Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

October 30, 2006

savannah: summer camp

Savannah has nothing but wonderful memories of elementary school and considering her home life at the time she is very lucky to have experienced a kind and understanding teacher.

"There were five children in my family when I started school and we were exceptionally poor," confides Savannah. "We never had enough to eat and we never had enough warm clothes to protect us in winter."

"I was the eldest and my whole life changed when I started school."

"My first teacher took me under her wing and bought me new clothes and shoes and made sure that my belly was full," says Savannah.

"That teacher even visited my home and got the whole community involved in helping my parents."

"She was an angel."

"But what I treasure most about that teacher - and my elementary school days - was the camp she took my class to one summer."

"She paid for all the children who couldn't afford to attend," says Savannah.

"Some of the children had been to the beach and seen the ocean before starting school," says Savannah, "but it was all new to me."

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw so much water!"

"Mom used to give us a bath in a tub every week - the same water for all of us - so I had the joy of experiencing not only a running shower for washing myself at night but also a whole sea of water to play with."

"That camp introduced me to a life I never knew existed for ordinary people," laughs Savannah.

"I was given food I had never seen or tasted before - and I slept in a bunk bed with clean crisp white sheets and a pillow so fluffy that my head sunk in it!"

"I didn't have any pajamas or a toothbrush like the other kids - and on the first day at the camp the teacher who supervised the showers made me feel embarrassed that I never cleaned my teeth or wore anything to bed besides my underwear."

"My fairy godmother teacher tucked me into bed that night and told me not to worry - she would fix things for me," says Savannah, "and she gave me a nice little kiss on my forehead - it was the first time in my life anyone had shown affection towards me - not even my mother had kissed me goodnight!"

'"The next day a pair of pink pajamas and a new toothbrush appeared on my bed."

"I was six years old when I went on this camp and although I have been away lots of times since then I still remember that camp as being the best holiday I have ever had."

"Not just because it was the first time I'd seen the ocean and played in the sand - or slept in a nice bed - or eaten great food - or cleaned my teeth with a toothbrush - but because my teacher made me feel special."

"Every one of the girls on that camp got tucked into bed and kissed goodnight by my teacher - but I think I was the only girl who experienced that sort of affection for the very first time."

"When I got home I shared everything I had learned with my little brothers and sisters," says Savannah.

"I became the affectionate mother that they - and I - never had."

"I'd read them stories from books my special teacher gave me and I'll tell how big the ocean is - and I'd tuck them up in bed with a goodnight kiss on their foreheads."

"What I never shared with them was my toothbrush," laughs Savannah. "I kept in under my pillow and was too afraid to use it less it wear out."

"I aimed to be an elementary teacher from then onwards," laughs Savannah, "but by the time I got to high school I aimed a lot higher."

"Being made to feel special gave me the confidence I needed to change my life - and that of those around me - and I have a extraordinary elementary teacher to thank for all that."

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