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Summer Activites for Teens & Pre-Teens
Seeking Day Camps, Classes & Other Activities
Advice: Teens Resistance to Summer Camp
Reviews by Type of Activity
I am looking for summer ideas for my bit quirky tween boy. He is 12 and will be 13 in August. He is quite mature and responsible for his age, but does not have any friends that he likes to hang out with. He seems to not mind having any close friends, which baffles me. Adults love him and describe him as polite and super helpful. He WILL NOT entertain any sleep away camp, or really camp in general, unless he can be a CIT. Ideally, for me, I'd like to see him enrolled in some sort of 1/2 day school that focused on Spanish and math and the sciences, and perhaps music. He'll enter 8th grade in the fall. Ideally, he could do some sort of CIT job in the afternoon. Berkeley/Oakland area. Does such a thing exist? Thanks in advance.
If your son is interested in music, perhaps he would be open to an amazing and different kind of music camp called ''Jam Camp West'' run by an Oakland non-profit called ''Living Jazz.'' Check it out here: http://www.jamcampwest.com/ and here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/jam-camp-west-la-honda
It has been a transformative experience for my daughter and her friends, many of whom she met at the camp and has maintained contact with for years. Plenty of the kids are interesting and quirky, and all they need is an interest (no training required) in music, singing or dance - the rest is magic! Jam Camp West fan
I'm wondering what kind of summer camps everyone recommends for an 11-year-old boy. I'd like him to go for most of the day, and it feels like he's outgrowing a lot of the typical day camps. I'm wondering if the CIT programs really are worthwhile? It's hard to find something that's affordable to do over multiple weeks. For example, we did some Galileo last summer, but this gets really expensive. Mom of Tween
My stepson is 14 years old and a graduating eighth grader. He is getting too old for summer camps and is still too young to hold a job or internship. We're looking for specific ideas for summer activities, preferably ones that allow him to keep a semi-regular schedule. He is able to navigate public transportation and is responsible and enthusiastic. We've considered a regular community service commitment but haven't been able to find anything consistent that is also appropriate for his age and skill set. We've also considered counselor-in-training (CIT) positions, but most of them ask that CITs pay nearly the same camp rate as younger campers, which makes us wonder whether these positions are really just summer camp with a different heading (we'd like something where he has responsibility). Even better would be a job because he is eager to make money, but we have zero ideas other than the standard mowing lawns, petsitting, etc. gigs. Cost is definitely an issue, as we just haven't budgeted for his summer commitments due to having a newborn at home. We also figure that if we can find something where he can work (unpaid is fine), he shouldn't have to pay to help!
Look at your city/county recreation and park programs. These are usually quite affordable. There may be things like basketball, but there will also be those CIT positions. My daughter did things like that and did indeed have some responsibility for taking care of the younger kids and helping out. You can only expect so much at this age, however; no one is going to have a 14-year-old run a camp. I think when my daughter volunteered at camps for rec and park, we did not pay.
Other places, like YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, will charge you for CIT experience, but in our day anyway, the cost was half. You'd pay the same rate, but get two weeks of training. And yes, they trained them in all kinds of ways for the first week (CPR, for example) and then had them work with kids for the second.
We always managed with a combination of things. Some expensive stuff like YMCA, cheap rec and park things, trading ''playdates'' with other parents, some vacation time with parents. It was always a struggle as I was single-parenting and broke.
