I had a camper once, a little girl who’d been assigned to my cabin. Her name may have been Rebecca, but I don’t remember. She was nervous when she first came, younger than the other girls, trying hard to make friends. She had little brown bangs that stuck to her forehead when she ran around on the beach, her skin wetting with perspiration. When I took photos of the girls, she put one hand on her hip and opened her mouth in a toothy grin. Such a ham for the camera. One hand in the air or a tennis shoe on a tree stump, eyebrows to the sky. She made me laugh. Always wanted to hold my hand.
My cabin was full of eight and nine year olds, but maybe-Rebecca, she was only seven. Once, on the volleyball court the girls were supposed to be ready to head down to the beach after catching and throwing the ball over the net. They, too small to play volleyball by standard procedure, kicked up sand and squinted into the sun during their version of the game.
Maybe-Rebecca held my hand and wanted to go back to the cabin before beach time. I didn’t quite have the time. The beach was open on my clock, being the waterfront director, as I was. Couldn’t the potty wait? She pleaded with almond eyes and I hurried back to the cabin with her to visit the bathroom.
My waiting outside the bathroom became lengthy. Everything was not alright in there. I could hear her sniffling. At age seven, it was sometimes alright to offer help in the bathroom in such scenarios. In maybe-Rebecca’s case, her sniffles were due to a not-so-standard bathroom accident. It’s the number you’re thinking it must not be and it was sitting comfortably in the recess of her swimsuit, down now around her trembling ankles.
She knew her friends were swimming and she was terribly afraid of being left out. This was her only suit and to go down to the beach without it would be to tell the entire camp that she was only seven. That she couldn’t stay away at camp like a grown-up junior camper. Her little heart was breaking to pieces on the bathroom floor. And so while she stood nude, wrapped in a towel I immediately-after washed, I hand-washed her soiled suit in the sink with a mild detergent and dried it with my blow-drier. I was repulsed by my hands sharing sink with the details of the situation, but didn’t let on. I dried her tears with clean hands, because she was going to be just fine, slipped her right back into her salvaged swimsuit, pulled a fresh towel off the hook and walked down to the water holding her hand tightly. No one knew. No one ever had to know.