Bulling and Quilting

The title of today’s post, for me, describe polar opposites. 

I have a policy of not going off the topic of quilting and sewing related issues, with a very few exceptions. This is one of those occasions.

Obviously I am not going to write about quilting today. At the request of a close friend, she asked me to share this story. 

Her fourth grader is being bullied. She knows how strongly I am against bullying and for “no tolerance” policies in schools and youth related centers. A few days ago I spent a few hours with her daughter, and shared with her my story about when I was bullied in fourth grade, which really seemed to help. 

If this story helps any of my reader’s children or young relatives, I will be happy. I know I will have passed along a legacy that I never passed along to my own kids, because my husband and I don’t have any together. But I shared this story with my step-children when they were young. So I am happy to do this mitzvoh, (good deed), and just hope it helps – even one child.

Here we go….

The summer between fourth and fifth grade my parents sent me to sleep-a-way camp in Maine. I was not really ready for this yet, and at the time was not mature enough for this experience. But my parents said this is the time to start. (I don’t blame them for missing, that I wasn’t ready. I’m just grateful they realized what a mess this was and were so sorry I had such an awful experience when I came home.) A little bit I still wish they had taken me home at visiting day, half way through the summer, but if they had the ending of the story would have been vastly different, and I wouldn’t have grown in the way I did. So there is an amazing silver lining here.

Two girls, the names of which I will never forget, isolated me. They did cruel things to me.They took my hairbrush and certain other necessary items girls need at that age. They played mean tricks on me and called me awful names, made fun of me – it was completely humiliating and I felt ashamed. (Normal feelings for the one being bullied. But it is the bullies who should feel ashamed). 

My bunk counselors didn’t report it to the Camp Director, which was a big part of their responsibility. My parents urged me to finish the summer, and they didn’t say anything to the Camp Director halfway through the summer either.

About a week before the end of the summer, an older camper passed by our bunk and heard the horribleness of what was going on. God Bless her for going the the Director and telling her what she overheard and witnessed.

After I returned home, the Director called my parents and spoke with me. She was very apologetic and invited me back for next summer, and promised things would be different. (I didn’t go). I received a letter of apology from the bully leader. My parents felt terrible about what I endured. I was lucky and am so grateful the bullies got caught. The second part of this story, I am even more grateful for.

About three years later, at the local pool in our town we met a family with two really nice daughters who went to a different sleep away camp. They shared with me incredible stories that seemed like a dream to what I experienced.
They assured me that bullying was not tolerated at this camp. And it was not a competitive camp, where kids were encouraged to compete harshly against each other. Friendly competition, and competing with yourself to do your best was encouraged.

The arts were encouraged, swimming, water sports, (my strengths), and tennis, (my weakness). But the Directors never pushed campers to do something they were uncomfortable with. In fact one-third of our day, we could choose the activity we wanted to do, which was called Plunge; it was two free period each day.

I spent a lot of time growing my swimming and water skiing skills, and was the first camper to pass Lifesaving. I also spent a lot of time water skiing and creating art, in the arts and crafts studio.

During my first week at camp, I met another girl, Judy who was my age. She is one of my best friends. This was Judy’s second year at this camp. But before that she went to a camp where she was bullied, mercilessly too. 

She asked me the name of the camp I went to, and it was the same camp, and the same two girls! The chances of something like that happening is about the same as winning a lotto. There are so many sleep-a-way camps in the northeast. We could not stop laughing.

Today we still laugh about it, and have never forgotten the names of those two bullies. We often joke about looking them up on facebook, and letting them know that we thrived in life despite their cruelty.

So the moral of the story is – many things. For us it is – What goes around, comes around. These girls will always have a bad reputation. They touched our lives in a negative way, and all those who witnessed their nasty behavior and did, or didn’t speak up. People remember this stuff as they grow-up go to college, and even beyond. And yes, they talk. They always have, and they always will. 

If you are a bully, people will remember you. If you are bullied, stay strong about who you are, and remember, their reputation will follow them forever.

Have a great weekend. Happy Quilting.