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Summer Camp Bullying: Teaching Addie How to Deal with Bullying

Summer Camp BullyingAddie has been struggling with summer camp all summer long.  At the beginning it was just a struggle to get her to summer camp but once she was there she enjoyed the time she spent there.  Here lately the entire time has been difficult.  Picking Addie up from summer camp is just as hard as dropping her off at summer camp here lately. Meaning, everything about summer camp has turned difficult.

A few days after we realized Addie wasn’t enjoying summer camp as much as we thought she would, Casey pulled her aside and asked her what was going on.  Addie began to sob uncontrollably.  It was the wheezy, snotty, gasping type of sobbing as she explained to Casey that she missed her family—more specifically, she missed me.

Casey made a deal with Addie that she would go to summer camp for an hour or two on non-swimming days and that she would have to go all day for field trip days and swimming days.  That was alright with Addie at first, but once again a few days later Addie was done with summer camp and she didn’t even want to go on swimming days.  For Addie not to want to go swimming means that something was really wrong with summer camp.  The kid loves to swim.  She begs me to go swimming almost daily.  As far as we knew, however, Addie was just struggling because she missed her family.

I picked Addie up from summer camp a few days ago and from the moment I saw her, which was about 100 feet away, I could tell she was not happy.  She had a sad and angry look on her face.  As soon as she saw me she ran right past me and to the car.

We climbed in the car and I asked her how she was doing.  She was unhappy and dejected.  I kept pressing her until she told me that none of the other kids would let her play with them.  The camp had designated times where the kids divide into self-made groups and play games.  Addie went with the friends she had been playing with earlier in the camp, but those kids told her she wasn’t allowed to play with them anymore.  Addie couldn’t find another group that would let her play, so instead she sat by herself and played a card game against herself.

I could tell the other kids had hurt Addie and that sending her back to summer camp would be pretty difficult.  Addie is such a sensitive girl the summer camp bullying type of stuff really affects her.  I’d like to tell her that none of it matters and that if her friends won’t allow her to play with them that they weren’t ever her friends in the first place and it’s there loss, but that advice wouldn’t do Addie any good because she feels things differently than I did when I was a kid.  If that had happened when I was kid, I wouldn’t ever talk to those kids again.  I’d move on because that’s the way I was–no second chances.  But Addie isn’t like that.  It burns her up inside to think that someone else doesn’t like her.  That there is something wrong with her that somehow she has caused her friends to turn on her and that’s difficult for me to know that she feels that way.

The more I have thought about what is going on with Addie the more I realize how in over my head I am as a parent and that this parenting stuff is really something that is learned on the fly after considering the options and making the best decisions possible for the child.  In the end hopefully the advice and decisions I’ve made and given to Addie work to her favor and get her through her sure to be difficult at times younger years.

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