Family life

Do you send your kids to summer camp?

Tracy can't believe she's plunging into the world of camp scheduling while snow is still on the ground

By Tracy Chappell
Do you send your kids to summer camp?

Hurray for summer camp? This is how Tracy imagines Anna's summer. Photo: Lighttruth via Flickr

I haven’t had to worry about this particular issue before. Until now, both my kids continued on in their preschool three days a week over the summer, just as they did the rest of the year. The preschool also solved our new scheduling issues as Anna started school and we were faced with two weeks of Christmas holidays and many, many PA days (I had no idea there would be one every month!). Anna can always just go there when her school is closed.
But now, the next frontier: summer holidays. Technically, I could put Anna at the preschool the three days a week that I work, but I need to get her out of there. She’s outgrown it (she’s turning six soon!), and as I mentioned last week, there’s a chance it might be closing altogether. The solution (at least for one kid) is to wade into the waters of summer camp.

I never went to summer camp myself, and don't remember any of my friends going either. My dad worked shift work and my mom worked part-time, so I guess they just made it work. Geesh — what did I do all summer? I think we just hung out. But I'm actually really excited to give Anna a chance to spend her summer trying out new things. I only hope she agrees.
But who knew I’d have to start thinking about this now, in February? At the YMCA, the schedule was out in January and when I discovered that spots were quickly filling, I spontaneously signed Anna up for a two-week aquatics camp. So there’s two weeks taken care of. One week we’ll be on holiday. I gave my mom my best puppy-dog eyes last weekend and asked if she’d be willing to take her lovely granddaughter for a week this summer (she said yes! Hurray!).
So …I guess I have a few more weeks to fill. Our Parks & Rec guide should be out soon, and the gymnastics club has camps too, though I think they’re pretty pricey. Funny — I called them to see if their summer camp schedule was out and the woman exclaimed, “Summer?! We’re just figuring out our March break camp!” Now I don’t feel like I’m so behind.
I remember hearing my sister stress over the jigsaw puzzle of summer care — piecing together camps, programs and vacation days, while making sure the kids also have plenty of that all-important downtime to just enjoy the beauty of the too-short summer months. And part of me feels a little anxious about sending Anna off to random places each week, so I’ll have to do some digging to make sure I feel confident of the care and supervision she’ll have.
I hope that I can find camps that don’t require a weeklong commitment or I’ll never see poor Anna. And I am thinking about checking in with our neighbour who babysits the girls sometimes, to see if she’ll entertain Anna for one three-day stint.
Do you put your kids in summer camps, or do you make other summer care arrangements? And if you put kids in overnight camp, how old were they when they started (I’m definitely not planning that for Anna this year, but wondered how common it is to put six-year-olds in overnight camp)?

Photo by Lighttruth via Flickr

This article was originally published on Feb 15, 2012

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