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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Maybe There Should Be Camps for Parents
It’s the first week of April and I have not signed my children up for summer camp yet. The squares on my calendar spanning from the middle of June to the end of August – the 10 full weeks that make up summer vacation -- are blank.
I am at once calm and panicked. I am proud not to have succumbed to the pressure to plan our summer schedule half a year in advance. I am terrified that those summer days will blend into weeks and then months of whining boredom.
Like Christmas decorations, the camp brochures seem to arrive earlier each year. Glossy pamphlets began filling my mail box in early February. Sorting the mail tempts me to live not in the moment, but to propel myself months into the future. On a cold, grey, mid-winter afternoon, I give in and anticipate what we’ll be doing the first week in August.
I imagine spontaneously packing up the car with a cooler and towels to head off to the beach looking like some family out of the Lands' End catalog. I picture us taking long bike rides, going on picnics, working a lemonade stand, making hand-cranked ice cream. But experience tells me that after a few days of hanging out with Mom, my kids will crave time with their friends. And their friends won’t be free to join us on an outing to the beach. They will all be in camp.
With resignation, I settle down to register fearing most camps will already be full. I sift through the pile of promotions. The possibilities are endless, overwhelming, and the cost often outrageous. I’ll need a spread sheet and a GPS device just to figure out whether I can promptly deliver two children to two different camps in opposite directions during the correct week – the week their best friends can also attend. (I have been known to show up at last week’s sports camp only to realize that my child is currently attending art camp on the other side of town.)
My 7-year-old daughter and I narrow the choices down to horseback riding, musical theater, cooking, ceramics, and gymnastics. My 11-year-old son considers soccer, kayaking, clay animation, golf, newspaper reporting, and fencing. Suddenly, there are not enough weeks of summer (or dollars in my bank account) to accommodate their preferences let alone squeeze in a family vacation.
I throw up my hands in dismay. I want to go to camp.
By Tina Bournazos Stumble This Post