Pretty Maids All in a Row

The girls have been so excited to go to ‘camp’ this summer. Each girl has two – one week long camps. I thought they’d enjoy them – Groovy Girls, Fairytopia, Playpalooza, and Bike something or other.

Each day they’re so excited to show us what they’ve made. We smile and say something like “Oh such a pretty shade of green”. Despite the fact that apparently only one colour was available to begin with, since every leaf (that’s exactly the same shape) is exactly the same colour. We say “Oh I see you spaced the stones the same distance apart.” Only to be told that the ‘teacher’ helped. Yeah. We realized that. We know what our children can create. And we love what we see. But the items they bring home from camp – I don’t want to display those on my fridge. I don’t want to keep them. My children didn’t make them. I really despise it when someone tells the girls the ‘right way’ to create. Whether that’s telling them how to colour a colouring page, or how to hold a crayon or where to place their googily eyes. Sure give them information. If you blend those colours of paint together, it’ll become the same brown as your other picture, then we won’t see what colours you used. But don’t tell her the leaf can’t be an alien, and it can’t have eyes, or if eyes are allowed, don’t tell her they have to be placed in a certain spot.

If that was all, I might be able to relax, but it’s worse. From what I can tell the only purpose of these camps is to prepare children for jail school. In order to go to or from the playground the children needed to walk in a straight line. Three years old. Together wasn’t good enough. They had to walk in a single-file, ruler-straight line. You might wonder what the big deal is?

Well the big deal is that they spend fifteen minutes outside. Of those fifteen minutes I saw them take five minutes forcing the children into the line. One child was slightly off centre. Everyone stopped until he was directly behind the child in front of him. They paused, and made sure everyone was straight before they continued. Then they paused because one child left too much space between him and the person in front of him. Everyone had to stay straight, with eyes ahead, until the boy caught up. Then they paused to assess the line. One little girl was too far forward, and was almost beside the adult leader. The leader got down to the girl’s level and pointed out the error of getting out of line. The girl had to get back in the straight line, before they continued, every one had to repeat that they would “walk in a straight line”. What kind of line? “A straight line”. That’s right, the leader told them to repeat after her, then she asked the question and waited for the children to respond. Three year olds were being treated that way. I was tempted to go over and get Agatha right then and there. But there’s a rule about that.

When camp was over and the door to their rooms opend, the first parent stepped inside. Then the next, then me. Did any of the children come running over? Nope. They were such good little girls and boys (please note the derision – there’ll be a post about that horrible word soon). They remained laying face down on the carpet until their parent touched them. Until that moment they were not to get up. Even if they saw their parent.

I don’t want an automaton. I don’t want my child walking in a straight line just because someone told her to. There wasn’t a street to cross, sure there’s a lake and I can understand needing to be sure the children stay close. After all a group of twenty three year olds can be unpredictable. But there were at least five leaders there. It would’ve been okay if the children walked beside each other, even if they raced to see who’d make it to the sidewalk first. But apparently five adults can’t figure out a way to respectfully move children from point A to point B.

I wanted my children to have an opportunity to meet new children. I wanted them to have fun. But I can see fun is not the correct word. I’m not even sure what word to use. Everything was so structured I don’t think there was time for fun.

I’ll leave on the words of Robert Frost:

 TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,        10

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.        15

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.        20

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Pretty Maids All in a Row

  1. Wow! That’s wayyyyyy over the top!! Sounds like the people running and organizing it don’t actually like kids, they’re just there, so keep kids in line and easier to deal with, then days done, kids are gone. Haven’t had any experiences like that with the camps Kestyn attended, I understand his leaders needs to keep the kids in a group in order to keep an eye on all of them, but I have NEVER observed the ‘military training’ you described. That would be just awful and so not fun. So, in the end, how did the girls enjoy their summer camps?

  2. Agatha refused to try her other camp this week. So instead we went to the playground, played tag, then came home, painted, created things with foam pieces, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and popsicle sticks. Then we made more frosting for the left-over cake scraps and the girls decorated cakes. Then we watched a couple shows. By then it would have been time for Agatha to come home.

    It seems what I observed is pretty common in open-ended programs (i.e. the program’s meant to be fun and offer socialization without any other real purpose) I thought those programs would be better, but apparently not.

    Ella was signed up for a French program for the fall, but we’ve decided not to go ahead with it. Though we have had some great success with other programs.

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