Mostly 14 and 15 year-olds whose parents work do go to summer programs or camps. If you are going to be home with him this summer, you could try to put some part-time things together. The trick is to figure out what he is interested in, or wants to try and have that play a role in structuring the summer. Students that young, aren't much use to organizations as volunteers, though I can see how he might look grown-up to you compared to your infant. Usually programs and organizations only take volunteers over 16, entering junior/senior year. anon
My 13 y.o. son, who will be a 9th grander in the fall, has finally agreed to go to a summer camp and now I'm afraid I won't be able to find anything. He was very interested in Roughing It Day Camp, but then we discovered that at his age he can only do a 4 week program, and we simply do not have that kind of money ($3690). I'm looking for a 1 to 2 week camp with mixed sports, water skills, traditional camp activities, etc. He is old enough to be a CIT, and would like that role, but many camps only accept CITs who have attended before. Am I too late? Any recommendations appreciated. Valerie
I also wanted to put a very big recommendation in for Stage Door Conservatory, if your child has any interest at all in a really supportive and fun theater arts camp. There is a 2 week commitment for younger children and a 6 week commitment for middle school and high school students. (Three separate camps.) The middle school kids will be performing Hairspray this summer. This is a fabulous summer program that is very bonding for the kids. They learn about creating together, acting, singing, dancing, stage sets, props, costumes, etc. The final productions are always over-the-top amazing. Our daughters are returning after a great experience last summer participating in Bye, Bye Birdie. More information at this link: http://www.stagedoorconservatory.org/ Sharon
My 15-year-old is an enthusiastic student for whom studies don't come easy. Next fall he will be studying geometry and first-year latin, and he would love to get a jump on either one or both in a summer program in the Berkeley area. Does anyone know of a program that might be a good fit? Peter
My sister-in-law surrendered custody of her 12 year old son to my father-in-law. He is currently living with grandpa and is happy, but we think grandpa will need a break this summer. They are up in Alpine county (which does not have much going on) and we thought bringing him down for a couple weeks to stay with us would be great. We would like to sign him up for camps and he has expressed interest in sports camps. We do not have a ton of extra money in our budget and are wondering if there are any special programs/camps out there that offer scholarships. He is a great kid but hasn't ever had the opportunity to play sports because of the situation with his mom. We work in El Cerrito and would like something nearby. How are the Cal camps? Scholarships? Thanks. concerned auntie
"RATS is a fun and moderately competitive program for boys and girls who want to play sports and games all day long. Kids play basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and a wide variety of alternative games. During "down time" they enjoy chess, checkers, board games, silly talent competitions and more.
Program Director Don Arreola-Burl (''Coach Don'') has many years of experience operating summer programs, coaching, and teaching physical education at several Berkeley schools. (During the school year, he works full-time as Washington School's PE Specialist.)
Kids of all ability levels are encouraged to enroll; all they need is a willingness to participate. So, if your child has a passion for sports and physical activity, or just loves PE, sign up now! To register go to: www.ratsports.org to download enrollment forms."
I realize that it may be late for some programs, but I'd love some help in my search for summer activities for my 15-year-old daughter. She is interested in acting, writing, reading, cooking, dancing and photography. I have found that most dedicated camps or experiences are quite expensive. Archived reviews are a little dated and mostly for younger kids. Does anyone have any suggestions for camps, programs or classes that inspire friendly, creative teens without costing an arm and a leg? East Bay mom
Looking for something new to do this summer for my 11 y.o. son. Need feedback on The Cruicible, Robotics for Fun and Berkeley Ironworks rock climbing camp. Thanks!! Sophia
I'm in Alameda but would be interested in camps around Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro. I can't believe how expensive a single week of camp is, and there is so little available for tweens. My daughter's 11 and has outgrown the little-kid crafts and singalongs, but still needs organized events and lots of activity. I don't want her to spend the entire summer watching TV and playing on the computer. What's good out there? What's affordable? What's worth doing? I can't be the only one in this boat. Thanks! Alana
Hi, I am still hunting around for some camps for my 12 year old son during a few weeks of the summer. He is going to be entering 7th grade. He is very independent and so I would love to find some half day camps he can bike to, but am open to anything that will be fun and interesting to him. He is interested in science, mythology, robotics, tech classes, writing... that sort of thing. Ideas? Thanks. Middle School Mom
He may enjoy the Roleplay Workshop. They offer weekly day camps all summer, Mon-Fri all day (with optional extended care). You didn't say where you live, but the Roleplay Workshop is on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. The games are creative and involve science and mythology, as well as a little math. My son and daughter have both been attending for years and LOVE it! See their website for more information: http://www.roleplay-workshop.com/about/index.html
Summer day camp details here: http://www.roleplay-workshop.com/about/summer.html
I think the minimum age is 10 years old, and goes up through 17 or 18. (There's a separate teen table.) - love love love Roleplay Workshop
My daughter will be coming home from college for the summer. Looking for ideas for a 19yo music major (vocal & violin) around the Bay Area or not. Internships? volunteer work? Work might be tough in this economy. Anyone with great ideas or where to find some good ideas? -Anonymous
Our daughter is 11 years old and in 6th grade. She has now rejected her previous
daycamps now as being ''for kids'' so even though they are not (they go through the teen
years), I am looking for suggestions for daycamps with the following criteria:
* full-day program with aftercare
* location in or near Walnut Creek
* horseback riding
I went to a camp fair today and got all sorts of flyers and brochures and, just as an
example of what I am dealing with, she rejected things based on the fact that there were
pictures of younger kids, hence the ''that's for kids!'' remark. I know she's wrong, you know
she's wrong, but one thing she is is extraordinarily strong-willed.
