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As the summer comes to an end, I caught myself reading the article: So. Many. Camps. From sports to science, what happened to summer? It brought me back to years ago when I was a camp counselor.
Did I ever tell you the one about how I got a job 3,000 miles away from home? It was kinda crazy, but after watching a reality tv show, I applied and got accepted as a counselor at an east coast a sleep-away camp. Yes. Like the ones in the movies.
It’s definitely a job that I’ll never forget, but the best part of it now is that I learned so much from it. Almost 20 years later, I’ve seen first hand what it is to try to get kids involved for the whole summer and what it looks like when things go overboard.
What type of summer did you have this year? See if you were extreme, medium or light!
On the east coast it’s common for kids to go off to sleep away camp for either part of the summer or the whole summer. In places like New York City and Boston, kids who’s parents can afford it spend summers away from the city. Places like Maine and New Hampshire fill up with camp kids.
In extreme cases these kids are already at boarding schools which means they are at sleep away school, come home for a week or sometimes even a few days, then go off to camp for 4 and sometimes 8 weeks, (many camps have 2 week options, but most kids seemed to be there for longer) then back home for a few days before returning to boarding school for the next 8 months.
It’s a very old school British way of raising your kids, and as much as I want to say it’s hurtful to these kids, about 90% of the kids I had in my cabin or in my care at the camp are extremely successful and well adjusted considering their detachment from mom and dad during those years.
Many two income families have to deal with daycare issues in the summer and it’s not crazy for kids in our area to go to either day soccer camp or spend a week at a sleep away camp, but it’s not the kind of thing where the kid does this every summer. It’s more of a “scrimp and save to afford it” kind of thing.
Stay at home parents are scrambling as far as trying to entertain their kids. Play dates and trips to the library. High priority is keeping kids from trashing the house! In our family many times we have to deal with extreme heat so finding indoor activities is a must!
Two summers ago we did a lot of things, but centered our activities around swim lessons. It’s a right of passage that I couldn’t pass up, especially for the price that we paid. Two sessions and Bootsie really got the hang of being in the water.
Last summer we got a family gym membership and spent the entire summer going between the playroom daycare center (2 hours of kid free time for mommy) and the pool. I do have to say that I thought that the kids would get bored with this, but for 8 weeks we spent at least 4 days a week in the water and it turns out Bootsie (now 6) can swim like a fish due to the exposure to the pool.
This summer we’ve planned a lot of activities, but lot of plans seems to fall by the wayside. Our one constant was karate classes sometimes 3 times a week and sometimes less. It was only a half hour at a time. Great, but it limited where we could go in any given day due to class times.
We also had plans to get together with a long list of people. A lot didn’t happen. We were more spontaneous than I thought we’d be. Our big event of the summer was to go to the Lake. Five whole days of camping and boating with daddy.
I remember not having huge amounts of things to do in the summer. I think though it’s because we always ended up traveling on our summer vacations with our parents. Our involvement might not have been structured, but it was educational since most summers we flew out of state to visit family.
It’s not a horrible way to spend a summer, but so many parents I know feel like their kids are missing out if they don’t do something scheduled over the summer. Leaving kids to their own accord usually means that the kids end up in front of the tv or tablets.
What’s the deal?
Nothing in this article was new information. My 6 year old and my 3.5 year old have been in school for three years already. I’ve already tried to schedule at least some activities through the summer. This summer has been a whirlwind of activity. It might be premature, I’m already thinking of things to do next summer!