Reflecting on Financial Stresses and Childhood

Over the course of the summer camp thus far, I’ve worked with a group of kids that is mostly composed of low-income minorities. These kids come from single parent households, households with disabled guardians, households that are struggling with substance abuse, etc., which makes them extremely unique to work with. My top priority while working with these kids is to provide something that they might not receive at home– a caring adult that can take the time to listen to them.

This factor is one of the things that drew me to this opportunity. I came from a financially stressed background as well, so I wanted to be able to give back to the community by working with this group of kids just as people worked with me. However, since I am not of a minority, my childhood struggles certainly differ than the ones the campers face. Throughout my summer experience, I’ve noticed how these factors affect children differently and cause them to grow into different people. For example, a few of our kids express their situations by acting out, being disobedient, bullying other campers, and looking for attention.

I found this to be different than how my financial situation affected me growing up. Since I was unable to keep up with the trends of my peers as a child, I was more so shy and reclusive until I reached my high school years because I was almost embarrassed. However, I now realize that my childhood differs from that of my campers for two reasons: they are surrounded by kids in similar scenarios; and their minority status causes different standards and stereotypes to be held for them.

Overall, I’ve definitely had to reflect upon my identity of having come from a financially stressed background during my time with the campers. The standards that I held in mind for kids that I expected to be just like me as a child and the realities I faced of the kids’ own ways of coping were polar opposites, but I’ve found strategies in dealing with misbehavior and I feel as if I’ve grown closer to the kids because of it. Even if the campers are unaware of the similarities we share, I hope that they know that I am there for them to talk to about the issue.

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