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Camp Counselor Called ‘Harsh’ For Excluding Homophobic Bully From Group Hiking Trip

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An 18-year-old male Redditor works as a camp counselor and was faced with a disciplinary challenge.

He noticed that one of the kids–whose ages range between 10 and 14–was having a difficult time fitting in but chalked it up to homesickness.

It turns out he was wrong, and when he found out what was really bothering him, he confronted the source of the issue.

But when his course of action was criticized by his fellow counselors, he visited the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit and asked:

“AITA for excluding a bully from an activity?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I’m (18m) working as a camp counselor, the kids ages range between 10-14 boys. We have both in-door and out-door activities and the kids get to pick one out of two activities for 7 periods, meaning that there are two activities going at the same time.”

“Now, there is this kid (13 male) who’s been having a hard time adjusting, I try my best to make sure everyone gets mingle with the rest but he insists in being my pair for activities, I chalked it up to feeling homesick or being shy in general.”

“Yesterday night, he confided to me that one of the kids (14 male) have been calling him a f***t and telling the other boys not to come near him because he has a disease and will make them gay too.”

“He was pretty emotional saying this and then he started crying, I helped him calm down and let him stay in the counselor’s rooms while I talk to the bully.”

“The bully, insisted that 13 m was lying and that he never said those things, but all the other kids admitted that the bully did. After that, I took him and I asked him why he would say such things and he said he doesn’t want a f*g sleeping in the same room as him.”

“I gave him the ‘gay people are still people’ speech but it didn’t seem to work. Then I told him that tomorrow he won’t be coming hiking, since I won’t be putting 13m in danger, he started crying and saying that he was looking forward to hiking all week and that he really wanted to go, but I set my foot down on it and said that actions have consequences.”

“Yesterday, the bully came with the other kids for hiking, I used it as an opportunity to make him apologize in front of the rest to 13 m about what he said, he again refused. I sent him to the other activity which was art, telling him that he can join us tomorrow if he’ll apologize.”

“He started crying again, but I insisted on him going. The rest of the counselors think that I’m being to harsh on him and that he’s still a kid (probably) repeating what he hears at home.”

“I’m starting to feel guilty about it since the bully was sad all day and so was 13m.”

“So AITA??”

Strangers online were asked to declare one of the following:

  • NTA – Not the A**hole
  • YTA – You’re the A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everybody Sucks Here

Many Redditors felt that the OP was not the a**hole here.

“NTA. He’s 13, he’s old enough to understand consequences. He probably does hear it at home so it’s good that he finds out that it’s not acceptable say those things.” – Low_Kaleidoscope_203

“NTA. You even gave him an opportunity to go if he apologized and he doubled down in it.”

“He clearly didn’t want to go that bad and figured you would just cave. Kid needs to learn and it’s good that you’re teaching him a lesson.” – Foxdenfreude

“NTA. He’s 13, not 3. He still got to do an activity. He must learn his actions have consequences and he doesn’t get the privilege of doing his preferred fun activity if he is going to be a bully.”

“If I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t let him do the art thing that day either if that was allowed.” – catfoodonmyshelf

“NTA. Thanks for being a great ally and for helping to make one your person know they matter. Bullies need to be called to account. You offered him the chance to do the activity if he apologised and he refused. It’s all on him.” – Delicious_Wish8712

“NTA if there are not concequences how will he ever learn. The bullied child should choose activites and the other child should get whats left until a real apology.”

“That being said, if other counselors disagree you much have a higher authority say a camp director, and rules to guide your behavior. 18years old is young to be making policy.”

“I think this could easily be a one warning and second offense you are sent home. Who makes that determination in your camp.”

“well done but get higher authority involved.” – Rowing4life19

“NTA, having rules of conduct clearly defined to have the privilege of participating in activities should be clearly stated in writing, during orientation, for the parents and campers to ensure everyone knows what behaviors are expected and what won’t be tolerated.”

“That way, you can say camper violated Rule number blah blah and therefore cannot participate in this activity.”

“It was good you gave him a chance to take responsibility and make amends. It is unfortunate he dug in his heels and refused. Not going hiking was a reasonable consequence for his bad behavior.” – Ema630

“Nta. Did you contact his parents? That might not help though, because he learned how he’s acting from somewhere.”

“If it’s a paid camp, and there’s a contract, I’m sure there’s a clause that harassing another camper being grounds for sending him home with no refund.”

“He’s old enough to know actions have consequences. Tell him tears work for babies that want bottles and a diaper change.” – No-Personality5421

“This is an unexpectedly tricky one. Of course NTA for protecting the kid who was being bullied.”

“I do think that you should have brought in your supervisor/director to ensure that the bully got more than just a time-out. While he deserved to miss the trip, it also just leaves him angry, without any real motivation to stop bullying, and honestly some real anger to take out on other kids.”

“There needs to be another step here so he really gets the message that his behavior HURTS PEOPLE, it doesn’t just exclude him from fun.” – rustblooms

“NTA and good for you. If my kid was getting bullied at camp and the counselor allowed it to happen I’d be asking for a refund. Next step is calling the parents and sending him home if it continues.”

“Even if the parents use that language I’m sure they don’t want the kid back at home and want the break, I imagine or hope they would tell there kid to behave and be better to the kid.” – jgl1313

“NTA! Omg I had a very similar thing happen to me when I was teaching. I had one little kid that was a complete sh*t and he broke another kids project on purpose. Would NOT apologize so I made him sit out for 1.5hrs .”

“His mom complained later that she didn’t think that was fair, all I said was I didn’t think what he did was fair to other student. And that ladies and gentlemen is why is one of the reasons I don’t teach anymore but bless those that still have the heart to do it.” – stacie_draws_

“NTA. If the victim isn’t gay, one or more of the other kids probably are. When they grow up, they’ll appreciate the fact that you stood up for them. Also, the bully has to learn that bullying will have consequences. It’s for his benefit, too.” – smallishdevil

“NTA. This kid should have been sent home. Especially after refusing to apologize or acknowledge how wrong his behavior was.” – – MainEgg320

A surprising turn of events led the OP to update his post.”

“So I called the parents of the bully to come pick him up to send him home, they said that they understand why we’re sending home etc.”

“When I came back that night for lights out, 13 m told me that the bully apologized to him and admitted feelings for him, he said that he didn’t know how to process those feelings and that bullying 13 m made him notice him (the bully), so he kept on doing it.”

“13m showed me the gift 14m made for him in art as an apology, it was those friendship bracelets but it was rainbow with ‘sorry’ written on it. So um, plot twist????”

“I talked to the bully and he said that he already apologized in front of the kids too, and that he’s going to do better.”

“I called the parents to tell them that there will be no need for them to pick him up anymore, but he’ll still have to do art instead of hiking for 3 days just to be safe.”

Redditors praised the OP for the way he handled the situation.

Now that things appear to be settled, hopefully, everyone at the camp will enjoy a harmonious rest of their remaining time together.

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a Los Angeles based actor whose work has been spotted anywhere from Broadway stages to Saturday Night Live.
He received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese.
In addition to being a neophyte photographer, he is a huge Disney aficionado and is determined to conquer all Disney parks in the world to publish a photographic chronicle one day. Mickey goals.
Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1 Flickr: nyckmo