Categorized | Xtras

Summer Camp: the Alternative

Posted on 06 July 2012

By Anetta Nowosielska

According to the calendar summer started June 21. But we Hamptonites know better. The real season out East doesn’t truly kick into high gear until the 4th of July weekend. And with it comes a slew of problems so unique to this area, offering the locals ample opportunities to moan and whine.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. The overeager parking enforcement, bumper to bumper on 114, settling for eating at the bar of your favorite restaurant (if you’re lucky) and those ridiculous restaurant reservation beepers that just refuse to light up.

And don’t even get me started on what’s happening at Book Hampton, as it gets jam packed when Sen is attempting to manage its sushi-starved traffic. Ridiculous is an understatement.

Another source of bewilderment for yours truly this time of the year is the summer camp situation. As in, the improbable costs of sending your offspring to a daily, 6-hour long coterie of amusements, where the acquired skill set will most likely not significantly change life’s course for your little one (but it does free you up to lunch with your girlfriends.) Naturally, summertime fun comes at a price. But in what universe is playing tag or making a collage worth almost 1000 American dollars weekly? Are the summer crayons magical? Is Boris Becker in charge of the tennis program? As far as I can tell, not really.

But mommies are signing up and the programs urge swift action as the space is limited. Apparently taking care of a pig is all the rage at one camp this summer. Another one is promoting its program on the popular world of robotics.

All of this got me thinking. Doesn’t summer deserve a reprieve from the omnipresent sense of entitlement we have so successfully instilled in our over-confident kids, who demand designer outfits and frown upon internet-free afternoons? What’s wrong with teaching the joys of baking or offering to build something from the sticks in the backyard? These home spun activities are good for activating imagination, not to mention are über eco-friendly. Your car never leaves the driveway.

I could complain about the absurdity of those fancy camps until it’s time to nitpick the school curriculum come fall. But I recently uncovered some unusual ways to occupy your child this summer, and found a new subject to scratch my head about. Now, I’m not advocating these…but who can argue with the virtues of a domestic chore camp?

Composting Camp

Kids are tasked with collecting food waste for mass composting. They are also responsible for turning it on a regular basis throughout the summer. Talk about your sustainability education.

Paper Shredding Camp

How many of us have piles of paper that need to be shredded and no time or inclination to get to it. Get your own army of children and teens to tear up your paperwork. They’ll have a ripping good time.

Pet Care Camp

Perfect for training your child to take care of a pet before you commit to getting one. Or perfect training for your pet to play with a kid before you commit to having one. Either way, walking happens and stuff gets cleaned up.

Gardening Camp

Weeds running rampant in your yard? Bring the neighborhood kids over for gardening camp. What child doesn’t enjoy digging around in the dirt all day? At least this way their digging is doing some good.

Domestic Chore Camp

These are important life skills! How many adults keep playing instruments compared to how many adults go on to cooking and cleaning up their own homes? Clearly Domestic Chore Camp will provide your child with a more usable set of skills than music camp.

Blog/Newspaper Reading Camp

Children read and comment on several stories in order to keep the stats of said site high and the authors’ fragile egos intact.

Sewing Camp

Yes, this is an actual ad for a summer camp program that I found in a parenting magazine. What could be less fun than sewing camp? Not much. That’s why there is always room for your child in this stitch filled week of hunching over a sewing machine. I’m wondering if sewing camp is actually a euphemism for summer sweat shop.

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