July 28, 2016
Once each term, the 9th grade Senior Campers (7-11) read letters that they write to the girls side of camp. They are often insightful and always heartfelt. Sadly, I miss them as I am with the boys when this happens, but Susie Ma’am always returns and shares the best thoughts and stories.
Earlier this week, she heard a story that I thought you should hear.
The camper first came to camp as a very shy 5th grader. As you know, 5th grade can be hard – social interactions become more important and intricate. These are the first years that “mean girl” behavior can show up.
This shy camper’s 5th grade year had been a tough one. She arrived at camp a little gun-shy and reluctant to make herself emotionally available to cabin-mates. When she did reach out, however, she was funny and playful. But for every delightful moment, we also saw moments of homesickness or avoidance.
That first summer she came for two weeks. After camp, she initially signed up to return, but had second thoughts after she was home a couple of weeks. She was remembering her homesick moments and these memories started to grow in her mind. When she declared that she no longer wanted to return to camp, her mom called Susie Ma’am to tell her about the reversal and ask her advice.
Susie ma’am realized that her camper’s concerns were very temporary. Homesickness can seem like a huge problem, but it is a temporary speed bump in the road toward maturation – a necessary step toward being an independent person, college student and adult.
After hearing the mom’s explanation, Susie Ma’am thought about the amazing progress her daughter had made earlier that summer and said, “There is no way I will allow you not to send your daughter back”.
So she returned for 2 weeks the next two years and for 3 weeks the last two.
After reading her letter to camp, the camper – now a confident and poised 15 year old – took the time to recount this story to Susie Ma’am.
“You were exactly right. You knew what camp could do for me and you did not let me give up. I was stuck in my head and worried a lot. Coming back to camp helped me grow and now I feel ready for the world. I am so glad I came back. Thank you!”
As you can imagine, Susie Ma’am went to bed that night with a huge smile on her face.
PS The photo has absolutely nothing to do with the women of 7-11, but I really like this picture. It is from the Letterman overnight.