I never liked girl's camp...and for a good reason, too.
So to you mothers, here is a tip for you
to help your little beehive have a good time:
Don’t cut your daughter's hair shorter than the deacons.
Twice at girl’s camp, I was mistaken for a boy.
Now you are probably wondering why
I was determined to keep my short hair all of my
childhood when I was commonly mistaken for a boy.
Well, for one reason I seriously thought that Demi Moore copied my haircut for
her part in the 1990 movie Ghost, which just confirmed to me that
the haircut was awesome. (And it was for a 20-year-old, not a 9-year-old).
Also, my sister Page had the same haircut and I loved Page.
Story #1 One June morning in 1993, just freshly twelve years old- the age
when a girl can attend camp,
I was loading the bus following behind my friends and cousins.
When I walked past the bus driver sitting at the wheel,
I noticed him staring at me looking confused.
I paid no mind and timidly rushed to the back of the bus
and sat down by my cousins; Katie, Jayne, Casey, and Sarah.
Then I looked forward and saw his piercing eyes glaring at me in the
long rectangle mirror attached to the windshield.
You know, that death mirror where bus drivers eagle eye students
for any monkey business going on during those rides home from long school days.
In my mind, I panicked and wondered;
why is he staring at me? What’s the deal?
Then it happened. He could see that I was looking at him, too so
he lifted his hand up and pointed sharply at me with his finger.
I ignored it and looked out the window.
Then he yelled, “HEY!”
Still, I ignored it again because why shouldn't I? I didn't do anything wrong.
But I couldn't help but wonder why he was yelling at me.
I think deep in my heart I knew what it was.
I already felt stupid.
Then in the corner of my eye, I watched him pick up the
bus's loudspeaker, and instantly the bus with nearly fifty loud
young girls screaming and yapping with excitement came to a halt.
“Hey, you in the back of the bus!" he yelled.
“No boys allowed at camp, is this a joke? Who are you here with?”
My heart was breaking with every word and I knew he was talking to me.
All at once, all the girls stood up to see who’s
devious brother snuck on the bus
without anyone knowing as a practical joke.
All the girls began laughing and then and my cousin, Casey looked at me and said,
“Steph, I think he is looking at you.”
Tears began swelling as I crept down further in my seat.
“Hey get off the bus before I notify someone to help you off!”
He was cruel. And chubby and I kept thinking to myself,
well at least I’m not chubby you big chubby loser!
Finally, he stood up and walked to the back where I was.
Each footstep shook the bus. The bus was now quiet except for the
few whispers roaming around. My heart was racing now.
What would I tell him, how could I possibly PROVE to this chubby man
that I was indeed a girl.
Finally, he reached my seat and put his hand on my shoulder, and said,
“young man, get off the bus."
I looked up with him as a hot tear dripped down my cheek.
“B-but I’m a girl,” I said nervously.
He looked at me with an unexpected stare then looked
at my cousin who nodded quietly.
Then he walked away and off the bus. I looked up through my tear-glazed eyes
as the girls looked at me with pity and embarrassment.
Clasping their hands over their mouths as if that had happened
to them, they would have died!
I could see through my tears out the window as the chubby bus driver began
conversing with my leader outside and then nodded.
He walked back on the bus and sat down glancing in the back
through the mirror with awkwardness.
My cousin gave me a side hug then offered me some of her sour patch kids.
"That was rude, Steph. I'm sorry. I don't think you look like a boy."
She said holding the treats to me, "the red ones are my favorite."
Story #2 My second year wasn't much better.
Gratefully, I was able to go to camp with my mom who happened to be a leader
We decided at free time to take a walk together on one of the beautiful trails
when we came upon a man they call “Papa Joe”.
He was a legend at camp because he and his wife had been the caretakers
of the land for years.
He was pilling wood on his quad when he looked up and saw us.
We nodded and said hello, except he didn’t say hello back,
“Ahhh, Excuse me, sister”
he said looking at us with an all too familiar glare.
“You know the no boys allowed at camp period rule, right?"
My mom gave him a look that released a thousand fire darts out
her eyes and said proudly to him,
“This is my DAUGHTER.”
Then she grabbed my hand and we walked away
leaving Papa Joe looking more like ‘Sloppy Joe.’
“Oh, sorry about that.” He said as we walked away.
In the distance, I could hear him rattling off a bunch of reasons why
he excused himself for his ignorant remark.
As we walked back to camp I said to my mom,
“Maybe this summer I should grow my hair out?”
She looked at me and said, “Oh, that would look really good on you, darling.
But don't do it because of comments like that, do it because you want to."
(I never did grow my hair out, at least not until I was 20 years old.)
One summer morning years later,
and just like a character in one of Judy Blume’s books,
I woke up and looked in the mirror.
I had changed.
I had turned into a woman! Seriously overnight! I'm not kidding.
After that, I was never mistaken for a young man,
and I really liked my short hair.