Advice about Kids in Summer Camp
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Advice about Kids in Summer Camp
I need a bit of perspective here. Every time around this
year, I get so depressed about my work situation - because
it's camp signup time! I feel so bad that my kids spend 8
weeks in summer camp, instead of going away for months to a
lovely cabin or traveling overseas, hanging out with
friends, and having a mellow summer. So many of their
friends have this experience, because their moms are SAHMs,
but I have to work. The school year is fine - they are in
school every day anyway, and I have my own business so I can
be there in the afternoons etc. But during the summer, it's
a different story, they are the ''camps kids''. If I closed
down my business, we would likely have to leave the Bay Area
and/or they would have to take out hundreds of thousands in
loans for college (My income is what we're using to save the
$500k we'll need for two UC undergrad educations, that's one
of the main reasons I work.) How do I get over my guilt and
sadness about not giving them the summers I wish they had?
Wow, it never would have even occurred to me to feel bad
about sending my kids to summer camp! There are so many
great camps in the Bay area, I am a bit jealous of my kids
for having the opportunity to go to camps that *I* would
have loved as a kid. They have much more fun at camp than
they would have hanging out with boring old Mom! They enjoy
our vacations (which are generally short), but they're
always happy to come home again--a summer of travel would
not be their thing.
You should not feel at all guilty about giving your kids
such a great opportunity to make new friends and learn new
skills (sports, crafts, etc.). If they're not happy at the
camps they've gone to, then you should look for different
camps (lots of good recommendations here on BPN).
Mother of happy campers
I'm sorry you get so depressed over your kids having to go
to summer camp instead of living those lazy days of
summer. I work full time, am the only parent to my two
kids, and my kids go to summer camp full time, too. I
think they are lucky to be able to have all those amazing
summer adventures and are exposed to many activities I
never was. Yes, sometimes I get a little jealous when I
hear of a friend tell me that they will spend 3 weeks this
summer at their parent's summer lake house, but that's not
my life. I know it's hard, but try to keep a brave face
for your kids and show real enthusiasm for all the
wonderful summer camp experiences they will have! Be
grateful that you have the financial resources to pay for
summer camp. Be thankful for all the wonderful camp
choices we have here. Your kids will have opportunities
and experiences that will enrich their lives, not take
away from it. For us, we take our family vacation the end
of August, right before school starts. That helps me feel
like it's a real summer vacation and then we are ready to
start it all again when school starts. Good Luck to you!
No, you're looking at it all wrong! You might be sad
because your kids ''have'' to go to summer camp but I bet
they're glad they *get* to go.
Last summer my son's best friend went to the pool every
afternoon with his stay-at-home mom. I thought about
quitting my job so we could go with them and they could
have playdates all the time. How fun! But the other mom
told me her son was SO bored and wished he could go to
camp. They couldn't afford to send him because she didn't
If you really want your kids to have a lazy summer, I bet
you could find some college student home for the summer
who can take them to the pool and out for playdates, but
they may well be bored.
This summer we are trying a combination of camps and
babysitter. Some weeks camps, some weeks babysitter, some
weeks half day camps or classes and half day babysitter.
So maybe something other than full day camps would work
for you too?
Also, remember to take advantage of what the summer does
offer. Take them to the beach in Alameda. Have barbecues
at night and picnics in the park. Have friends over late.
Go on weekend trips. Have popsicles and ice cream. Do
something to make this season stand out from school and
maybe you'll start to love summer.
I used to work I felt this was one of the big sacrifices my kids had to make --
giving up a mellow summer -- because I was working. Well, now I'm home. I've
found with multiple kids in a house without TV watching, summers need
structure or the kids get on each others nerves. Also, it's funny you feel like so
many friends are traveling and letting their kids roam the nabe, because from my
perspective, it seems like all the kids are in camp camp camp so that there aren't
a lot of playmates running around. Finally, now that I'm not working, we have
less money so I think we actually travel less, which was sort of a surprise. It's
the old problem of time and money you never have both at the same time.
