Sleepaway Camp


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.

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By Carla on July 27, 2009 · Posted in headline, the habla habla

7 Comments | Post Comment

Kari says:

My mom didn’t let me go to camp. She didn’t even let me or my sisters sleep over friends’ houses! I think that besides the fear of not being around for your children, my mom felt that no one could take care of her girls like she did, nor should anyone HAVE to! That’s what I think it was all about for mami. Plus, she was the mom of 3 nenas. What if some pervert did something to her princesas? Yeah…. our mamis are special and yes, I do believe it’s cultural. This is not the type of things my mom did in Puerto Rico or papi did in Mexico.

Fast forward to today and you have me, the mother of 2 beautiful little girls (4 and 2 years old). I do allow my daughter to spend the night at my cousin’s house and I’m perfectly fine with that. I grew up in the States and obviously I have Americanized ways, however I’m still apprehensive about either one of them going to overnight camp. I’m sure I’ll have to relax about that as they get older because it will be something that comes up especially with our kids being so involved in so many activities nowadays.

Posted on July 27th, 2009

Mari says:

I think it is a cultural thing. I am Puertoricana and no one in my family or close friends ever went to sleepaway camp. When I was a child I could only sleep over one friends house and she was Puertoricana as well. My husband, who is of English and Scottish descent, went to sleepaway camp and attended broading school for High School. He can’t understand why I won’t even think about sending our boys to boarding school when they get older let alone camp for two weeks. I am also paranoid – I try to not let it affect my boys too much but it’s tough. I was raised with the fear of something happening to me – algo te puede pasar!!!

Posted on July 27th, 2009

Chantel says:

Never ever went to a sleepover either. Tu no sabes como son la gente was the perennial response whenever I asked. Of course, now that I have a daughter, I tend to see the old school point of things a bit more clearly…

Posted on July 27th, 2009

Violeta says:

Totally relate! Hardly ever slept over at any friends’ houses and NEVER went to sleep-away camp. And, with my 3- 2 of which are girls- I can say they will not be going to sleep-away camps either, punto! I think I’ll allow sleep-overs at houses of friends we know VERY well; that said, husband and I really thought about what would make our house the best kid hang-out place when we built, so I’ll be happy if our house ends up being friends’ central as they get older.

Posted on July 27th, 2009

Cassy says:

Sounds like my story as well. I used to beg my dad to let me sleep over friends’ homes; I was missing out on so many sleepover parties. The answer was always NO. “Alli es donde se aprende cosas” he used to say, and that was that. Summer camp? Forget it. And my senior year in HS when the entire class went to Disney for five days class trip – peor!

I encourage my own child, now a 12yr old, to invite his freinds here, so I know who, where, what. If my home becomes the hangout, and the sleepover place, that’s cool too. But no, he won’t be sleeping over anyone else’s home, unless it’s abuelita’s house or the primos.

Posted on July 27th, 2009

Sheena T Abraham says:

Nice to hear it’s not just Indian parents! I love this Web site because of the many parallels between Indian and Latino families. My Indian parents weren’t big into sleepovers or camps for their kids either. And please don’t make apologies by saying “I know it’s a bit irrational…” It’s not irrational to not trust your kids to strangers. Yes, your kids need freedom, but it has to be tempered with your instinct and your protection.

Posted on July 27th, 2009

Carrie says:

Sheena, there are some definite similarities between parents of extra-flavor. Thank you for joining us here on the Tiki Tiki. I look forward to reading your blog…and, by the way, there was no camp for me either, no matter how much I campaigned for it. My summers were abuela’s house and lots of TV…and hey, I turned out alright.

Posted on July 28th, 2009