My husband reads the Wall Street Journal in about an hour, most days. I peruse it in a nanosecond, most days. But when something catches my eye I settle in for some good content. Recently a blurb about a rite of passage, summer camp, caught my eye. “Parents scrutinize photos for clues.” I read on.
According to this article, many camps nowadays have a photo gallery where parents can log-in to watch their kids. Some parents even tell their kids ahead of time to give signals such as a thumbs-up when photographers are hovering so they’ll know their child is “alright.” And if little Suzie wasn’t chosen to be the captain of the kickball team or is wearing the flip-flops of someone else, parents can send “polite” emails to counselors in order to rectify such situations. Some parents set their alarms for the middle of the night to check the “updated gallery”.
Surely this is a hoax. Have I been in some time warp and it’s really April and not August and the WSJ is making some not-funny joke about this beloved institution? This just sounds so wrong to me on so many levels! (The least of which is how utterly Orwellian it is!) Shouldn’t children know that at least somewhere on the planet their every move isn’t going to be scrutinized by someone? Wouldn’t summer camp be the perfect place to let a kid just be … a kid?
Attending GA Camp was the pinnacle of my summertime fun as a child. GA is Baptist-talk for “Girls Auxiliary.” If you were a little girl Baptist you were a GA and went to GA camp. If you were a little boy Baptist, you were a “Royal Ambassador” and went to RA Camp. The camp I attended was located somewhere north of Greenville, SC, in an area lush and woodsy. It smelled green. At the time it didn’t matter that woodsy meant tick-infested. Or that lush meant slippery moss. Or that green meant poison ivy. Nobody died.
Days spent at GA camp were simple and carefree. Upon arrival girls were assigned cabins and the most critical event of the week happened in the first 5 minutes – whether or not you landed a top bunk. After that it was a breeze. Revelry woke us up and taps put us to sleep. In between were hours of pure bliss. There was a happy routine of craft time, play time, skit time, slipping and sliding in-the-creek time with a good dose of chapel thrown in to satisfy all the Baptists back at home. Accommodations were crudely built cabins with slamming screen doors as the only ventilation. It was hot as hades and we loved it. The stuff our parents had packed for us mostly stayed packed. We could wear a favorite shirt and shorts “set” five days in a row and nobody cared. Topics of conversation were endless but always came back to boys. It was a week of living-in-the-moment with not a thought for anything or anyone other than the next skit or who might be called on to pray before the next meal. The last thing on our minds was what was happening back at home. We were free; supervised, yes; but in our little minds, we were free.
But now, according to the news article, those days are gone. Camps have sold out to the man, er … the mama.
As I finished reading and was tsk, tsking about these helicopter parents, I popped over to Facebook to get other news from the not-so-esoteric side of the current events spectrum. There was a post by a friend. Nothing surprising there but she had posted a picture of her son who was away … at camp! In the photograph he was shirtless and sitting on a rock; he looked fit and healthy. She said he looked like he missed his mama. I said if looks could kill that camp would’ve had a dead photographer on their hands.
Parenting trends come and go.
Social media touches us daily and for the most part, it’s good, I think.
But summer camp! Ah … that’s something better left untouched.