Huffington Post Blogger and New York Post Writer Tina Traster Shares Scary Stories About Summer Camp (Opinion Column)

A mother stresses over her daughter’s first summer camp experience — amid fond memories of her own



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In my day, I recall camp director “Uncle Bill” bringing his dog-and-pony slide show to our living room. Buffed and tan, he narrated as he clicked the slide projector, showing us idyllic summer fun. I’m not even sure my parents ever thought to ask questions like “Where is the nearest hospital” or “Does the camp allow religious proselytizing?” They were probably more interested in where the campers came from and whether they could pay the tuition in installments.

I think of sleep-away camp as the most unadulterated part of childhood. Everything important that happened to me by the time I turned 19 happened there. I had a trunk-full of life lessons to bring forth into adulthood. I made mistakes and tasted freedom and learned to know parts of myself I may not have known until much later on. I wrote home often. I don’t think my parents ever worried too much — unless they did and I wasn’t aware of it.

Today, parents want answers to questions that are not always answerable. You can do background checks on counselors and still end up with a child molester. You can “separate” the boys and girls but you can’t stop raging libidinous adolescents. (Everyone remembers bunk raids — and what would camp be without them?) You can tell me my daughter won’t eat junk food, but I know it isn’t true.

Parents are accustomed to guarantees and assurances because our children are so often in controlled, structured settings. Going out to play isn’t even a concept. And as unnerving as it might be, going to a sleep-away camp does not come with a ready script. Which I think is good. A little bit of surprise and wonder helps children figure out who they are.

Tina Traster writes the “Burb Appeal” column for the New York Post and “The Great Divide” blog for the Huffington Post. Read more of her work at www.tinatraster.com.

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