As an added factor, our daughter is not particularly comfortable in new social situations,
for what that's worth.
Thanks for any suggestions!
working parents who need a daycamp
Hi there, Does anyone have Camp suggestions for ages 12/13, both genders, half- or full-day, near Berkeley, FUN, active, varied? Hopefully not too costly? Not ''young kid'' camps, but geared for the teen (young teen though!) Thanks if you have any suggestions! Can't let them completely ''veg''
I need to find some activity options for my son for the summer. He's a fairly good student in a small school at Berkeley High. He is easy going but likes to sleep and stay in his room most of the time when not in school. Since school let out last week, he has been in front of the computer gaming all day long i.e. he wakes up at 2 pm in the afternoon and stays up late at night. He used to be passionate about skateboarding, used to take music lessons, tried one martial arts class and never went back. Right now the only scheduled activity for the summer outside the home is Drivers Education. He knows that I will be taking his computer access away for certain hours of the day starting next week and that he needs to find things to do in the community. He is very bright but has a very shy side and has always been difficult since early on for him to try new things. Ideas greatly appreciated!
I have a 15 year old granddaughter who is very active with choir and all music, the arts and learning French. She is a very bright young girl and will not back down to a challenge, so physical camps are also great for her. She will be coming to Berkley this summer and I would like to find something for her to do while she is here! If anyone has any ideas as for days camps in the Berkley area that would be great. As I said, anything Music, French and or Art related is what were aiming for, but anything really is great. Please and Thank you, Georgina
I'm looking for a fun, safe summer for my son who is currently in 5th grade. He thinks he can put together his own fun summer, but I'm not ready for the fallout and/or boredom that I'm sure will come by the beginning of July. Does anyone have experience with a camp for entering middle school kids that has a decent balance of structured activities/trips and a little bit of just being a kid and having some hang-out time? Areas of interest include Albany, El Cerrito & Berkeley. Thanks -not quite done with camps
I have a 15-year-old daughter and am wondering what to have
her do this summer. Sitting home alone every day with
nothing to do but entertain herself on the computer is not
an option. I'd love some suggestions about activities that
would meaningful, challenging, educational, or fun that
would be appropriate for a girl who is too young to work or
drive and too old to do nothing. Any and all suggestions
I have a daughter who is currently in 9th grade. this summer she turns 15 and I wonder what she will do while I work full time ( I have some flexibility in my schedule) It seems like she is too old for camp but too young for a job. she is very shy and not one to go out and ''make something happen.'' What do other working parents do with their teenagers over the summer? single mom of a teenager
I think my daughter took several classes that summer, one at that music place, one at the ASUC (student union at CAL) in photography, and maybe an art class at Studio One in Oakland. I got her a pass to the Strawberry Canyon pool but summers here are dreadfully cold so that wasn't a great investment, I think she went twice! She also played softball but that was mostly in the evenings and on weekends. We also took a week to go somewhere ourselves. It was really a week of this and a week of that, a pain to coordinate. Good luck anon
Hi parents, I am writing on behalf of my little sister and brother. My sister is 16 and my brother is 13. I am trying to find a summer camp for them (doesn't necessarily have to be the SAME camp or program). We are looking for a program that is lengthy (lasts the whole summer ideally), affordable, and based on teens not younger children. They are willing to go anywhere in the country, as long as it's affordable! The goal is to get away from home for a summer. I think it's important that they gain some time away from my parents (who are going through a divorce and the home situation is less than healthy), where they can have safe fun and be somewhat independent teenagers for several weeks. They are social, athletic, creative, and into dance, photography, martial arts. It would great if they could meet some new friends. Unfortunately the main limiting factor is COST of the program. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. They are also interested in summer classes, going abroad, the main limiting factor is price. We are in the financial bracket of ''not quite eligible for financial aid'' but cannot spend more than $600.00 per kid. When high school can be such a tough time, draining both mentally and physically, I'd really love for them to have a healthy, happy summer, peacefully away from the messy divorce! I appreciate any & all advice! --Big Sis
There would be other older kids also working, so it wouldn't be completely exile among children; it might even give them a little cash of their own, and it would get them out of the house and busy all summer.
