The summer camp brochures are spread out on the coffee table. It’s decision day – no more delays or procrastinating.
It shouldn’t be a big deal – should it? Just pick a camp and off the child goes with the arrival of summer.
So, why have we been talking about this for the past few months?
The questions swirl. What is this friend doing? When is that friend going? How much money is this one? What are the hours of that one? What trips is this one doing? What kind of activities does that one have?
When did camp get so complicated? There are so many options to satisfy every possible desire. If there was just one camp – take it or leave it – it would be so much easier. Of course in this generation, where every whim must be satisfied, the endless choice of camps is par for the course.
What if we turned the table over? What if we dumped all the brochures?
What if we didn’t send our kids to summer camp?
Uhh – what did he say? Did he say “no camp”? He did not say “no camp.”
Yeah, I did say “no camp.”
Now, it’s not that camp doesn’t have its positives – a number of which are noted in a recent Washington Post article I read – but …
You see, back in my day …
I hate making those kind of statements that make me seem old.
But damn it, some things really were better. Or at least simpler.
The majority of my summer days consisted of knocking on my friends’ doors. No, there wasn’t a play date arranged. I simply knocked and hoped. Or they did the same for me. Crazy, ain’t it.
Anyway, one of my best friends lived across the street, and another was down the block. It would be the three of us and some other combo of kids in our neighborhood.
We played stick ball, Wiffle ball, wire ball, basketball, football and more. Yup, we played just about any sport that was out there that included a ball.
There were occasional trips to the area pool, fast food restaurant, and the pharmacy (for baseball cards, sodas, and candy bars). Throw in a week or so of vacation and, periodically, some sort of neighborhood summer camp.
And that was pretty much it.
Yes, we watched a lot of television and occasionally got bored. But that’s OK.
How about a list of things you can gain from a July and August sans summer camp?
There were not scheduled events. We played the game the majority wanted or pouted on the side.
If we wanted to do something different, it was up to us to come up with something.
There were no counselors or parents around (some parents might have been home but did not come outside while we were playing). We made the rules, and we made the decisions.
I could go on and give more details, but I’ll spare you. The point is there was a lot gained from being “free range kids.”
So, what If I left my kids on the streets this summer?
No, of course I won’t.
The world has changed. I get it.
So, I don’t turn the table over. Instead, my wife and I pick camps with the boys and hope that they will find them fun, engaging and interesting.