“Don’t hug the campers.” That was among a handful of things that my 16-year-old son, Nathaniel, was told when he volunteered this summer at our local YMCA. Oh, and also, “Don’t let any kids sit on your lap.”
He had signed up to help shepherd and supervise a gaggle of 7- and 8-year-olds from the swimming pool to the arts-and-crafts studio to the playground to the basketball court.
Since everyone knows that kids naturally like to give and get hugs, Nathaniel was presented the directive to refrain with a visual demonstration. The director of the camp showed him how, if a cute little tyke came running at him with arms wide open in expectation of a hug, he was to pivot so as to be standing sideways toward the camper, put his hand up and say, “High five!” The “high five,” the director said, was the best way to avoid torso-to-torso contact without hurting the camper’s feelings.
Nathaniel intuitively understood why this rule was being imposed. “It just made me kinda sad,” he said, “that this is what the world has come to: You can’t give a kid a hug.”Read more...