Dear Camp Wachakaju Photographer —
I’ll start off with the positive. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of my nine-year-old twins. I probably could have stopped at hundreds, except they often refuse to look at the camera and smile so many of my multiple shots are wasted and everyone gets mad at me for trying to capture my love for them on film.
From the pictures you’ve taken of my children that are posted on the Camp Wachakaju website, I believe you have done a great job getting them to smile, focus, and show the world that they are the shining stars I know they can be. In particular, the picture of my daughter at archery with a wry, confident smile and a joyful side glance at your camera is one that I will treasure for a long time.
That’s the good news.
However, I have to admit that I’m more than a bit dismayed — actually offended — at what I believe is blatant favoritism towards some of the more “conventionally attractive” campers who dominate the pictures you post. As I peruse the website nightly, I have noticed that there are dramatically fewer pictures of the average-looking, toothsome, fleshy children (my twins, for example — but I’m sure there are other parents who share my outrage). In fact, there are no pictures at all of my children from the 2nd through 4th days of camp. I looked. I looked hard. I believe I deserve an explanation.
So far I’ve seen a ton of pictures of the camp dances, games, concerts, swim meets, elite initiation rituals, and bunk follies. There are thousands of pictures and my kids are only in three. If I’m being repetitive, it’s to prove a point: we pay a lot of money for this camp and we expect a lot of pictures.
I became immediately suspicious of your image-shaming of my kids when I saw so many shots on the camp site of this one girl who looks like a young Farrah Fawcett (only still with her baby teeth). I don’t know her name, but she seems to be your little star. Your muse perhaps? There’s also a boy with an adorable cowlick and a uni-brow who is featured in way too many of these images — perhaps for comedic relief? He’s not conventionally cute, but he does obviously have a lot of personality.
Do the camp directors force you to find only the interesting — and attractive — looking children to photograph for the website? Are these kids’ parents paying extra? If so, why weren’t we informed that we could pay extra for this? I cannot help that my children have facial features that they haven’t quite grown into yet. Should they then be shunned? My children are very interesting! They know all the words to Hamilton! Why isn’t that reflected in the photo section of your website??
Look, we feel fortunate to be able to send our kids to “The Wach” and we are not asking for a lot in return. Last year, I had an expectation that in the course of the three-week session, the counselors would be able to solve my son’s eating issues with vegetables and his fear of socks. When that didn’t happen I started looking at other sleepaway camps that might be better at the lifestyle rehabilitation we needed. However, my kids loved Wachakaju so much we decided to try again this year. I specifically pulled aside their counselors at drop-off to explain that we would appreciate it if they could convince both our children that screen time was for “losers,” and that Minecraft was “stupid,” and that no one needs three iPads.
Obviously, the summer isn’t over yet and I still hold out hope that they will come back to us no longer ready to throw impromptu temper tantrums if they don’t get more than one mix-in at the Froyo place or start fighting over who gets to sit in the front seat of the Prius. If their entire personalities haven’t been sufficiently adjusted by the time they get back, I will seriously be looking at summer camps that are more concerned with having a lasting impact on my children’s self-esteem and less focused on wasting money for new inflatable docks.
It’s frustrating that due to the “Wach Rules” I haven’t been able to talk to them nor have they been able to speak to their therapists if they want, but I sometimes sense from the website pics that they might not be invited to some of these group activities you photograph because of their Roman noses. If that’s an issue for you as an “artist,” then fine, I can live without more profile shots of them. At least get me a shot of them joyfully playing capture the flag for their next birthday party montage.
As you can tell this is quite upsetting to my wife and me. Because of your obvious bias, we’ve had to purposefully withhold website access from their grandparents whose blood sugar fluctuates drastically if they don’t see happy, smiling pictures of their grandchildren. I don’t want to sound mean, but yes, their seizures could be your fault.
Luckily my children don’t yet know how they are being bullied by your non-photographing of them, but my next step is to write a strongly worded letter to the camp director, create an online poll for the fellow parents, and also comment on Yelp For Camps. Yes, that is a thing.
I would appreciate a quick reply as there are only two weeks left of camp and I shudder to think how many pictures of Color War my children will not be featured in.
Just call me,
A Loving Dad