I’m away at sleepover camp and have an issue I can’t seem to resolve on my own. I’ve spoken with my head staff, but they think I’m capable of dealing with it alone, and that’s all they say to me. My friend suggested I write you.
I am in charge of a tent with 10 seven-year-old girls. They’re good girls, but they’re little, and for most, this is their first time away from home. I have been coming to this camp since I was that young, so I can relate. And I can see their future if they are anything like me and end up loving camp life.
I have two other staff in my tent, who are both first year staff. One has never been here before and I can tell she isn’t happy. She’s not a camp person. At night, she finds a quiet spot and spends hours on the phone with her mom, looking at TikTok videos, and chatting with her friends who aren’t here.
The other has a chip on her shoulder and nobody knows why. She’s been at camp for a few years as a camper and was always happy, as far as I knew. But she is a terrible staffer!
Neither of them help me get the girls up in the morning, dressed, teeth brushed and hair brushed and braided. We are always late for breakfast. They don’t help me get the girls to clean up the cabin, so we always lose the cleanup competition. The kids are cranky because I’m losing my patience with them because I’m exhausted, frustrated and spent.
I’m not getting any help from my senior staff and I’m miserable. This is NOT what I signed up for. What do I do?
Crabby Camp Counsellor
Grrrrrr! I wish I could call the camp and speak to the director on your behalf. Just because someone is capable of something doesn’t mean they should be pushed to the point of breaking. Certainly not underpaid teenagers.
You need support, and you need to talk to your head staff. But I think you need to talk to them with someone by your side. Is there anyone at camp, your level or higher, a sibling, family member or friend, who could be by your side at that meeting? If not, and if it’s gone this far, is it possible for a parent to come up and support you?
My concern is that this situation isn’t going to get better, you’re going to get more and more frustrated and tired, the children aren’t going to have a good summer, and you’re going to quit, which will ruin camp for you forever.
From my position, it’s not rocket science. Get rid of the counsellors who aren’t being helpful or useful, and get someone else to work with you. That’s the end goal – for your well-being, and the happiness of your campers. Good luck!
My sister never married or had children. She chose the latter but probably would prefer to find a partner, as I believe she’s lonely. She has a mediocre job, but lives her life on her terms. Other than being alone, I think she’s fairly happy.
Unfortunately, she seems to get frustrated easily whenever I talk about my kids. I have four, so they’re often the topic of conversation.
How do I maintain a relationship with her?
Two things: First, try to talk about your children less. I know that’s not easy, believe me. Two, ask your sister why she gets so frustrated. Listen to her response.
Then tell her how you feel. Hopefully, you two can find the sweet spot and continue your sibling relationship amicably.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman who, as a teenager, got a tattoo of her boyfriend’s name, and then altered it for her next serious boyfriend (June 12):
“I would have shamed the lovely lady with the tattoo in the ‘special spot.’”
Lisi – Really?!? The letter writer is the woman with the tattoo. She asked me for advice on what to do with her tattoo, and how to get over the hurt of losing the two men who meant the most to her. This comment is neither helpful nor relevant.
I’m not sure how long I’d be doling out advice if, instead of empathy and understanding, I resorted to shaming and blaming.
FEEDBACK Regarding the neighbours with a hole in their hedge (June 7):
Reader – “May I suggest a trellis arch, with a clematis (no thorns) and a gate, so the children can play.”
Lisi – Great idea! Practical and pretty.