Anyway, I don't regret being home, and I'm glad they are not going to camp all
summer, but don't beat yourself up about it, because even if you were home,
your kids would need to be occupied doing something.
gotta keep em busy
You don't say anything about whether your kids like the
summer set-up, but if they do, then you shouldn't feel
guilty about them being in camp. If they don't like being in
camp 8 hours a day for 8 weeks, then maybe you can get
creative. Could you hire a teenager to come to your house to
hang out with your kids so they can have a relaxed summer,
at least for some of the weeks? You say you have your own
business and are free in the afternoons -- so could you sign
your kids up for some half-day camps? Could you make
arrangements with another family or two to do trades of a
week or two where you watch their kids and they watch yours?
Can you close your business for more hours, days or weeks,
or get someone to work in your business to free up your time
to spend with your kids?
Last of all, while it's nice of you to make all of the
sacrifices you are making to save for the future, primarily
as you said, for their college education, I'm willing to bet
you and your kids would prefer more together time now and a
more loans later.
work from home mom
I guess it's all in how you look at things. I work full
time unlike most of the moms at my daughter's school so my
daughter is in camp all summer long too. I never feel
sorry for her though; in fact, I always feel like she's
lucky to have the opportunity to engage in so many
interesting activities instead of doing nothing or
spending endless days at the pool for swim team. She's
interested in so many different things that I sign her up
for practically a different camp every week: sewing,
music, science, creative writing, art. And save for a few
duds that didn't work out, she nearly always loves them
all and is bursting to tell me about her day and show me
what she's made when I return home. Do your kids like
camp? If not, maybe you could explore all the different
options out there and find some better matches for them.
If they're sad about not having enough down time or
spending enough time with you, maybe you could take a
couple of weeks off during the summer or hire a babysitter
so they could spend some of the summer at home. I usually
have my parents come for a couple of weeks during the
summer, but even then, my daughter goes to half day camp
so she won't be bored. It seems like there has to be a
better option than moving or giving up your job (and their
college money). Good luck!
Are your kids actually dissatisfied with their summer activities? My mom was a
SAH parent, but I always spent summers in camp programs. When I got old
enough, I attended some great residential programs, too, related to my
interests (like writing, art). I never wished I was spending my summers doing
nothing by the water. I was excited to be busy doing interesting things and
making new friends, and I loved my camp counselors. If your kids are happy,
don't worry about it. Camp programs can be pretty great. You can always do a
couple long weekends away somewhere scenic but relatively close.
Comparing yourself to those who have more than you is a surefire way to
make yourself feel inadequate and miserable, no matter how much you have
or don't have. Instead, compare yourself to those who have less to help you
feel grateful for what you've got. Traveling overseas or spending months at a
cabin -- who has the money for that? Clearly some of your friends do, but if
you set that as the standard 99% of us will fall woefully short. Some working
parents have to put their kids in extended care from 8am to 6pm year round.
Some work crappy jobs on the swing shift and barely make enough to pay
rent on a crummy apartment in a bad neighborhood. As a pediatrician I see
these kids for their checkups in the summer and they'd love to be ''camp kids''
-- they're bored stiff at grandma or auntie or neighbor's house watching TV
all day and gaining 10lbs every summer. And hey, those families have it
better than my patient's mother who told me that she wanted to get
everything done at clinic in one day, because every time she came it cost $4
bus fare and she didn't have that kind of money. This may not describe the
reality of your social circle, but it's true of flesh and blood people who love
their children just as much as you do. And there are more of them than there
are of those who have idyllic summers in the Hamptons or traveling overseas.
Everybody gets this intellectually, but if you're not really interacting with
people who have it worse than you then sometimes it's hard to get it
emotionally. If you need help with that, Google ''practicing gratitude''. I say
all of this without judgement -- it's human nature to compare ourselves to
those around us. It takes active effort *not* to look at those who have it
better and then feel pissy about ''why don't I have that?'', but rather to look at
those who have it worse and feel grateful for the abundance we have.
trying to be grateful for what I've got
Since you own your own business is there a way to either work less in the
summer or get more help so you can have additional time off? It sounds like
your kids would enjoy more time with you during the summer. Would it be
the end of the world for your business if you shut down for six weeks during
the summer? Regarding the college savings - my only suggestion is to think
about how you are going to feel when they are in college. Are you going to
feel like you missed spending time with them? Are you going to regret
working so hard to save money for college at the expense of enjoying life with
them? You don't mention their ages but there is a short window of time when
your children actually want to spend time with their parents. Soon friends and
activities take over and of course this intensifies in high school and then
quickly they are on their own in college. You don't mention what type of
business you run but what if you were to scale back your hours now,
especially during the summer and work more later, when they are a bit older?
