Summer camp made me a boss ass nurturing woman.
At five-years-old, I drew pictures of my kindergarten crush and I holding hands. Embarrassed, obsessed with hues of blue and basketball, I hid the drawing of he and I in the depths of my closet, behind Winnie the Pooh t-shirts and Hess toy trucks.
For as long as I was enrolled in compulsory education, I was obsessed with rejecting traditional femininity in all its forms; gender roles, beauty standards, even maternalism. I loved other women and girls and never proclaimed to not be “like other girls,” but the media and the people around me fed me lies. TV shows and movies showed me that women who were to succeed and break free were ruthless stone cold childless CEOs and executives. I wanted so badly to succeed, I rejected the nurturer in me and made myself believe I couldn’t stand children.
Sure, this didn’t at all fit with my personality, but I wanted to succeed. I wanted to break glass ceilings and liberate my family from the lower class bracket they’ve inhabited since immigrating to America from all corners of Europe. I disregarding my past as an extremely worrisome child, caring for my younger cousins, and as the self proclaimed “mom” of my friend group.
After graduating from high school, I began college and took on internships in NYC at cut throat publications and media agencies. Here, there was no room for maternalism, self-doubt, or nurturing. I channeled the best version of Sandra Bullock in The Proposal (pre-falling in love with Ryan Reynolds of course) I could.
During summers, I trekked back out east, to Long Island and took on any job any offered to me, one being camp counselor. After accepting the job I grew conflicted. I had no clue how to reconcile my denied love for children with the media’s depiction of powerful women in order to succeed at my job. Why couldn’t I combine my femininity with my skills, and be an overall badass, like Elle Woods? Was I afraid doing so would make me less powerful?
Eventually, I got the jist and combined my skills with my strength.
I’ve worked with kids for the past four summers, making my way from a counselor to camp director. The relationships I’ve formed with the gang of kids, ranging in age from 5-13, who attend the camp summer after summer make me a better person. Sure, I rather not be responsible for kids screaming, pooping their pants or violently throwing up, but the good outweighs the bad.
The unruly gang of elementary and middle school tots taught me that there’s strength in classic femininity, there’s strength in femininity and most importantly: Hollywood’s depiction of strong women is trash.