From the original Parent Trap to Lindsay Lohan's back-in-the-day remake, summer camp looked like a whole lot of fun.
I can remember imagining what it would be like to trade braided bracelets, sing songs by the bonfire and gossip about boys with the girls in my bunk. I even got to experience some of the glory of summer camp second hand when I worked as a lifeguard during my high school years.
But for all of the imagined or real fun that it brought into my life, there is one thing that I know for sure about summer camp — my kids will never go to one.
Maybe it depends on where you live, but summer camp seems to be one of those hit-or-miss things in our neck of the woods. As in, some families really get into it and some families are just like, what the heck is summer camp? You mean that tent in our backyard?
As for us, I just don't see the appeal. My oldest is already gone seven hours of the day the majority of the year and frankly, I am just looking forward to having her around more over the summer. I live for that more relaxed, slower-paced lifestyle of summer and, can you say, ice cream for dinner? Or it could be because I grew up with a mother who was a teacher, so summer will forever equal vacation mode in my mind.
I guess I get the argument that some kids really prefer summer camp to staying home and being bored out of their minds, but it's important to me for my kids to have the kind of carefree, unstructured summers that I had growing up. Cousins playing in packs, stained fingers from picking raspberries right out of the bushes, butter on freshly picked corn on the cob. To me, the best learning my kids will ever experience will happen because of the freedom of summer.
Granted, that freedom also comes at the hands of having the freedom to have an at-home parent, so I take my own advice with a grain of salt. I'm fully aware that not every family has the luxury of a stay-at-home parent and trust me when I say that after years of working night shifts as a nurse, I don't take that gift for granted. Which is why I feel like I don't want to squander my time with my kids by shipping them off to summer camps. Plus, they're expensive. In my mind, summer camp just seems like yet another way for parents to feel like they have to fork out cash to ensure that their kid is constantly entertained and educated.
But really, it's OK for kids to be bored and just have a summer spent doing absolutely nothing.
Obviously, every family is different and for some kids, summer camp is the highlight of their whole year. But if you're anything like me and guilty of wondering if your kids are somehow missing out by skipping summer camp, I say skip the debate and join the relaxing side at home. Cheers to backyard sprinklers and camping where there's actual coffee.
It's not half bad here. Now I wonder what our super secret camp song and handshake should be?
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