Friday, January 06, 2006

Do As I Say

I was never a huge fan of day camp when I was a child. I despised athletics and many outdoor activities, I was just as happy playing alone or surreptitiously listening to the adults talking in the next room as I was playing with other children, and, given that I was a pretty "good" child and didn't hit other kids or talk back, I didn't really like being told what to do in a non-school, non-home environment. Besides, I had more important things to do at home, like sit on the floor and play with pots and pans.

Now, as an adult, of course I see the benefit of sending a child to day camp. It's nice to get a reprieve from watching the same episode of The Muppet Show five or six times in a row. Plus, most children really seem to like it. I was the exception.

When I was a youngish child, probably about five, I attended one such summer day camp. I don't remember it being too terrible, given that there were lots of arts and crafts and we were too little to be forced into any really competitive sports.

One day, however, the counselors were taking the children on a little mini field trip. We were all going to pile into a big van and then drive to a nearby lake. Ugh. I was an urban child; I didn't like wading into any water I couldn't see through. I went to go and put on my jelly sandals, so that at least all the microscopic beings living in the mud wouldn't latch onto my feet and suck my blood.

"No, no, Arabella," one of the counselors told me. "We don't need shoes. We're just going right to the lake."

"But I want to wear shoes," I told her. "And these shoes are waterproof."

"No. None of us are wearing shoes." She gestured towards all the naive barefoot children, unaware of the torments that awaited their smooth soles.

I looked down at her thong-clad feet. "But you're wearing shoes."

"I need to wear shoes, because I have to drive."

It struck me then that her thin little flip-flops probably didn't provide much more support than her own bare feet, but I relented.

Naturally, the counselors just didn't want to deal with a dozen tiny people and two dozen tiny shoes. Inevitably, children would need help getting them on and off, and shoes would be lost to the lake or left in the van, children would cry, and parents would get mad. I would have been just fine taking care of my own shoes, though, and was plenty pissed that I was being lumped into a category with more careless children.

If the camp counselors didn't want to deal with shoes, I thought, then perhaps they should have chosen to do other things with their lives. Cooking school, maybe, or retail. I don't know, something not involving CHILDREN AND LAKES.


Anonymous TB said...

"She gestured towards all the naive barefoot children, unaware of the torments that awaited their smooth soles."

Hee! I used to go barefoot for the entire summer break coming back in September with soles like shoe leather. Nowadays, I rarely do it, unless I'm on vacation.

And I can't stand wading into lakes and having mud squish under my feet! Gross.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Great story! I'm all about the *Jiffy Feet.

*Jiffy Feet: Dirty feet that are a result of running around barefoot. Often seen on children in redneck jiffy stores or gas stations.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

You just never know what's going to be lurking at the bottom of a lake. At least with the ocean, you're on solid ground. This is why we have aqua socks now.

I think jellies made a brief comeback recently, didn't they?

12:48 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I can't imagine anyone taking little kids to a lake without asking for sandals or water shoes or something to protect feet from glass fragments, etc. As a kid, I was barefoot 24-7 in the summertime and I loved it. My sisters and I played in the creek behind our house and my feet were in mud constantly. LOVED IT!

1:36 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

The only day camp I ever went to was math camp. I'm not kidding. I went one day, and then for some reason never had to go again. I don't remember complaining about it. Perhaps my mom was overcome by the site of so much dandruff and pallid skin.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

I loved camp, when I was a girl. I tormented the counselors.

I see teachers at daycare all the time that don't seem to like children...who was their career counselor?

12:25 AM  

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