Friday, August 27, 2010
Times have changed
When I was just eight years old, I went to Girl Scout camp for the first time. I was a little homesick and got eat up a bit by mosquitoes, but it was a generally good experience. I went a few more times in the following years and had a wonderful time. I learned so much there.
During college I decided to go back to camp--this time as a camp counselor. Now, camp counseling is not a summer job one takes for the money. I think we were paid around $800 for the whole summer. Even then, that was mere pocket change.
Being a camp counselor was one of the most adventurous, fantastic, and challenging things I've ever done. I absolutely loved my childhood camp, so I applied at the SE LA Girl Scout Council. That summer, I became "Ribbit". My specialties among the campers included canoe instruction, critter and plant identification, nature trail guide, and singing camp songs.
At the start of my third summer the director decided it was time to blaze a trail through camp to the Tangipahoa River. So, for a week before the official start of camp, we counselors, armed with bushwhackers, machetes, saws, and axes, cleared a winding path. At one spot we even had to have the camp ranger cut a tree down to serve as a "bridge" across a small waterway. For the next few days as we completed the trail, we had to cross on that tree carrying all those tools and equipment. At the end of the week we emerged on the bank of the river and set up camp for the night. The following morning we tubed down the river before officially starting camp already very sunburned.
The photo above is the crossing where we initially had a tree. The bridge there is relatively new. The camp is Camp Whispering Pines in SE Louisiana. It is a fantastic camp.
This sounds like a miserable week, right? It was amazing. True, it was hard, blistering work, but the memories I have from that experience I will cherish forever. The sense of accomplishment was surpassed only by the spirit of adventure present. What an experience!
There were many other things that we did at camp that I wouldn't trade for anything.
That is why I am so disappointed that I cannot, in good conscience, send my own children to camp (or Girl Scouts).
There was an innocence back then that I don't see in today's children. I see it in my own because we have worked to maintain it in our home.
Movies, television, video games, music, etc. have all changed drastically. Shows that are PG or PG-13 now would have been R back then. Once we were watching Bambi with the children. I repeat, BAMBI (for heaven's sake). For the commercial break we were treated to a public service announcement featuring teens imploring their parents to talk to them about sex. During BAMBI!! Seriously??
Viagra, Extends (sp?), diet aid commercials, ads for horror movies or shows---it's apparently all fair game at any time of day and during any programming.
Let's just say that now my kids know what to do when we holler to look away while diving for the remote.
I do have acquaintances and relatives who would shake their heads and condescendingly inform us that:
1. The kids know about it already. No they don't. We homeschool and their experiences are censored. That's our job.
2. They will find out about it eventually and if they learn now they won't be shocked later (presumably in college). Well, heck. Someone may introduce them to drugs later. Maybe I should inject just a smidge now. Someone may introduce cigarettes later so I should let them smoke one a day now. Someone may get them addicted to porn later so I should buy them each a pin-up now. I am certain they will get drunk in college so I should get them drunk occasionally now so they know what to expect!!!??? I could go on. The fact that Planned Parenthood addresses Girl Scout events is also rather disturbing IMHO.
*HUMBLE OPINION ALERT*
I believe that it is my job to foster the natural innocence in my children. It is also my job to inform them, at an appropriate age, of any potential "sins" they may encounter and to teach them that true friends do not encourage their friends to gravely sin. It is my job to instruct them on the nature of sin--its effects and consequences. I completely disagree that the probability of "sin exposure" necessitates "early sin education/experience".
Give me a break. God save us from ourselves.