Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Potential Threat at Camp Taints Experience

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a girl’s camp supervisor, and lately things have been getting a little weird at our campsite. There have been rumors about a potential threat on our site, and it has put a lot of us supervisors on alert. We hold events most weekends in the spring and through the summer. Our job is to look after our kids and return them safe and sound to their parents at the end of the weekend, but our kids have been getting worried and too afraid to show up for camp. I don’t want them to be alarmed, but I also don’t know how to bring up such a harsh topic to 10-year-olds. What should I do? -- On Alert, Richmond, Virginia

DEAR ON ALERT: Your first responsibility is to research the threat thoroughly so that you can be clear about what the concern is. Figure that out with the camp leadership. Determine how you will safeguard the children and what measures they should be told to take to ensure their safety. Next, the parents need to be contacted so that they are fully informed about whatever the threat is. Even if it is a baseless threat, parents should be informed and told what you have done to verify its existence or lack thereof. Explain to the parents how you will protect their daughters when they come to camp.

You will have some parents choose to pull their children out of the camp, but many will stay if they feel that you have taken the proper steps to keep their children safe.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I have been together for three years now, and he still hasn't proposed. I feel like it's time to settle down and have kids, but I know that he doesn't feel the same way. I want take my chances and propose. My best friend and I just went to a jewelry store to pick up this lovely ring that I think my boyfriend will love.

Last night, my boyfriend brought up the fact that he loves how slow our relationship is going. I want to get engaged, but now I feel like we will never be on the same page. Should I go ahead with the proposal? -- At a Crossroads, Shreveport, Louisiana

DEAR AT A CROSSROADS: You just said yourself that you “know that he doesn’t feel the same way.” Shoving a ring at him -- no matter how beautifully you package it -- will not likely change his mind. In fact, it could make for an extremely awkward moment followed by hurt feelings. I do not recommend that you propose and present the ring.

Talk to him about your ideas about the future and how you would like it to unfold. You can tell him that you would like to discuss the idea that he just mentioned, namely that he enjoys how slowly things are going in your relationship. Ask him exactly what he means by that. Do not assume that you understand. Let him articulate his feelings. Then ask him to listen to your feelings. Tell him that you want to get married soon, and you would like to marry him. Ask him how he feels about that. Hear whatever he says, because he will be telling you his truth.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)