This post deals with sexual abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
While at university, I spent one summer holiday working at an overnight camp. I didn’t want to work at the camp - it was in the middle of nowhere. But I desperately needed the money before returning to uni, and the camp found my resume and reached out. They asked if I could teach archery, and oddly enough, I could.
I quickly became immersed in camp life and enjoyed it - for the most part. I loved the eight 12-year-olds in my group, I enjoyed spending time with the other camp staff, and because the camp was populated by an extremely wealthy cohort, the food and sleeping accommodations were incredible.
I became friends with the basketball coach, Ryan.* Ryan was a few years older than me. He and his brother both taught basketball at the camp - and on our nights off, the three of us would hang out and watch movies.
Ryan’s brother Sam* already had a girlfriend - so naturally, the other staff assumed that Ryan and I were an item. We weren’t; our relationship never became anything more than a platonic friendship.
Ryan was an attractive man with a quirky sense of humour. He didn’t drink much, and was very religious.
He was in charge of a group of young teenage boys, and he enjoyed talking to them about their budding interests in the girls. He had a weird willingness to try to help the boys in his bunk sneak out and “hook up” with the girl campers.
In hindsight, this bothers me greatly. After all, what well-adjusted adult is interested in the sex lives of children? It didn’t click for me at the time, though. I thought he was simply trying too hard to be the “cool” coach.
The summer ended, and Ryan and I both returned to our respective universities. We kept in touch off and on through email and instant messaging. We didn’t have too much in common. Still, we spoke for the next few years.
He graduated from university, he got engaged. I congratulated him. He moved, broke off his engagement, fell in love with someone new, got engaged again.
I stopped hearing from him shortly after that.
About a year had passed when I received a strange Facebook message from his younger brother, Jeremy*.
Hi Maggie, my name is Jeremy, I’m Ryan’s brother. Ryan has had to be offline for a few months now, but he wants to send you a letter. Can I have your mailing address please?
I showed the message to my boyfriend. “This is weird, right?”
“Yes,” he agreed. “I hope he’s okay though.”