At the end of the school year, we attempted to sign Harper
Lee up for Camp Cheerio, but we were wait-listed, number 31 to be exact. I gave up hope that we might get in, but when
we returned from the beach, there was a message from the camp. I called and left another message, assuming
they had called at the beginning of the week, and we had missed our
On Sunday, after we got home from church, there was another
message saying that Harper Lee had a spot if she wanted it. Drop-off was from 2 to 4 that day. It was 1:15.
So in an hour and half, we packed for a week of summer camp and headed
up the mountain to Camp Cheerio.
It was weird having no contact with my child for an entire
week, but I knew she would have a good time, so I didn’t worry too much. We picked her up on Saturday. It turns out that she did have good time,
just as I had suspected, with activities and games, but she did not love living
with her cabin mates.
Archery, it turns out, was her favorite, and horseback riding
was a close second though she now concedes that horses are a lot of work. She also took a tumbling class and improved
quite a bit. There were also lots of
arts and crafts, swimming, canoeing, soccer and games, all of which are right
up Harper Lee’s alley.
The cabin thing, however, was a bit of a bummer. I think she really liked her counselors, but
she did not quite fit in with the rest of her cabin mates. This struck me as very strange. Harper Lee is sociable and, if I do say so,
very funny and easy to talk to, so I was a bit surprised that she only seemed
to bond with a couple of the girls and did not have a good feeling about the
rest of her roommates.
It turns out that Harper Lee may be just a little different
(something I sort of already knew) from many other girls her age. During their games of “Question Ball”, a kind
of getting-to-know-you, icebreaker game in their cabins, she was asked, “Which
do you prefer? Harry Potter or
Twilight?” Her answer was, “Harry
Potter, I guess, since I don’t know what ‘Twilight’ is.” After the gasps of disbelief, which Harper
Lee said made her feel like an idiot, they informed her that everyone has read
“Twilight”. She was puzzled, and quite
frankly, so am I. Nine year old girls
reading romance novels about vampires?
Hmmmm… is it just me or does that sound asinine?
Her next question was, “Which evening program is your
favorite?” My child, who goes to bed at
8:00, had to take another turn since, as she said, “I don’t really watch TV at
night.” You see where this is going,
But the topper was the question, “If you could have lunch
with any celebrity, living or dead, who would it be?” The answers from the rest of the crowd, as
you might imagine, ranged from Taylor Swift to Selena Gomez to Justin Beiber. Harper Lee’s reply? “Maureen O’Hara.” God love her.
She said, “After I said it, I could see the question marks
forming over their heads, and the counselor said, ‘OK—next.’” I’m sure even the college counselors didn’t
know who Maureen O’Hara is, and I felt a little sad for Harper Lee but also a
little bit proud.
I mean, if your nine year old is going to pick a heroine,
why not a fiery redhead who can ride fast, shoot straight and go head to head
with John Wayne? I think that’s pretty
cool. Personally, I think it’s way
cooler than a pasty-faced, prepubescent boy who looks like a girl, but that’s
I told Harper Lee that she might need to get used to being a
little different. Our family,
apparently, is a little different too, and that’s OK. I’m proud of her for being herself. I hope it’s a trait she hangs onto her whole
After some sleep and some needed downtime, I think that her
overall camp experience was a good one, and I think she might even go back next
year. If she does, it would be nice for
her to meet up with some likeminded individual who marches to her own drum, but
if not, I hope Harper Lee keeps marching to hers. It’s got a good beat and she can dance to it.