Once a week, all the counselors-in-training (CIT's) here at camp get 6 hours of leave time. CIT's are the 15-16-year olds who are too old to be campers, but not yet old enough to be counselors. Thus, they are counselors-in-training. Each week, one lucky staff member gets to be the one to take out the CIT's on their 6-hour leave and do with them whatever the CIT's want to do. There are twelve of them. They are all either fifteen or sixteen years old.
Today, I was selected to be their fearless chaperone.
And twelve 15-16-year-old girls. In downtown Asheville.
For the most part it was uneventful. Considering it takes almost an hour to get to downtown Asheville from camp, and an hour to get back, that only leaves 4 hours right there. We ate pizza for lunch. One group of girls said they were going to wait on the benches outside, and of course took off. So I didn't let any of the other girls go anywhere until the 4 renegade girls got back. And I made the remaining 8 girls call the 4 renegade girls on their cell phones and tell them that their insouciant disregard for authority (I was expressley forbidden to let any girls go off by themselves) was ruining the remaining 8 girls' leave time.
Was that a little manipulative? Perhaps. But it was effective.
I've never truly been in a position of authority before. Being put in charge of a group of girls that were half my age (and technically, any one of whom's father I could be) was very weird. On the one hand, it made me feel important, and very grown-up, as they were actually deferring to me, asking my permission for things, and if I said no, they honored it. Also, they did what I told them to do.
On the other hand, it was really awkward, and I can absolutely see now how parents can fall into the roles of the "cool" parent and the "disciplinarian" parent. When I scolded the girls for running off, and they said they were "just over there, across the street," and I said, "Well, that's not in front of the restaurant, is it," and she scoffed at me, I wanted to slap her.
Some things I learned today about girls:
- "Tainted Love" is every girl's favorite song;
- they think Fergie is totally gross, but they like some of her songs, but they don't buy her records because she's gross;
- some of them still listen to the Spice Girls;
- everyone is "retarded," and everything is "ghey." But strangely, people are never ghey, and things are never retarded. Glad we cleared that up;
- or maybe things are just "gay." I'm actually a little unclear on this;
- but lesbians are "cool," and sometimes "hot;"
- Tammy is the most lesbian name imaginable. There was actually, like, a 20-minute conversation about this in the van on the way back;
- girls still love Grease! Their favorite song is "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," and the part where she says, Elvis, Elvis, let me be. Keep that pelvis far from me, they think is the funniest thing anyone has ever said, ever;
- they all are very sheltered. They still stare at homeless people and think everyone in Asheville is "weird;"
- they all think I'm weird.
They have no clue as to the depths of my weirdness.