“I’m 8…and a Half”

This summer is my third time working at camp. Children I interact with on a daily basis were not alive for 9/11. They were not alive when I graduated from elementary school. And some weren’t even alive when I started University 5 years ago. That last one is scary.

Every single day I witness how the current generation is growing up in this technological world. Some kids, who’s age is less than my shoe size, talk about how they go home and use an iPad, or listen to music on an iPod. I’m 22-years-old and I have never owned either one of those devices.

These kids love video games and they aren’t even 10-years-old. I didn’t get my first gaming system until I was 10-years-old.

Attention spans are almost non-existent. Curiosity reigns supreme as they constantly ask what we are doing next. How many hours are left in camp? How many minutes until the next activity? I feel like I’m in an interrogation room.

I look back to my childhood and I don’t remember it being this frantic. I grew up in the 90s, which means when I was bored I didn’t flip on the power button to some device. I went outside, or played board games, or, dare I say it, read a book.

But kids aren’t completely different from when I was growing up. I see myself in a lot of these kids, especially the ones that talk about sports from the moment they are dropped off in the morning, to the moment they are picked up in the afternoon.

I feel like I’m looking into a mirror every time one of my campers starts talking about the NHL and different players on different teams. I see myself every time a kid shows up wearing a shirt with a team logo on it. I was that kid. In many ways, I still am that kid.

Every time I ask a camper how old they are, I’m reminded of the fact that kids just want to grow up. They want to be older. They are not just 8-years-old. No, that lasts for a day. The are now 8…and a half…maybe three-quarters…they haven’t mastered mathematics yet.

Kids always want to be older and adults always want to be younger. Since when is age something to be ashamed of? It’s a fact. Just like your first name. Just like your height. Just like what you ate for breakfast. It’s a fact. Your age shouldn’t be something to hide from.

Being in a hurry to grow up is natural for all children. Growing an inch is a big deal. It means they are that much closer to not having to strain their neck by looking up at every single adult around them.

And I get it.

But a part of me just wants to shake them and tell them to enjoy being a kid. Go run outside. Yell “Car!” when you play road hockey. Take a break for fruit punch in a pitcher. Watch your favourite television shows at the same time every day. Go put your hands in paint and chase after people. Just do things that kids do.

Don’t go home and play games on an iPad, or listen to music on an iPod. There will be plenty of time for that when you’re older. Do kids even have favourite songs? Perhaps I’m out of touch.

Some kids I talk to already brag about binge watching television shows on the Internet. Television shows that College students watch instead of studying for exams. That kinda alarms me.

I feel like their urge to grow up is being aided by technology. They aren’t doing the things that children did every generation before them.

Do they even know about “The Price is Right?” That was a staple of my childhood, specifically on sick days. I’ll ask them tomorrow.

I grew up and everything felt like a natural, slow, progression into adulthood. Sure, it seems like it’s gone fast, but it all happened at a proper pace and at the right time. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Now, kids seem to be hurdling through their childhood and doing things that teenagers, not 8-year-olds, should be doing. Their behaviour reflects that. Their interests reflect that. Their language reflects that.

It’s scary. I can’t stop it. But it’s not their fault. This is the only world they have ever known. They don’t know what it’s like to have dial-up Internet. They don’t know what it’s like to not rely on technology for entertainment.

Before someone yells at me for generalizing every single kid in the world, let me say this: I know not every kid is like this. This is just what I see from my experience working at camp. Thanks for your understanding.

Who knows, maybe these kids will grow up to be the most successful generation to ever live and I’m just being narrow-minded because I didn’t grow up with half the things that exist today.

No one grows up the same way, but everyone grows up. I guess that’s all that really matters.

As the song goes, “I’m 22 for a moment…”

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5 Responses to “I’m 8…and a Half”

  1. anzilch says:

    This post is so powerful. I love the honesty in your words. I worked at a summer camp for three years and saw the exact same things that you described here. It’s heart breaking. Thank you for putting this out there for people to read.


  2. Can’t agree with you more. Sometimes listening to the children in my soccer club makes my jaw drop. They are way too knowledgable about certain topics that someone in their 30’s should only understand. Great post Paul 🙂 as always!


  3. Daniel says:

    Hey Paul. How’ve you been? Yeah -_- childhood is so different now. But working in Summer Camps is great fun hey?


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