All week #1 has been a Christian Drama Camp and the mom in me didn't feel safe discussing it on the Internet. But, since we are picking her up in a few hours I can finally unload my feelings.
I may have made a few mistakes with this. She had a pretty bad camp experience when she was 8 at a different Christian camp where her counselor had snuck off with her boyfriend. The girls in the cabin followed her and saw them kissing. This really messed up my #1. Thankfully, after nearly a year, she seemed better. She had felt guilty and shameful, as if she was the one behaving inappropriately! And, did I mention there were only 3 other girls in her cabin that week and one of them was so homesick she cried or had a temper tantrum if the counselor would try to talk or sit next to any of the other girls.
Soooooo, fast forward 3 years and let's try again at a camp she is more familiar with. She really wanted to go to drama camp even though the ages listed were 12-14 (she's eleven), the camp cleared her to go. I thought some of the older girls would take her under their wings and act like a big sister to her.
I've been known to be naive at times.
Actually what they've done is speak harshly to her and ignore her. They tell her to "Move, my friend is sitting there" and she said the worst thing is that everyone besides one other girl and her counselor say "Oh my God" constantly. She wants to talk to them about it, but she had decided they think she's is too young to know anything. And, she is (in my opinion) devastated to be reminded, even at Christian camp, it is uncool to be Christlike.
We were expecting this in Middle School, so you can imagine our disappointment when it happened on her vacation in what we all considered a safe place.
I also found out why they have age ranges. It is so they can administer the correct amount of sleep deprivation for that particular age group. She goes to bed after midnight and gets up at 6:30. There is no going back to the cabin to rest unless all the girls go and maybe that is from 1-1:30pm. They must do all the same activities together with no free time on their own. Isn't that a ton of fun when you're in the same cabin with 6 other "teenage drama queens"? Sorry. Now, I'm being mean.
No wonder in the Bible first-borns got the double blessing. They deserve it after all the "I guess that wasn't such a good idea to send her to drama camp with teenagers she doesn't know" mistakes!
I will tell you this. Every mommy instinct in me wanted to bring her home early. I would not have even known any of this if we had not picked her up for a few hours to attend a special event at our church. She was exhausted, had a headache and was holding back tears (unsuccessfully). She put on a good act at first (she is in drama camp, you know!), but I saw through the facade and when she broke down she said she didn't want to tell us so we didn't get upset and worry about her. We prayed with her and encouraged her to address rudeness in a polite way and to understand that God tells us life is going to be hard, but He'll never leave us. I felt peace as we drove away and as much as it hurts, sometimes it is good to know you're kids are having to learn the tough stuff and it will develop a stronger character in them.
I think she is going to come home with a greater understanding of what being a good leader is about and hopefully, she will be even more compassionate about reaching out to kids who seem lonely and rejected. We will not focus on the bad stuff, but I will encourage her to ask God what He wanted her to learn from the experience.
And, then I'll take my own advice and ask myself what does God want me to learn from this experience?