Today we dropped off Steph at camp, an adventure that always includes visiting my graffiti-scrawled name on the uppermost ceiling rafter of every cabin (higher than everyone else's, of course), along with the year and the name of whatever boyfriend I was in "love" with at that point. We also visited Julie's friend as she settled in to her cabin. Julie is very eager to go to camp but recognizes that she's not yet ready to sleep away from home. (She has had only one successful overnight so far.) She would love every minute of the day and evening, but then she would get sad at bedtime. Maybe next year! As for Pete, he has no interest whatsoever.
On the ride up, I told my usual camp stories, including Steph's favorite: When I was 12, there was a new girl, whose name I remember—and always reveal when I tell the story—but won't give here in case she's Googling herself. She was the most unappealing girl imaginable: overweight, loud, smelly, frizzy hair, zitty face, Coke-bottle glasses, braces, and so on. No one liked her, but some of the other girls were downright mean to her. They put sand in her bed, whispered and giggled at her, taunted her, etc. One day the counselors called me aside and told me they wanted to talk about her. M—, they said, was obviously having a terrible time at camp and was very sad because she hadn't made any friends. At this point I piped up with something like, "Oh man [This was the '70s after all!], are you going to make me be friends with her?!" They said, "No. We just wanted to say that M— named you as one of the only girls who is never mean to her. We just wanted to thank you for being kind to her. You have made the last couple of weeks bearable for her."
Obviously I never forgot this story. I tell my kids in all situations, "You don't have to become friends with everyone, but you do have to be kind to everyone." I also tell Steph to stay as far away as possible from the drama queens (and with teenage girls, there are more every year) and their all-encompassing dramas that end up pitting one girl against another whether they're really involved in the drama or not. Steph is not a drama queen in the least, but I can totally imagine her getting sucked into that stuff if she's not careful.