Last weekend my husband and I went to his best friend’s wedding. At our table was a friend of the groom who had gone to summer camp with him for years. A fellow Latina at the table mentioned no one she’d ever known had gone to camp. I chimed in and told them how my parents didn’t allow me to go to camp, and how now, as a mom and much to my surprise, I had already told my husband there was no way in heck they’d be sleeping away at any camp. The former camper seemed really concerned and asked what my reservations were. I told him I found myself turning into my parents and holding onto some of their ways of thinking. Bottom line they can’t go because the camp is probably filled with scary pedophiles and other evil people; I trust my girls but not everyone else. The other Latina laughed and said that was the same reason her parents gave about sleep away camps and sleepovers in general.
I wasn’t always anti-camp and anti-sleepover. As a matter of fact, growing up I was fascinated by this very American tradition of sending kids away to have fun with other kids unsupervised by their own parents. I envied kids who got to use sleeping bags and use tents and roast marshmallows. I wanted to be one of those kids who hid under blankets with friends and a flashlight to tell scary stories. Alas, I was never one of those kids. I always thought I’d be the first one to allow my kids some of the freedoms my parents didn’t let me have. But it’s scary how much I’m turning out to be like them.
My parents are both in their late 80s but my friends’ parents are still considerably younger and none of them ever went to camp or had sleepovers. The only common thing amongst them is that they’re all Latino. Do you think it’s a cultural trait that Latino parents tend to be a tad overprotective? Or is it more generational?
By the way, I know it’s a bit irrational to be so paranoid and not trusting of people. I say no now but I imagine with time I’ll loosen up and say, much to the horror of mis padres, that camp isn’t such a bad idea after all.