp. I know he had a similar camp experience to mine, and it was hard for me to convince him that it really seems different today.

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About Mark

I'm a stay-at-home dad with a husband and two young sons. When I'm not driving the kids to school or camp or swimming lessons or cleaning up bathroom accidents, I try to remember to update my blog.

Posted on August 5, 2011, in Life, Parenting. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m sorry you had such a terrible time at camp.

    I hated day camp as a kid. I always begged my mom to let me stay home and read, but she had to work. Camp was always so much worse than school. First, most of the activities were sports related and the one thing I did not like about school (and I loved school) was PE class. Second, kids in camp were much crueler than during the school year because there wasn’t as much supervision. I was a nerdy, shy little girl – easy prey for mean girls. Horrible! Third, the worst camp I went to was at a local elementary school. It was horrible because there was no pool in which to cool off. Of course swimming was (and still is) the only sport I enjoy and could actually do well.

    I think camps do a much better job now screening the teens who will be counselors – making sure they will interact well with the children. Anti-bullying campaigns have helped kids and teens alike be more sensitive to others (although not in all cases). Society has changed some – become more accepting of differences. And I there are more options for camp. My kids have been to camps that feature music and art, which they enjoy and which I would have preferred as a kid. Ironically, this year they begged to go to a camp with archery, hiking, horse back riding and all sorts of outdoorsy things. Of course I signed them up.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Jennifer. You’re right, society has changed. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we make much progress, but things are definitely moving. I would have liked a day camp with swimming, too! It’s also the only sport I enjoy.

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