It’s entirely understandable why children have an eternal love for summer. Now as junior in high school, I will always cherish the careless days of summer abounding with cold lemonade, swimming pools, making friends and magical memories. It is a childhood dream of sorts.
Last summer while working, I was faced with three little girls who were hungry for a summer fantasy of their own. These three sandy-haired sisters attended the Girl Scout summer outreach camp where I worked. Each one of them possessed a peculiar characteristic that distinguished them apart from everyone else. The eldest was terribly timid and withdrawn, but had and admirable leadership over her sisters, quite like how I strived to lead my campers. The middle sister was curious and creative, but possessed some anger problems and attachment issues. Often she would shadow me and when she had one of her meltdowns the other counselors would seek me as a last resort; they believed I was they only one who could coax the eight year old out of her temper-tantrums. The youngest sister was a free spirit; she had contagious energy that some would find draining, but I latched on to it and thrived on it when I was at work.
In the beginning, the girls struggled to fit in and were shy about making friends. I imagined that they thought they were not good enough, not fun enough, not “normal” enough to make friends at camp. I wanted them to have a normal summer full of fun. As time passed and August crept closer, my heart weighed with the thought that these girls would return to school exactly how they had left alone but together, without a new friend or life long memory and only their sun kissed skin as an indicator that summer ever even happened. I sometimes lost myself in thoughts about these three girls who seemed to always struggle. I can recall a time during arts and crafts, when I found the girls, isolated from the group, knee-to-knee in a secluded corner, playing a hand game alone as if there wasn’t anyone else around. They were laughing and bonding, but I worried that they would not have a “magical summer.” I wanted them to make friends just as I had as a Girl Scout in elementary school.
When the last day of camp rolled around, I wondered if the girls would leave with happy memories. Before they said their last farewells, the youngest one grabbed my hand. I remember kneeling down beside her and looking into her eyes. It was at that moment it dawned on me, it had been a good summer for them. They were not lonely. We had fun at the zoo, the children’s museum, singing Girl Scout songs and learning the Girl Scout Promise. I knew they would always remember that when the youngest girl looked me straight into my eyes and told me she loved me. I quickly concluded that our time together was more powerful than I thought. It was another good Girl Scout memory for me and one I will always remember. I’m sure it was for those three girls too.
-Jasmine Babers, Girl Scout of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois Ambassador