Latinitas - A Strong Voice for Latina Youth

First, I apologize for leaving my blog stagnant for so long. I've really enjoyed the summer and pretty much thrown all of my cares to the wind, which is kind of a problem.

I guess I will fill y'all in with my camp (mis)adventures. 

Have you ever felt super unfit in a social setting? I usually mesh well with new people, but while I was at camp it was painfully obvious that I was the only Latina and that I came from a completely different economic bracket than those around me. I don't think race or money is everything, but I did feel out of place. 

At school, the majority of my friends are Hispanic. On top of that, no one really has a giant house in college. We all either live in apartments or the dorms, so it isn't as obvious whose swimming in money and who isn't. At camp, though, it was clear that my upbringing was polar opposite than those around me. 

Let me give you a quick rundown of camp.

The camp I worked out was a sports camp in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas. Kids from the ages of 7 to 14 come for two to three weeks at a time from all over the world. Literally, parents send their 7 year olds from places like France and Singapore for a two week sports camp. The camp costs a little over $3,000 a camper, which I think is a little exuberant. (When I was younger $350 church camp was a lot... it still is.) 

In addition to random ice breakers, pool time, lake time and nightly programs, like dances, each student went to nine different sports classes taught by the counselors.

I taught two dance classes and assisted in a range of others from tennis to soccer. Some of the campers were seasoned pros. They'd played soccer their whole lives. Others struggled at everything. "The Whop" eluded them. 

When we weren't teaching classes, we were with our cabins, which ranged from 10 girls to 13, plus two co-counselors. I loved hanging with the kids, but when we had down time with the counselors it was super uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, I let my high school self get the best of me. Even at age 20, there is still the popular crowd that thinks they're better than you, the "pretty" girls seem to get prettier with age and well let's not get started about the guys. 

Even though I am full out adult, who lives in a different state than her parents, sometimes I let what other people think get the best of me. I worry if I'm measuring up to some invisible standard that others have placed just above who I am.

I struggled with this a lot at camp, but it really hit me how dumb of an insecurity that was. I wasn't at camp to be the center of attention or to find a boyfriend, but to make a difference in a kid's life. I went to camp for the kids and not the counselors. When I finally stopped worrying about what other people thought, I had a really good time with the girls in my cabin. 

I may not decide to do camp again next summer, but I'm glad I did it this summer. I learned a lot about caring for others and also about myself. It's great to be the center of attention, but what good is it if you're the only one benefiting. I, for one, would much rather be remembered as someone's awesome camp counselor who changed a life than the popular girl you worked with one summer.

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Comment by Cynthia Amaya on June 28, 2012 at 11:43am

Mariah, I've felt that way, too. I attend a university where I'm part of a very obvious minority and it feels weird. Every day I feel like there's something to prove and I have to push myself to win at these standards I didn't even know existed. It's kind of hard, but I just have to remind myself that I'm there to study and work hard for what I want. Your story reminded me of my struggle and it's nice to see that I'm not alone. Thank you!




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