Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't Talk to Me About Camp.


You may be asking yourself: "Why did this idiot write a blog post about summer camp right now? It's February. I'm still secretly pilfering leftover Valentine's Day candy after my kids go to sleep and wondering if the Polar Vortex is actually going to plunge us into a Narnia-like eternal winter."

I TOTALLY AGREE. It seems insane.

The other day my old pal Kate casually mentioned that she was already done signing up her kids for all their summer camps. Another mom we were chatting with nodded and said a few of her friends were done, too. It didn't really register with me and I was all: "Oh that's great! Congrats! Hey - what about that Downton Abbey finale?! Do you want an Altoid?" Then about three hours later I got an email from the Cub Scouts about the dates for their summer camps. Then a flier from the school about science camp. Then an email from the dance teacher about dance camps.

It was at that point that I developed a small urge to whimper rant. Because this is all wrong. For those of you who are awesome and have already gotten all this done, I sincerely say good for you. Also, I'm super impressed because how did you even do that?

I have zero ability to plan for this nonsense right now. Are you kidding me? It's supposed to snow another 1-3 inches tomorrow which means that school will probably be cancelled for the rest of the month. That means I have to plan emergency food, water, activities, home work, and child care for the rest of the week. And do our taxes. And it's not even Spring Break yet. It's not even March yet.

First of all, my kids will not go to any camps before the 4th of July this year. Why is that? Because we've had 10 snow days. So they will still be in school on July 4th.

Second of all, do you know how much camps cost? Camp is like daycare on steroids. Take what you spend on your average trip to Target and then triple it. That's what a week at camp costs where I live. And for what? I'm not exactly sure. All I know is - I still have to pack a damn lunch. Lego engineering camp to stir up all the STEM-y goodness in their little brains? Are you sure? What exactly are they doing in that room? I'm fairly certain they're just building stuff out of little bricks which is exactly what my son does in his room listening to Heroes of Olympus books on tape from the library for free.

Thirdly, camps all start and end at bizarro times. Because 10am-2pm? That makes total sense. That's awesome. Thanks, guys. This leads to a fun, relaxing summer activity I like to call "Logistics and Strategic Transportation Exercises for Multi-Child or Working Families" wherein you and your spouse negotiate the shit show of having to be in 4 places at one time, while negotiating who will be late to what in the most equitable manner possible. Because for my three kids of various ages, genders and interests - they are never, ever supposed to be in the same place at the same time.

If you work, camps either have to provide before and after care (for even more money!), transportation to and from (also for more money!), or you have to sign up with a friend so you can carpool.  But signing up for camp with a friend means that you both have to (a) have your act together at the same time and (b) have enough cash to sign up your kids at the same time or (3) mutually give up in despair and concede that your collective brood will just play Xbox for the month of July (as the ambitious summer homeschooling/enrichment plans generally fizzle out for me by week 2 of vacation).

And since we're unreasonably expected to have our act together in the middle of cold and flu season (no one has been fully healthy in my house in months) during the Winter of Unlimited Snow Days, they could at least wait until we all had our tax returns back before asking us for money. Either you're lucky and have the cash on hand for the camps you want or you register later than everyone else and risk…

Dun dun DUUUHHHNNN! Not getting in. Because the good parents everybody else hopped right on those deadlines in February and registered their kids. So in late April, when it's starting to get hot outside, and your kids are taking crappy standardized tests in school all day, and you realize that suddenly none of their clothes fit them anymore, you will overhear other parents discussing how all their friends are going to the same camps or to some awesome beach house and you will freak out. Did I say you? Sorry I meant me. Every year. Guys, I'm just trying to make sure everyone has food and clean underpants and clothes that are not going to make our neighbors think my kids are feral, OK? That's what I'm doing right now. 

The truth is, I don't even really like camp. I like to have summers where we just slow the hell down and hang out together and do nothing. I want to spend time with them and go to the pool and have little adventures and get ice cream from the ice cream truck… Wait. I'm insane. Because that's always how I think it's going to work but it never does. The reality is that after a couple of weeks with no schedule my house turns into Thunderdome. No one gets along and we slowly degenerate from fairly functioning people (who love each other) into sloth-like Jabbas in stretchy pants who watch far too much Animal Planet (while constantly fighting).

So camp it is. It breaks up the summer and gives us a schedule. So… Fine. I give up. I guess I better go sell my kidney to that nice Russian doctor behind the VFW so I can register my kids before it's too late.

xo, Lydia

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013

20 comments:

  1. you can come to my camp. and all your kids can come, at the same exact time. regardless of age, because i have the same problem. and i won't charge you, just bring your own food and drinks, and we can chill by the pool all day long and kids can play all day long and we can make those awesome water-sprinkler pvc things and all those other fun summer crafts that family fun magazine shows us how to do. it would be amazeballs.

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    1. I don't know who you are....but, you said amazeballs. I like you and I want to come with my kids, too!

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    2. I too want to go to your camp. I like things that are amazeballs. Can I bring wine??

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    3. Pool noodles and wine? More than amazeballs.

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  2. Aw! Just go register them this week while they are in school. And I totes agree... Camp times for us working moms are absurd. Ours have year round school. We try to ship them to Florida to the grandparents for at least one week of each track out. Otherwise their "break" consists of getting up at the same time to be driven to track out camp with the packed lunch. At least they can do some laying around and relaxing at the gp's.