I don't know their competencies, so I can't recommend anything specific, but Cal has a general summer camp that might have openings -- there are lots of programs around, and this is the time to be applying. laura
My stepson comes out from Indiana to stay with me and my husband during the summertime. He is going to be 13 this summer and we both work outside the home in Walnut Creek. What are some summer DAY camps that we should look into for teen age kids? Last year he was in a Sports Camp which he loved but has an age limit of 12. We do not want an overnight camp since he is only with us for 7 weeks. Any advice would help. We're new to the East Bay and do not know parents with kids his age. Liz, East Bay
My almost 15 year old stepdaughter will be coming to live with us in Berkeley this summer. She is not excited about this fact, as she has got that ''attitude'' that seems to accompany adolescence (part of the reason she is coming to live with us). I am looking for suggestions and/or opportunities for her to make some social connections (we know no teenagers around here). Are there groups/classes/summercamps? She doesn't have a lot of interests other than watching tv and playing with make-up. Also, should we provide her an allowance that is somehow tied to responsibilities? I want her to have some freedom but also know she will be expected to contribute. She does not have this set-up at home (hence all the tv-watching). I expect the transistion will be difficult for all of us at first, but I am hoping to provide her with some opportunities to make this summer not the ''drag'' she inticipates it to be... NOT the wicked stepmother
Also, if she likes applying makeup, how about letting her feel good about that. There are some retirement communities that would love a teen volunteer to come once a week and apply makeup to their residents. Give the teen a sense of purpose and make a senior's day! Ann S.
1. Academy of Art summer experience for high schoolers -- if she likes art at all, the variety of college-level courses in this program is great. Located in SF, close to BART, inexpensive for you, very hip for her. www.academyart.edu
2. Does she like acting? Berkeley Rep has theater courses/workshop in the summer. Easy to get to on BART or bus. good luck! Lisa McL
Beginning windsurfing camp at the Berkeley Marina through Cal
High school students program at Contra Costa Civic Theater good luck
Well we didn't plan on it this way but several things fell
apart and now my 15 yr old daughter has nothing set for
the summer and no desire for anything that I
suggest--can't see her sitting at home so wondering if
anyone has any ideas on what short term (1 week -3
week) programs or ''things'' are available in this area for
a non motivated teen who'd rather be somewhere else,
but can't be. any ideas welcome
Row Oakland offers 3 two-week programs (the first begins 6/21 and the last ends 7/30) and both morning or afternoon sessions. Its a great chance to get a workout and a tan, learn a new skill and meet other teens, close to home. The interns for this program tend to be kids your daughter's age from the Berkeley (boys and girls) Crew, and it is run by the BHS Crew Head Coach. Each 2 wk, 1/2 day session cost $90, with fee waivers available. Phone 510-273-9041 for more information. Heather
We are looking for some suggestions for summer camps for teens that may be off the beaten path or not advertised as heavily as the YMCA, etc... Cal has some great programs, but they run from 9:30 to 4:00 and as working parents, we cannot transport our children within this time...We are curious if anyone has found out something that we haven't. Thanks for any imput!
Summer camps for 12-13 year olds: I have had the same problem with my daughter who is now 14. Albany Y has the most interesting teen camps which are open only to teenagers. Some are only half day but others are longer. This allowed her a little bit of time on her own but still provided structure. If you find a friend to go with them it helps. Cal Adventure camps ( through the University) also offer interesting teen camps, again they are often half day and a little pricey. Last summer I was able to get her a job at her younger sister's preschool which was wonderful, but I know this would have been impossible if I had not know this school for so many years. There are CIT (counselor in training programs) but many don't take kids untill they are 14 or older, same is true for most summer jobs. I believe Albany Y offers the youngest CIT program for 13 year olds, but you need to apply early. The other idea I had before finding her the preschool job, was to have her volunteer at places like the senior centers. I know kids who have done this but never followed up on it myself. I would imagine many of the preschools would be interested in part-time volunteers. Good luck, it is not any easy task and usually incorporates a lot of pieces. The volunteer or CIT work will definetelty help them get jobs in the summers to come. -Lynn
I believe the Berkeley-Albany YMCA has some pretty interesting teen
summer programs. Also, try the Berkeley YMCA. Cal has sports and
adventure camps (ck with Intercollegiate Athletics depart). Finally,
for referrals ck with BANNANAS (658-7101)-or better yet-go there to
look over all their summer program flyers.
