children hear EVERYTHING. i learned it the hard way. i got burned.
for children, summer overnight camp is magical experience.
my opportunity came only once. our family ran a tight budget. as a result, each child got one shot at it. the month was filled with activities, learning and religious practice.
during that month, i learned of the famous camp lore, “char man.” “char man” is a classic horror movie character. “char man” was the camp counselor who was thrown into the camp fire by his evil campers. the camp counselor rose from the ashes as “char man. ” his eternal mission was to haunt and take revenge out on future campers. this was the trappings of camp counselors who would use improvisation to make the story their own.
my camping experience led to a camp counselor opportunity. as counselor, i invoked the “char man” legend in a bedtime story. apparently, i did a great job. perhaps, it did too good of a job. during my tale telling, i evoked a cartoon tradition of slipping in a little adult content. at the moment of a male victim’s dismemberment, i described it as follows: “char man” cut off the right leg, the left leg, and the third leg. it was a comical aside meant to be over campers’ heads and for the entertainment of the adults who were listening.
little did i know…
a few days later, there was a camping overnight at a lake. it included a campfire along with a talent show.
my bunk, to my surprise, made an impromptu dramatic presentation of the “char man” story. they were amazing. then, they went into a reenactment the dismemberment scene. they stuffed shirts and other objects to make limbs. as the dismemberment scene was played out, they tossed out into the sky a right leg, a left leg, and ….. a third leg.! holy blank! the campers were great and showed talent. at that moment, cemented in my mind for eternity was the notion that “children listen to everything.”
it got worse. the head of the camp was present during this performance. i assumed a low profile and weathered the storm. .
while in deuteronomy it states that “and you shall teach them to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up,” there are times when you may feel that your children or students are not listening, don’t be deceived. even late at night, they may be listening all too well.
thus, please never give up speaking of positive morals, values and principles with children. you never really know what they absorb. perhaps one day you will see them making a presentations or plays promoting the positive values that they heard….from you.
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