Note to Summer Camp Self

When your parents leave, go and sit down somewhere. While all of the other kids are reuniting with each other, stay to the side and don’t draw attention to yourself. The last thing you want is to start off at a new camp at the bottom of the social order. And however friendly these people look, there is a social order, so don’t forget it. Watch how the girls are hugging each other and screaming with excitement and glee, they weren’t fat like you expected them to be, remember, they came from the City too. Watch the boys smile and high-five each other, the stupid ones prancing around like they own the place and simultaneously telling people how many friends they have, and how few you have. You will never understand how they manage to do that. Don’t feel bad for yourself, just look at the people following behind them like dogs. They are probably okay people, but at your age the louder and meaner ones are popular. Don’t get too angry at the counselors who are all young and looking at phones. It doesn’t matter that they don’t pay attention to you, they will soon enough. Try to put a relaxed expression on your face, and go sit down near, but not right next to, another kid who is new, or is just not popular enough to walk around with the others. Don’t show a lot of weakness, but at the same time don’t act like everything is going your way, because the other kid will feel like he’s the only one that isn’t feeling great today. The best way to start out in a new community is with friends, and since you don’t know a single person here, it wouldn’t hurt to make one.

Earlier on, when you, mom and dad went to see your cabin, you met one of your bunkmates. His name was Dylan, the one who was practically bald, almost like a lawnmower ran over his head. He was a bit weird, more of the nerdy type, if you can remember. You may have considered him a possible friend at the time, which was smart, because if you start with a “Dylan” you can always fall back on a “Dylan”, even if his belongings keep moving to your shelf.

You might choose to ponder over this interesting dilemma in your waking dreams, the question of whether to establish a friendship with a socially shunned nerd, or go down the long, arduous and sometimes deceiving path of a friendship with the most popular kid, the “top-dog”, or so you might say. However, your entire life you will be on the cautious side of friend-making, and so your next friend at camp won’t find you for a while.

When you go over to the counselors to ask when camp will actually start, and they don’t hear you, go lie down in the grass. Don’t sleep, and don’t think about home, only happy thoughts. Let your eyes close half way.

Julian Rubinfien, Age 12, Grade 7, Packer Collegiate Institute, Gold Key

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