It’s Time For Summer Camp, Not Boot Camp
I have always loved summer. I am usually cold (maybe I am part reptile), so while everyone else is complaining about the heat I am basking in the sun. I also love that it stays light out until the wee hours of the night. My favorite days are those long days in July and August that heat up to triple digits and then cool off at sunset to my perfect temperature between eighty-five and ninety degrees.
Of course, I also loved the wonderfully long days as a kid, not having to go to school and just playing at my leisure with my sister or friends. Don’t get me wrong, I also liked school quite a bit. But it was the two and a half months of boring freedom that made me salivate in late August for the return to the educational arena.
My parents did put us in a couple of camps. I remember spending some mornings and afternoons at Expanding Horizons, a camp that centered mostly around nature and arts. I also attended a couple of Girl Scout camps during the summer. Although these were not my cup of tea (I am not the outdoor type), I still appreciate the myriad of fun activities that they offered, including swimming and making s’mores.
Boy is camp today different. Have you looked at what kind of camps you can send your kids to now? There’s the old standbys of art, hiking and the outdoors. But if you listen to the social circles, these are not the camps at the top of parent’s lists. Today’s parents want “educational” camps: math camps, writing camps, robotics camps, and computer camps. No child is too young. Have a preschooler? They have “early achiever” and “early reading” camps. Want you kid to learn French or Spanish? No problem; there are camps for that, too. Think your kid is too pudgy? They have special fitness camps for that. Even the arts and sports camps are intense. You can have you child go to a young actors camp to “develop their resume”. You can have them go to an all-day surf camp that promises to have them standing up in a week. There are music camps that promise intense “keyboard study and note reading”. Just reading the list of possible camps is overwhelming.
Frankly, I think it’s just all a bit much. For starters, it’s camp, not school. It’s summer, for heaven’s sake. Nothing gets your child ready for another year of school like an entire summer…of school? Moreover, are they really necessary? Will your child become a pro-surfer or actor from going to these camps? Probably not. Even the educational camps are unnecessary. If you want your child to get in some extra education during the summer, take them to the bookstore and buy them some books. They have those “summer workbooks” if you are really desperate. But unless your kid was flunking a subject and needs summer school, they don’t need an educational boot-camp to keep their mind sharp.
Another consideration is the cost. Some of these camps run five hundred to eight hundred dollars per week. (Yes, you are doing the math right. Five weeks at camp can set you back by four thousand dollars). Maybe other parents don’t mind, but I am not paying more for my kid’s camp than I would for my own vacation.
Finally, what is it about our generation that prevents us from letting children actually being children? Our children are over-scheduled from morning to night from September through June. Do we really need to suck the fun out of July and August too? I think our generation sees absolutely no value in free play. But it is good for a number of reasons. It decreases kids’ stress and increases their mental health. It engages their creative side because it forces them to come up with their own ideas for play. It gives them independence because it allows them to budget their own time and adhere to their own schedule. It is actually a valuable tool, indeed, and best of all, it is free.
My daughter will be attending camp this summer, because during the week I have to work. I considered putting her in a fancy-dancy camp, but decided against it. I ended up choosing a nice, run-of-the-mill day camp, partially unscheduled, filled with choices, and supplemented with excursions to the beach and amusement parks. Part of me was persuaded by monetary considerations, but the overriding factor is that I want her to get a break. I want her to enjoy her summer. I want her to feel refreshed. And I want her to be so bored that when everyone else’s kid is complaining that they have to go back to school, she’ll be roaring to go.
I am mediocre mom!
Latest posts by Wendy Marcus (see all)
- THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH LEGOS - April 25, 2017
- Examining Equality in the Practice of Law: The Scales of Justice are Still Not Balanced - April 8, 2017
- Dear America:I think it’s time to consider a divorce - January 26, 2017