I just returned from a weekend camp. My parents volunteered me to help run the damn thing, despite my complaints. Though I was pissed at first, it turned out to be an eye opening experience.
I was responsible for a small group of boys; I pretty much had to make sure they didn't all go crazy and kill each other. The kids were pretty cooperative (mostly because they knew I had their parents' blessing to beat the shit out of them if I had to), and I didn't really have too much to do. They spent most of the three days during which they were there in classes, learning bits of this and bits of that, none of which they'll remember two months down the line. It didn't matter though, because it was a wholesome environment. We laughed, we played games, we made fun of each other, but at the end of the day we were like brothers.
Though all of the kids were really great, three in particular caught my eye. We'll call them Harris, Daniel and Nick. I'd like to share their stories with you.
Harris is the athletic type. He loves sports, loves being the center of attention, and is quick to laugh. He has a really strong personality. This is odd, because he comes from a "different" household. To put it simply, both of his parents are pretty fucking crazy. His dad is an abusive religious zealot who can hardly keep a job past a few months, and his mother, though a great cook (I eat lunch at her house every Friday it seems), seems to be suffocated by the insanity of her husband. She's a very loving and compassionate person, but her personality is clingy and gives off an aura of weakness. I don't know how Harris has managed to develop and maintain such a strong personality at such a young age, but he's done it. He's confident, cool, and very outgoing. He's also quite smart. All in all, Harris is a really good kid.
Daniel's parents were recently divorced. His mother claims his father was "psychologically abusing" her, and decided to split. I know his father personally, and he seems to be a great guy. He's tech savvy, kind, funny and quite a likable person overall. I can't see him willfully abusing anyone. Daniel's mother is a stranger to me. Probably as a result of this divorce, Daniel seems to lack confidence. Whenever he would try to do something new, whether it was playing chess, taking a distance shot on the basketball court, or simply memorizing a few simply quotes, he would give up before he even tried. He would shuffle about nervously, putting on an image of nonchalant coolness, but I could see through his facade quite easily. He was very nervous and afraid to fail in front of his peers. It's because of this lack of confidence and self esteem that he does some of the things he does. Daniel seems to be constantly trying to compete with the others. He insults them whenever he gets the chance, and claims he can "own" anyone at pretty much anything. I think he does this as a self-defense mechanism. He must put others down to keep what's left of his self esteem up. He can never show weakness. I think this because just a few years ago, I was like that myself.
Nick is the quiet type. Though he's 13 years old now, he looks like he's 8 or 9 at best. His face is boyish, and his voice is in the soprano region. My theory on this is that his mind hasn't matured yet, so his body doesn't want to mature either. Nick was definitely the smartest, and possibly one of the most naturally talented kids in the group, but he too lacked confidence. Unlike Daniel though, he doesn't have to put others down to feel better about himself. He knows he's a smart kid, and he knows he can do pretty much anything he sets his mind to, he's just afraid to admit it to the world. I told him the world already knows, and it's jealous. He liked that. Nick's dad was an organizer of the camp, and I spent a good deal of time with him as well over the weekend. He too is a very intelligent man; his mind is a wealth of information. Often when I was bored I would ask Nick's dad to tell me about some obscure subject, like the usefulness of Beryllium or something like that. He was always eager to share his knowledge with the rest of us and he was just a great guy in general. He really seemed to care about everyone. This is why I can't understand why Nick is the way he is. In my mind, people are the products of their circumstances. Personalities are created through life experiences. I am still completely confused as to why Nick lacks the confidence of some of the other boys, though he comes from a very stable background.
In these three kids, I saw our future. I saw a world full of talent, some squandered, some used for good. I saw a chance to make a difference in the world of tomorrow.
Harris simply needed someone to guide him. His father doesn't care enough and his mother simply doesn't know how.
Daniel needed someone to tell him he was worthwhile. The divorce had been tough on him, and he just wasn't feeling very good about himself.
All Nick needed was someone that would trust him with the ball enough to let him shoot. I did, and he didn't disappoint.
As creepy as it may sound, I connected with these three kids. Unknowingly, they taught me a great deal about life, and about people. I am very proud to say I was able to have an influence on these kids, and I am very proud of them. There isn't a single sliver of a doubt in my mind that they will all go on to do great things in life.
The fact that I was able to connect with these kids is amazing to me. I'm usually an angry, sarcastic person that hates anyone of lesser intelligence than myself. Yet over this last weekend, I didn't make a single sarcastic remark. I was NICE. I've been thinking about how much I've changed in the last few months, and I've come to the conclusion that this site and some of the people on this site are to blame. You guys have truly made me a better person, and I really am appreciative.
But as you can see from this writeup, I've now become a complete pussy. Fuck yall. :)