The Boy Scouts of America were a big part of my life when I was young. The uniforms were kind of dorky and I don’t remember any of the knots, but I think the lessons in civic responsibility and leadership were important ones. Spending a weekend every month in the woods also taught me independence and self-reliance at a pretty young age.
In the summers this meant an entire week away from my parents, kind of a big deal at eight or nine years old. I look back fondly at nights around the fire, shooting the shit with good buddies, hours away from home.
These camps were all male, of course. Only in the movies is there a Girl Scout camp a short swim across the lake. If given the option, would I have rather gone to co-ed camp, especially once I got to my early teens? Of course. Would I have gone completely on my own, without any wingmen? Probably not.
That’s exactly what Kayla did though, not once, but twice this summer. She’s been attending the Windham-Tolland 4-H camp every year for a while now, often with no idea ahead of time if she will know anybody there. The camp actually goes out of it’s way to segregate people from prior friends to promote socialization with new people. She shares a small cottage with three other girls for a whole week, strangers from all over the county. I give her a lot of credit for this.
I give myself a lot of credit for not stressing out more about the co-ed nature of the camp. It didn’t bother me much in past years, but now that she is fifteen and looks eighteen, things are a little different. Last summer she returned home with a new Facebook friend, an eighteen year old counselor that she eventually un-friended when he began to get creepy.
Ironically, it was the fact that she has a semi-serious boyfriend now that made me feel better. I knew that any wannabe huntsmen trying to talk her into late night nature walks would be quickly rebuked.
The amount and variety of activities available to the kids is impressive. There is horseback riding on certain weeks, archery, kayaking, sewing, swimming, arts and crafts, cooking, and a host of others. The dance and music campers put on a variety show on the last night of the week.
It’s a very good experience for her, and one that she really seems to enjoy. The first week she won a “helping hand” award for her willingness to volunteer for after meal cleanup, something she was very proud of that we are hopeful will lead to similar behaviors at home. I’m thinking of printing off some certificates as encouragement.