Saturday, November 21, 2009

Summer camps

You heard me. Summer camps. Yes. S-u-m-m-e-r.

There's something very wrong with researching summer camp before Thanksgiving. But that's the way things roll. A very popular (and a wee bit spendy) day camp opens to new campers December 15. And apparently fills up very quickly. Lest you think this phenomenon is limited to the hyper-competitive northeast, the ever popular Camp Half-Blood in Austin is already sold out for summer 2010. I was thinking of sending the big guy to Austin for that camp. Oh well. Not an early bird. No worm.

So I'm researching summer camps. After awhile, they all start to look alike. Slick websites filled with images of gleaming, bright-eyed, grinning children. All so happy with their camp experience. And the language promising intellectually stimulating projects, lifelong friendships, nurturing environments, energizing sports and activities. Fun. Fun. FUN! And...the subtext goes...a healthy, balanced, happy child with a posse of good, healthy, balanced, happy friends who will all go to an excellent college of their choice and make their parents proud.


I don't know what I'm looking for, but I don't think any of these camps are it. These camps full of sanitized, carefully honed experiences. Maybe I'm just feeling jaded. Or maybe I'm tired of excitedly typing in a website for a program that sounds oh-so-cool only to find that it's a branch of a national chain of "experiences." That the oh-so-cool factor had been carefully crafted and marketed. Where's the authenticity? The individuality?

I'm going to ask the big guy what he wants to do this summer. Or maybe I should resist signing him up for the ultra-shiny camps for thousands of $$$, and just have him be bored at home. Some articles I've read recently say that boredom is good for kids. These articles seem to subliminally suggest that boredom is the fertile soil from which sprout amazing things. The only amazing thing sprouting from my child's boredom seems to be whining. But maybe that's just us.

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