I was alone on an island with 45 girls and women. I lived to tell about it. It was that crazy.
It is unbelievable how girls and women behave when you are the only man around. It probably sounds like the perfect situation, but it turned out to be the perfect storm.
We were staying on three Hawaiian islands, Maui, Kaui, and Ohau, at college preparatory boarding schools — during summer break. We stayed for two weeks at each one for a total of six weeks. They were all in very remote locations with beautiful scenery.
It was a girls diet camp. Most of the girls and women were not fat but from wealthy families who wanted them to learn healthier eating and exercise habits. The first two years were held at a Lake Tahoe hotel. The last year was in Hawaii.
I worked at the camp for all three years. I started in the kitchen in Lake Tahoe. In Hawaii, I assisted the camp director with camp activities and transportation and advised the (all-female) kitchen staff on recipes and food prep as needed.
I wasn’t fully aware that I would be the only male on staff. But I was only 19-20, so I wasn’t fully aware of anything. Looking back, I don’t think the camp director knew ahead of time that I’d be the only guy on the entire campus.
The girls and women ranged in age from 13 to 18. Those who were 13-14 had a crush on me. Those who were 15-16 were in love with me. Those who were 17-18 hated me and all the other girls.
Those who were 17-18 were also the heaviest ones — by far in a few cases. This fact probably led to their jealousy and hatred toward the slimmer, younger girls and me.
The spiteful things that went on were totally unfamiliar territory for me. There were unjustified complaints, nasty comments, and group bullying by the 17-18 year-olds all directed toward the younger girls and me. The younger girls would respond in kind as best the could. I confronted 17-18 year-olds at first but found it more effective to just blow them off. The camp director picked up on what was going on and controlled it pretty well. But subtle tensions remained throughout the six-week camp.
Here are a few crazy things that happened with the 13 to 16 year-olds.
One night I strolled down to the dining hall building and found seven of the girls sitting in a circle talking. They immediately invited me to join them. I suggested we tell scary stories like we had at the summer camps I attended. They insisted I tell them such a story.
Before I tell you the story and the crazy way the girls reacted, I need to describe the scene to you. The dining hall was a huge room. The only lights were a few low dim ceiling lights around the outer perimeter of the room. We could hear strong howling winds pushing against the windows and doors and making them raddle. Strong winds are common in Hawaii.
I told them the ancient Hawaiian ghost story about the Night Marchers. They are said to be Hawaiian warriors that wander the islands at night. If you hear their drums or marching you’re told not to make eye contact and run inside or you’ll die. I embellished the story by putting them on flying white horses and telling them they only come out on windy nights. 😛
Before I could even finish the story most of the girls suddenly became hysterical, panicky, and began crying. Unable to calm them down, I ran and got the camp director. She tried in vain to quiet them.
To my astonishment, the girls had to be helped to a van and driven a ridiculously short distance to their dorm. Talk about drama! It still puzzles me. Needless to say, I never told another scary story.
Here’s a different, but more shocking incident.
Late one night, the three prettiest 15-16 year-old girls come to my dorm room. They were wearing babydoll nites, which startled me. I was the only person staying in that particular dorm building. Knowing that I was beyond an adult age and the girls were minors and what that meant legally, I immediately told them to go back to their rooms in a nice but firm way. I’ve sighed with relief many times over the years at the good judgment I had at such a young age.
Then there were the notes — pre-internet, smartphones, and texting.
I received many, mostly anonymous, notes. I got “puppy love” notes from, I assumed, the 13-16 year-old girls and critical ones from, I’m sure, the 17-18 year-old women. I did not respond to any of them. It felt strange when I later ran into a signed note writer. They didn’t say anything about the note and neither did I.
That is just a sampling of what went on during that summer. It was a very unpleasant experience. I learned a lot though. And the places we visited were beautiful. But I’d “never” do it again.