What I Want To Say To My Kids' Teenage Camp Counselor

by Nicole Johnson
Originally Published: 
Four children in red canoes on the clear blue water paddling and laughing

Dear Presley,

You are now accountable for living beings you may or may not be able to reason with. Their ability to listen and understand will be based on things you have no control over, like time of day (they are worst early in the morning and toward pick-up time; these are the moments when you will want to run crying to your own mother), temperature (they are always cranky when it gets hot, oh and you all don’t have an AC, yikes, good luck), hunger, thirst, urinary urgency and a million other things I wish I could include, but they are in your care now so I’ll assume you know what you’re doing.

I’m sure you’ve taken CPR, gone through interviews and a background check, and provided an essay and multiple references. Right? I’ll check in with the camp director before I leave today. Maybe I’ll call your mother as well. I’m kidding, I’m not a stalker, just a concerned parent. I’m sure you understand. You have a mother. At your age, you probably think she’s an uncool hindrance, but someday you will appreciate her. Trust me.

Anyway, I want you to know that this summer will change your life in so many ways. Many teenagers have never spent a substantial amount of time around young kids, and after doing so many find they never want to again. The idea of having sex may not hold any appeal after your stint here at camp. This will be a blessing. Twenty screaming children provide the best form of birth control ever. Your parents are very smart for allowing you to work here. Or, you may be one of the rare teenagers who finds the idea of having children appealing, just because you take care of them for a measly six weeks. I can assure you, having children is best left to adults no matter what MTV tries to tell you.

I’m sorry; I don’t mean to upset you with this letter. I guess I’m hoping to remind you of how important your job is. While I am off working, you will be making memories my children will carry through a lifetime, so tread carefully. You don’t want to be the bitchy blond counselor from summer camp. You look sweet and kind. Be that girl.

If you screw up this year, they won’t want you back next year, and if you’re using this for your college application, that won’t look good. What I’m trying to tell you is that you have the ability to really make a difference in these kids’ lives. Did you know camp counselors held such power? Kind of intoxicating, isn’t it? Don’t let it go to your head, though; the other camp counselors won’t like it.

You will make friends with your co-counselors, and while that is fine and to be expected, your main purpose for being here is to care for the children. They rely on you for everything: help with sunscreen and bug spray, and even to wipe their smelly little mouths after they vomit because you’ve allowed them to have way too much candy and ride the roller coaster, all in an attempt to be the fun counselor. Presley, is that really a memory you want to create?

Well, I think that’s all from me. You are going to really enjoy your summer. You will meet so many new people and possibly forge friendships that will last a lifetime, but the most important thing is that my children are safe and happy at the end of the day.

Please, do not take this as a threat. I’m not some crazy woman, just a caring mother.

Have a great day.

Jack and Taylor’s mom

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