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  3. I have 4 really good girlfriends (with kids) who all live really close to me and my family. Every summer, we each take 1 week, where that Mom is in charge of activities, and everybody heads over to that Mom's house each day and they have a ball. That's 4 weeks off at various points in the summer, for 1 week of "kinda-stressful-super-fun-summer" time for me to plan. FREE. It's the best thing EVER! We don't always have to outsource our kids to camps and pay a small fortune- get creative! This way I get a few weeks off spread out through the summer, but still get those quality times with the kids.

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    Replies
    1. What a great idea! We had the same idea here, too, and thought we'd do it during those last two weeks before school starts when there IS NO CAMP, only we never got our act together and my kid ended up playing video games all week.

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  4. Here football starts in August (because winter starts in Oct!) And school always goes until the end of June! So that gives us 1 month of summer where we can plan things and go places as a family without having to have everyone fed and geared up for 3 different football teams at 5:30 4-5 times a week (and of course the day off for one kid is NEVER the same day off as either of the others! So we have had summers that were scheduled worse than the school year with camps and family vacations, etc. I think we NEED a few weeks (maybe not in a row) of summer to be lazy, schedule free, brains fall out of your head due to inactivity! Makes up for the weeks during the year that you aren't home for more than a quick clothing/equipment change!

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  5. Right there with you. Some camps begin enrolling in January. And all those incredible free camps at the Smithsonian that the newspeople talk about? You have to know your Congressperson to get in, pretty much. There's no Boys and Girls Club, no YMCA. Pool days? Most of those get cancelled due to thunderstorms because all the pools are outdoors. And I'm still paying for last summer's camp. I hate summer camp.

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  6. I get this feeling when planning summer of "I don't want to do camps. I just want to spend time at the pool and enjoying my children." This lasts for 1-2 weeks in the summer and then I want to pull my hair out or drink an entire T-box with the kids playing whatever they want. I am starting the camp process too and am late for sign up on my older daughter's Girl Scout camp. She no longer gets her first choice. Life lesson for the summer already learned. Oh well, where is the wine?!?!

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  7. Here's what I do every summer to keep costs & sanity (somewhat) in check. I sign my kids up for just about every VBS I can find (that pretty much covers the month of June). Then we do low cost summer sports through the city. I will however splurge on high quality swim lessons and fun local family adventures.

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  8. Flyers have started coming home for my first grade daughter, too. Most go right into the recycle bin, but I keep looking for "invention" camp because my precocious daughter's math teacher thinks it "would be perfect for her" (she takes second grade math). Talk about a guilt trip. I'd look like the bad parent who isn't interested in listening to the teacher's advice if I didn't want to send her to the smart kids camp. Of course, now I am panicking because I haven't seen said flyer yet and wonder if I already recycled it!

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  9. The hours kill me--they're all 9am-4pm in my city. So that means, best case scenario, I'll be at work from 9:30-3:30. Yeah, I'm sure my boss won't mind if I only work 6 hours/day for 3 months!

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  10. Wait...you schedule summers? I grew up in a small town (makes a difference, I know) and from about 10 on I was unsupervised (more or less, I think my dad was home) and outside sun up to sun down. The neighbors and us took turns appearing at each others' houses for food. We were all perfectly capable of operating the microwave and making sandwiches. I did Girl Scout camp ONCE my entire childhood. I don't remember a damn thing about it. I do remember riding bikes, climbing trees, and various other good times. My kid's only 3 but I'll be damned if she's going to nine kinds of camp and activities all summer. Ain't nobody got time for dat!

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  11. Last summer I really lucked out as about every other week they had something. I am a SAHM so the time thing doesn't really bother me, but I feel for you working Moms. I scheduled stuff haphazardly but it really just worked out for us. At the beginning of the summer I thought I was nuts when I noticed it was scheduled that way, but it worked out as there was no home turning into Animal Planet show, feral dogs and all. The kids seemed to get along most of the summer as they were apart from each other almost every other week. Now if I can re-create the same schedule, without breaking the bank (here in moneybags county) this summer all will be well. However the chances of that are slim to none as I am not that well organized and I will end up running around trying to pick up the kids at the same time from camps on the opposite side of the county. A Mom can dream right?

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  12. A related rant: Back before we got priced out of the Outer Banks beach house market, we used to have to submit our deposit in, like, NOVEMBER to be assured of getting The Perfect House. Which meant coming up with hundreds of dollars during holiday shopping season, and also meant thinking about things like "summer" and "vacation" before you'd even bought your Thanksgiving turkey.

    I have NO IDEA what we're doing with our youngest this summer. HOLY CRAP. Last summer, dad was unemployed, so it wasn't an issue - he was home, and we didn't have cash for camps anyway. But he just started working, so, yay for that, except your post made me realize I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO, like, yesterday. And my federal tax refund perfectly offset what we owed to the state, so there's no windfall there.

    Hold me.

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  13. A most excellent rant. Couldn't agree w/ you more!

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  14. haha we dont do camp...I feel like they have to be here or be there all through out the school year...I like the freedom summer brings!

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    1. Huh. I am a single parent that must work to put food on the table. Just because it's summer, doesn't change my work schedule.

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  15. Oh, man. I'm that Cub Scout mom who just sent out that email. :( But you can drop kids off at my house early, and they can play games with my son until we leave for camp and then I'll bring him home. How's that? A little better?

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