Soooooo, Teen Talk Tuesday took a brief hiatus in July, but for good reason: the teen in my home was gone for the majority of the month. First on our family’s vacation to South Carolina, followed by many overnights with friends, and finally a big time summer sleepaway camp in Asheville, NC. This week, my girl is sharing lessons from that camp life and how other kids can break out of their bubbles and do things that scare them.
You went to a 2-week sleepaway camp this summer in Asheville, NC. What went in to that decision to go?
I had gone to Hollymont the summer after 2nd grade and loved it, so I missed it a lot—the fun I’d had there and meeting new friends. I had some really great memories from the first year I went and I hoped I would get to see some people again. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve had dreams about going back to Hollymont. Many times. When Mom and Dad said I could return this summer, I was just so excited.
The night before I dropped you off, you were pretty quiet. What was going through your mind?
I was scared of being alone. That’s one of my biggest fears. That nobody would want to talk to me or be around me or try to be my friend. I think that’s what scared me the most. I was also scared that I was going to get my schedule messed up or go to the wrong skill. You know, do something stupid. So, yeah, the reason I was quiet is just because I was scared.
A few days into camp, I began seeing pictures of you with friends you’d met. What drew you to them and how are you keeping up with them now?
My roommates, Ibby and Marylee, were my best friends at camp. And even back at home, they are still my best friends in the world. I sort of had to get to know them because they were my roommates. They were so funny. They would crack hilarious jokes. And they just wanted to get to know me, so I was like, okay I should get to know them. Also, the girls in my cluster were just really nice and so I became great friends with them. And then, there was a girl named Julia and she was so funny and I just really liked her. We were in a bunch of skills together and it was perfect. Now, I’m writing to them. I text them a lot. We all have Instagram so I’m talking to them through there, too. Mostly, like over the phone, not really over the post. Wait. That’s what I should do today. I should write them letters. Well anyway, I’m getting off topic.
You’ve had to put yourself out there a LOT this year. Changing schools, trying out for sports, attending a 2-week camp where you knew exactly zero humans. How does it make you feel to have conquered those things?
It feels great. At the schools I went to, I never had to put myself out there. You became friends with people because the classes were small. I’ve definitely gained confidence over the last year. Putting yourself out there feels good. When you do that, you don’t necessarily have to meet a new friend, but the point is that you tried.
What would you say to other kids your age who need to get out of their bubble? What would you say to their parents?
Don’t try to do it so fast. Just work slowly on it. It takes time to break into new friend groups. Just keep putting yourself out there and find a way that’s comfortable for you to be able to do that.
Parents, don’t push them. DO NOT. It’s the worst feeling. I mean definitely try to make sure your kid’s okay, but don’t try to force them or get all up in their business. You don’t go to their school. Their friends are not your friends. You can encourage them to be a good friend, but you cannot force a friendship for them.