Advice: Teens Resistance to Summer Camp
Some of my best memories growing up were at sleepaway camp. I've been putting feelers out to my 11 year old for a few years now, and he is completely uninterested in going. I haven't pushed it, because I just figured it's not his thing. He doesn't like sleeping away from home and will occasionally tolerate the random overnight at a friend's, but that's it. Should I give him more of a nudge? He is worried that he won't sleep well, and he is very modest and doesn't like the idea of changing in front of other kids. I suspect both these issues will disappear on day 1 of camp and he will have a great time. I enjoy having him around in the summer, and he goes to day camp for two weeks or so, but there's definitely too much screen time and whining. I don't want him to let his anxieties limit him at such a young age (or ever). On the other hand, there are so many amazing things to do here in the Bay Area, we can have a pretty great and busy summer if I get myself organized a little bit. Any suggestions? First world problem
Also, can you sign him up for more camps this summer, to cut down on the screen time and whining? Your town or adjacent town's rec and park department probably have low-cost camps. Ours run ab out $100 for a five-day week from 7:30-3. You could try that for this summer and revisit sleepaway camp next year.
1) search out the most solid, caring Camp Directors we could find, i.e. those we thought most skilled and experienced at creating a warm and inclusive camp community (and who have a no-electronics policy). These Directors were John Chakan and Kelly Marston; they have been full-time professional summer sleep-away camp directors for 15 years or more. (They also have 3 children of their own) I did a few months of volunteer work for them to get to know them ahead of time and make sure that I trusted them with my children. I do,and after 5 years of summer camp with them, still have no reservations.! John and Kelly now run Camp JaK ( 8-16 year olds). My three kids have been with them for 5 Summers and rave about it the rest of every year.
2) made arrangements with John and Kelly for my highly anxious kid to have the option of coming home after a few days if she really wanted to. At the end of 3 days she had no interest in coming home and stayed happily for almost 4 weeks. The following Summer she begged to go to multiple sessions and went for almost 8 weeks!
Note: While John and Kelly were the Directors at Plantation Farm Camp for over a dozen years, this Summer they they have started their own camp . Since I believe that the leadership at a camp is the primary factor in the quality of children's experience, my kids are moving to the new Camp JaK with these wonderful [Berkeley-based] directors. Part of what I so admire about their mission as life-long summer camp leaders is their ability to simultaneously love kids unconditionally, while setting fair firm and consistent limits. I also have great respect for the values they bring to camp life - kindness, inclusivity, responsibility for community , the farm animals. and the environmentâ€¦ And the food is great! Wishing you all the best, Andrea
I'd love advice on whether to send our foster son to sleepover camp even if he doesn't want to go.
Eighteen months ago, we became foster parents to a teenaged boy we already knew. He came directly to us from his bio parents' house and we expect to be his permanent parents. He has PTSD, grief and depression. His daily behavior was highly anxious and suspicious when he first came to us. He is now 14.5 years old.
With a lot of support, patience and good therapy, he has improved quite a bit. He still has a long way to go. Last summer was really difficult--the large blocks of unstructured time made him very anxious and depressed. At that point, when he was having nightmares and was afraid of all strangers, sleepover camp was impossible and we resisted social services pressure to send him. We enrolled him in some day camps, but several were cancelled. He has no skills for entertaining himself if he doesn't have something electronic to do. He struggles with reading, and his social skills are poor. He has very few friends and clearly doesn't understand how to be a friend yet. He is very agile and enjoys ping pong and tennis, but those require a buddy. We will get him in some camps this summer, but the hours will once again stretch for him (and us).
As a foster youth, he could attend Camp Mendocino. And I can also get him into YMCA's Camp Jones Gulch, where my adult daughter works. He doesn't want to do either. He has no experience with sleepover camps and withdraws in social settings, although I'm told he does okay socially while at school.
Does anyone have experience with requiring a reluctant teen to go to camp? Our hope would be that the extended, close time with other kids in a supportive environment would build social skills, morale, and self-esteem--and that he might have fun. Our fear is that he will feel alone and scared. He's going to be aging out of camps soon, so this might be the last summer he could do it. I will be discussing this with his psychologist, but wanted a parent perspective too. want our boy to enjoy himself for a change
As a parent and as someone who has worked with foster teens, definitely not. While you seem to have the best of intentions for sending him, he will think you are trying to get rid of him.