They could be recipients of college scholarships. They could go to community
college for the first two years. They could work part-time in college and have
some student loans - not necessarily bad things. It really sounds to me like
you would like to focus on spending time with and enjoying your kids while
they are kids, during the summer, when they are carefree and have free time.
I encourage you to find a way to live in the now and make it happen. It
sounds like you will regret if it you do not. Even if you take a month off in the
summer rather than the full eight weeks your business will be fine and you
will be a lot happier, so will your kids.
Camps are fun! I bet your kids are having a great time. I
would say you should try to take a little more time off during
the summer (because it sounds like YOU want to spend more time
with them) but then relax and let them pick camps they enjoy
and look forward to (so many choices!) and I bet they will
have wonderful memories of fun summers.
Hi - I'm planning ahead for Winter and Summer Camps and I'd like
recommendations about how to schedule camps. My goal is to do a
mix of academic and fun/creative experiences but it feels like
we could be hopping all over the place given camp start and end
dates. Is there a way to do this well? What would you avoid
doing? Mistakes I should not make? What are your thoughts about
the number of camps and transitioning kids to give them a breath
Thanks for the advice
My camp strategy is as follows: I pick one academic-type camp (my specific one is 3
weeks long -- morning academics, afternoon sports), and one ''other-skills'' type of
camp (this year that was sailing, also 3 weeks). Then, I figure that's enough, and use
the Adventure Time Roberts Park Explorers (essentially, supervised outdoor play;
includes hiking, swimming, and a few field trips) for filling in between camp and a
summer family trip. If my son wants, I'll let him have one week that he specifically
chooses (chess, or Legos, or another such), but I choose that one at the last minute.
It does depend on your specific child though. Mine likes routine, so too many changes
upset him a bit when he was younger, and make him cranky now that he's older. He
also loves to just be outdoors, in a place like a regional park, doing nothing much of
anything except running around. Other kids might not like this so well.
I ended up feeling pretty crazed about the our first summer camp
experience this last year, and, indeed, we ended up with quite a
jumble of a schedule, squeezing different sessions of one-week
camps in between sessions of multiweek camps, driving all over
creation . . . . And, you know what? It worked out fine. She
got a great variety of stuff and loved her summer camps, almost
universally, and she really rolled with the changes. This is
probably largely her personality, but, also, camps are used to
it and prepared for it, and the enthusiasm and excitement of the
staff and counselors at all -- really, all -- of the camps we've
dealt with helped make it easy for our daughter.
Here's what I'm going to do differently next year: pick some
non-negotiable ''anchor'' activities early, book early, and
schedule around those. Like, if there's a music camp we really
want to do, or a particular session of something with a friend
or friends, or a particular price point that we want to hit for
some week, schedule those around planned vacation time, and book
them early. Pay the deposit, and set it in stone. Everything
else can be scheduled around it, or them, even if it means that
we have one week of Sarah's Science in June and another in
August, or end up squeezing in a week of something that we
wouldn't have considered otherwise just because it happened to
fit and still had room (had a great experience doing that with
MOCHA this year). The reality is that we're spoiled for
choices, and I spent too much time this year saying ''ooh! But
what about this one? Or this one? If I move this, then she can
do that! And we're waiting to hear what her friends are
doing!'' And with all that dilly-dallying, we lost out on some
opportunities. Sometimes a little bit less flexibility can
help, I think. So, for next year, I'm thinking ''anchor camps,''
and building from there. I'll be curious to hear what others
Loved camp, but happy to be back in school
This past March I didn't register my kid for much because I
figured all the camps would be short on campers, but normally
March 1 is a good time to start planning summer day camps for the
following summer. I pay strict attention to the cancellation
policies - some charge as little as $5.00.
Since I'm in Castro Valley, we would probably choose different
camps. I love summer as a time to get away from
Hope this helps
this page was last updated: Oct 22, 2012
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