Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae
Our family has been in survival mode for a year. We managed to continue with schooling, but we didn’t get out much.
When we finally came up for air, my husband and I wanted to give our kids some bonus fun, a chance to get out of the house and be around other kids.
Fortunately, summer was on the horizon and there was a plethora of summer camp options to choose from.
Learning AND socialization? SIGN. US. UP. We let each of our boys pick one activity and then we committed to getting them there.
Getting them there really was a commitment. For a family that stays home most days, getting out and shuttling kids Monday through Friday was exhausting! Soccer Moms – I commend you! But I was excited to see all the things my kids could learn that I didn’t have to teach them myself.
After the first day of cooking camp, I had the following conversation with my son -
So, how was it?
Did you have fun?
What did you do at cooking camp?
“I got to cut up some stuff.”
Did you cook anything?
“The teacher did. We watched. But it tasted good. We ate a little and then the staff finished it.”
My tuition fees fed the camp’s staff all week. I was thrilled to be able to serve them in this way, of course. And I was equally thrilled to hear that my son’s favorite experience from cooking camp was getting to swim during recess.
Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled – she said through gritted teeth.
I held out hope for the next week’s art camp but the outcome was pretty much the same. One craft a day followed by movie time. Even my son admitted to being slightly disappointed. But he made friends and ate junk food, so the week was a Win in his book.
Most recently, my six-year-old went to “Pirate Camp” at the local children’s science museum. I had no idea what sort of science they would pull out of the pirate theme, but like most summer camps, pesky details like actual learning didn’t weigh anybody down.
Each day after five hours at camp, my son climbed into the backseat, his grinning lips stained red from high-fructose corn syrup laden beverages, and we’d have this conversation:
So how was it?
“Good. We watched a movie about pirates. And we made a pirate puppet.”
Great! What science did you do?
“Ummmmm, we went onto the third floor of the museum.”
Isn’t that the floor with the Dora the Explorer exhibit?
“Yes. I played with blocks.”
So here’s what I learned -
- Nobody takes a child’s learning as serious as his parents do.
- Most summer camps are simply glorified day care.
- Too much red kool-aid can wreak havoc on uninitiated bowels.
- My kids had a ball, I didn’t have to do any work except chauffeuring, and we still got to count these as school days.
Because I am a mean and cruel mother, you’d better believe I’ll be making the cooking camp kid make us dinner this week. And I’ll require written paragraphs from the other two all about “What I Learned At Summer Camp.”
But beyond that, I think we’ll just revel in the fun they had and the lesson I learned: Nobody schools my kids like I would.
Have you tried summer camps? Give me some suggestions for how to pick next year.