There are so many great day camps--most will give scholarships for foster teens. It will be a bit of work to get them all set up, but you should be able to fill up his whole summer. Some have one overnight in a week or two week session--encourage him to try that out but don't push. If you find gaps that you can't fill with day camp, say he has to spend 30/hrs week volunteering. www.volunteereastbay.org is a good place to look or try your local library or perhaps he can volunteer in a camp for younger kids. best wishes
1) Researched the camp, until we were 100% comfortable with it (volunteered time with the Directors, visited it off-season, sought feedback from experienced camping families, etc.)
2) Made sure that the supervision would be provided by carefully selected, mature adults and not youngsters because many teens are not yet able to provide a) unconditional love even if they don't like a kid, and b) firm yet fair and consistent limits/ boundaries
3) Negotiated an agreement with the camp that our daughter had to stay for 4 days (out of a total of 3.5 weeks) and that, if she wanted to come home, she could after that (so she didn't feel trapped).
4) Told her that she had to go for the 4 days and that we'd come pick her up after that if she wanted us to. She never looked back, and the next Summer, went, at her request, to both 3.5 week sessions.
Should you be interested, all 3 of my kids say that they rate Plantation Farm Camp (2 hours from San Francisco) a 100 on a scale of 1 to 10!... and that they will never miss another Summer there again. All my best to you and your foster Son
We are looking for recommendations for summer camp in Contra Costa (preferably). Our daughter, who will be 13 in early August, feels she is too old for camp and wants to hang around at home all summer. My husband and I both work full-time, but even if we didn't, this wouldn't be OK with us. She is bored within 3 seconds of arriving home from school, and cannot think of anything she wants to do. She always asks for suggestions and rejects all of them (welcome to our world!). Anyway, you get the picture.
She is going to two weeks of sleepaway camp in early July. Other than that, we are looking for interesting things for her to do that she won't feel she is ''too old'' for. Last summer she had a fantastic time at Roughing It Horse Camp (first time), but now she has no memory of that good time. She has also gone to Adventure Day Camp for a number of years and that is really convenient to home, but she is again growing tired of it (though she had a better than usual time last summer there due to the field trips they do with the older kids - again, little memory of those good times!).
We are in Walnut Creek, so anything near here would be great.If you want to ask what she is interested in, other than swimming, it's hard to say, alas. Hanging around the house all summer texting her friends is definitely not an option. ;-) Thanks!
I need ideas on how to keep an unmotivated 15-yr-old active this summer and away from screens, which he can do all day long. He claims he's too old for camps. He likes basketball and baseball. We need ideas about sports, paid work?, volunteering, etc. Bracing for summer
The rowing and other boating programs at Lake Merritt http://www.rowlakemerritt.org/?page_id=57 http://www.oaklandnet.com/parks/programs/boating_youth_camps.asp
and Cal Adventures programs at the Berkeley Marina http://www.recsports.berkeley.edu/youth/yinside.aspx?uid=2cf83564-6bd4-45dc-ab27-05e7c8cf3981
These programs generally have sections specifically for older teens. My teens went to 1/2 day camps at each locations and as they got older got themselves to and from either by bike or public transit. They loved it all and what a great way to spend the summer on the bay. These are also great programs for kids visiting the bay area for the summer. mother of college students now
We're thinking of sending our son to Cazadero Music Camp's Junior High session this summer. He's really been resisting the idea (at almost 13 he's never been away from home on his own for more than 2 days, and he dislikes being away too long, even with us) and I hate to push him, and spend all the money (!), if he'll really hate it. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure he'll love it, and that even if he doesn't it'll be good for him. (He plays piano & trumpet BTW - though he refuses to play piano at Caz, IF he goes.)
Does anyone have recent experience with Caz, AND/OR experience sending middle school kids to away camp, when they'd much rather stay home & play Runescape?
One of our son's friends went to Caz last year, and said he didn't like it bc he didn't know anyone. That was the only negative comment I've heard. Fortunately, two of our son's other friends may attend this summer, making the whole thing look way more attractive, even to him. Still, I could use your wise advice. Thank you! lcf
The reason I'm writing is that I feel strongly about sending kids off to sleep-away camp. I think it's like learning to ride a bike or learning to swim or learning to drive a car---it's an important life experience that provides an opportunity for growth and sense of personal accomplishment. I went to several camps over several summers (for a week or two each). Most of them were great. Learned lots of songs, made new friends, hiked and swam. Loved riding the bus and singing ''Catalina, Madalina'' at the top of my lungs. One camp was a horrible experience, I hated my counselor, I was there for my birthday and the counselors confiscated the cookies that my grandmother sent to me (hmmm, wonder who ate those?!) But, I survived!! And, I have some pretty funny stories and great memories, even of THAT camp.
Each of my kids went off to their first camp starting the summer before 6th grade. My son went to Boy Scout camp, with a backpack full of clean clothes each marked with his name. He came home with a backpack full of clean clothes---he even survived not having showered or brushed his teeth for an entire week! (Maybe he swam that week?)
I do think it's nice if you have a friend go to the same camp---but after a couple of days at camp it won't matter if he doesn't. There will be other kids in the same boat!
I strongly encourage you to send him off! I think our kids need us to push them to do things that are a little scary or new so that they can move on to other (perhaps scary) rewarding activities---college, marriage, you know.
If he goes, definitely mail a letter off to him before he goes so that he'll get mail the first day. I always sent a magazine or quick paperback too. If the camp allows food, by all means consider a package of cookies. Helps make friends with your bunkmates!
I'd be willing to bet money that he'll have a great time. Sally
my 13 year old son has attended a wonderful day camp for
the past four years and has enjoyed it as much as he
enjoys anything. the problem is that the camp has two
overnights per session that increase in length each year
(for example, the two nighter for 4th graders is a three
nighter for 6th graders). He absolutely will not stay
overnight. Promises, threats, cajoling, bribing, etc. have
not worked and I always end up driving for 1 to 3 hours to
pick him up. This also results in many lost days of camp
which have already been paid for (it ain't cheap!).
AND...since all of his friends are away at camp he sits
home and does nothing for those missed days. Well this
year I have put my foot down and told him that we will
have to find another day camp that doesn't have
overnights. Yes, he's anxious; yes we've tried therapy;
yes, he has friends at the camp who do stay overnight;
yes, we've tried negotiating with the camp. The ideal
situation for him (and me) would be some kind of Outward
Bound program where he couldn't possibly come home but
since that won't be happening I was hoping BPN folks could
recommend local day camps. Sports camps are out, as is
Abantey (hated it). Thanks everyone.
Can't Afford Brat Camp
but in terms of your kid's day camp for this summer, unless finding something else for him to do during the overnight would constitute some kind of real financial hardship (and at 13, maybe he can stay home for a day or two?), I would simply suck it up and send him back to the camp that he really likes and has friends at even though he'll miss the overnight. if you force him to go to another camp, you're basically punishing him for having whatever psychological issue makes it difficult to spend the night away from home. and as weird as that might seem to you and me as parents, apparently some kids have that issue longer than we might think is ''appropriate.'' (my kid recently decided that overnights are fine, and I was totally unaware of what made this change happen.)
so just let it slide, send him back to the camp he loves, and who knows? maybe by this summer he'll be ready to do the overnight. best wishes and good luck. anon
Dear Parents, I am gearing up for our usual summer battle. My husband and I would like our daughter to use some of her summer for either volunteering, taking a class or working at a paying job. She is very resistant to the idea of doing anything but hanging out with her friends. Does anyone have any clever ideas as to how I might suggest a way in which she herself might find something constructive to do? Any resources for summer activities for teens which are community service oriented ? I feel I am asking really dumb questions here, but I really don't know what to do. When I even broach the subject of doing something other than playing the whole summer "by ear" my daughter gets combative. I must be doing something wrong. All I want to convey to her is: You must find something [acceptable to me and Dad] to occupy a minimum of 50% of your time and the best way to have some choices would be to start looking around now. Does this sound reasonable to other parents out there? Am I being heavy handed to insist on discussing it now? Any and all sorts of advice are welcome: advice about the mechanics of finding someting to advice on how to improve my parental approach. Thanks, The Wet Blanket
Modern circumstances have altered the role of parenthood from the old fashioned authoritarian guardianship to something that might be characterized as a facilitator guardianship. As such, your main leverage as a parent is the degree to which you facilitate their interests and desires. The regulatory function is no longer a matter of "do it or else", but, you can still impose your will on reluctant children by less direct yet effective means. In short, you provide encouragement, compliments and support for those behaviors that you approve of and speak out against, complain, and withhold support from those behaviors that you don't approve of. What are the alternatives? You can try bluffing them with empty threats but unless your child is somewhat dull they see right through it and call your bluff. You can get tough but so can they and when push comes to shove they will most likely be judged innocent and you guilty.
Don't let this discourage you. You have the advantage. Teenagers think that they know everything and you are so much wiser and experienced than they are. You merely have to trick them into doing the right thing and let them think that it was their idea. You must converse with them and ask them a lot of questions. When you get an answer that is acceptable to your purpose you seize upon that and promote it and provide the support to move that particular idea from thought to deed.
In your particular case, Ms. Wet Blanket, my first impression is that whatever "constructive" activities your daughter is going to end up doing are going to have to include one or more of her friends. Perhaps you can get her and a couple of her friends to apply for summer jobs at the same place or to volunteer for the same thing. She wants to be with her friends and you can facilitate this and lend your support to this providing they are doing something of value together.
Finally, although she doesn't know it, she is still just a kid and considering what modern life holds for her in the future, her teen years are her probably the greatest opportunity for the pure enjoyment of living that she will have in her lifetime. It is your responsibility and privilege to see to it that you steer her to those things that will provide her with memorable times that will help sustain her as she takes on the awesome task of facing the coming years. Help her to find something constructive to do that she will cherish the memory of having done and you will both be getting exactly what you want. Frank
Once they get to be about 16, many if not most of their friends are going to be working or taking classes or doing other things in the summer, so "just hanging out" may well mean hanging out by herself for a good part of the time. Now's a good time to make a few phone calls to your daughter's friends' parents and find out what their plans are. You will have more leverage if you can point out to your daughter that most of her friends will not actually be available for hanging out this summer. Also you both may get some ideas for activities that your daughter might like, especially if her friends will be there too. This time last year, my older son discovered that many of his friends were planning to be counselors at Strawberry. He got in his application in time (er, actually I finished it myself and mailed it for him) and he had a great time, met new friends, made some money, and is applying again this summer.
But my battles began before summer, since I insisted that she have a plan for after school time. I just repeated over and over, hanging out with your friends on Telegraph Ave after school every day is not acceptable. Eventually, we developed ideas. I bought her a membership in the YMCA, so that one or two afternoons a week she went there. She found that she had friends who also worked out. And although at first she was going to swim, it turned out she discovered other fun things, like weight lifting and other exercise machines. And I did eventually give her permission to go to a friend's house after school one day a week. Anyway, developing a plan took a long time, and over time, changes happened.
These days it is relatively easy for teens to get jobs, I think. At least there are lots of openings listed in store windows. It might help if you brain storm with your daughter about how to get a job. First general type of environment she might like working in. Second, the information she needs to have all together in order to fill out an application. Third how to ask for an appointment. Fourth practicing asking questions with her. But again, teaching teens about getting jobs takes time.
Other things your teen might do, is take a class. Mine took driver's ed. And I forced her to volunteer one day a week, the summer before she started working. It turned out she liked the volunteering sort of. It was a long bus ride. And when she started working after her junior year, what she really liked, probably more than the money, was the young people she met.
Another helpful idea would be to ask her what her friends are doing this summer. If they are going to be busy, working, or whatever, then she might realize that she can't just hang with them. Because I work in a bookstore, I had the luxury of insisting that if she didn't develop a plan, then the plan would be to come to the bookstore.
I wish you lots of luck and your idea, that your daughter has to do something is not extreme. When my teen got combative, I always said. "Well you have a very conservative, old-fashioned parent. Sorry." And I would also say that "Having a plan for what you are going to do is not negotiable. What is negotiable is what the plan will consist of."
My daughter was given a smallish allowance. Therefore she noticed that in order to afford her life style, going to the movies, buying CD's, having lunch with friends, she needed to earn money.
Hope this helps. Cheers. Kirsten
I feel extremely strongly about doing something. Despite his protests to the contrary, I think my son would just sit around and ultimately get depressed if he had no structure in his life for any length of time. In the past he has always gone to camp, but as he gets older it becomes harder and harder to find appropriate activities. This year we simply selected from the rather slim camp pickings. Realistically, he's not quite old enough to get a job yet.
I don't have any vast wisdom on the parenting aspect of the power struggle involved. My son splits his time between two households and he tells me that his father doesn't mind if he does nothing. I have resorted to telling him that if he wishes to do nothing he will have to go live with his father as I am absolutely unwilling to agree to it. So far it's worked. Yes, I do believe that I would follow through with the threat.
- Even Wetter Blanket
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