I have a love/hate relationship with summer camp. Don’t get me wrong; my children look forward to the warm sunny days filled with swimming and archery as though they are Christmas in July, and for that I’m grateful. It’s just that with every yin there’s a yang, and while the benefits of camp don’t appear during the school year, well, neither do the drawbacks.
Things I hate, as a Mom, about Summer Camp
- Damp towels and bathing suits – the only thing worse than coming home to find a pile of these little wet treasures in front of the dryer (not IN the dryer, Heaven forbid) is smelling them when you open their backpacks. The next morning. Where they have had all night in the dark humidity to grow their otherworldly stink. Of course, after a few weeks of tackling them as they walk through the door to “train them” into putting them in the dryer and pressing ON, I eventually give up. I figure that having to put on a funky bathing suit and dry yourself with a moldy towel will teach them a lesson. It never does.
- That Four Letter Word – yes, parents, you all know what I’m talking about. Lice (I itch just typing it). The first time you realize your child has it, it’s all consuming; after that you learn that it’s just a potential hazard of camp life and does not whatsoever reflect on your child’s hygiene (despite what I have just called out above). Luckily I have learned a relatively quick and surefire way to rid your child of this summertime nightmare but still, it makes me groan when the kids head to their first day of camp. I mean, poor Georgia, with her beautiful curly hair; I guess I should be glad it’s just a couple of bugs and not a family of squirrels living in there.
- Packing camp lunches – full disclosure, Andy is the one who really manages this job but as I’m the one who does the food shopping, I’m always amazed at how much lunch meat and snacks they go through on a weekly basis. 27 pounds of sliced turkey and 15 pounds of ham, a 12-foot tower of American cheese and enough bread to put Wonder back in business yet I can’t afford a pedicure? I consider it a fiduciary win that I’m still able to budget for wine. A girl’s gotta have priorities, you know.
Things I love, as a Mom, about Summer Camp
- “Camp Friends” – Ben gets to hang with Pete and Davis. Georgia’s besties are Rachel, Molly and Ellie. Both of them look forward to seeing these kids all year long and LOVE being able to have mysterious buddies from other towns that their school friends don’t know. And just this morning, 3-year old Quinn announced, “Umm, I have a new friend at camp. Her name is Izzy. She’s a kid, not a counseluh. She is new.” To see him transform from the shy new kid to head of the welcoming committee for new campers just four weeks later? Warms the cockles of my heart.
- Daily activities – everyday my tanned and blonde-highlighted children come home and regale us with tales of what they did at camp (we still have to press Ben, but it’s easier than it is during the school year). From Archery to “Gymnaxticks” (Quinn’s favorite), Wiggles and Giggles to Beading, Dodgeball to kayaking, these kids have a blast. They even finally explained how Gaga Dodgeball is different than regular Dodgeball (they play in an octagon versus a rectangle), so now after eight years, I get it. And although I find gimp everywhere from the floor of my car to the shower drain (true story), the 14 new bracelets and keychains I have each summer keep life colorful at the very least.
- The End of Day Exhaustion – nothing is better than a child who is so tuckered out from fun and laughing and sun and swimming that they willingly go to bed and even (gasp!) sleep in the next day. It’s a beautiful thing and worth every penny that I’m spending on the electric bill for the dryer that’s running overtime.
Although my entire summer camp experience was limited to a single two-week Park and Rec Tennis program (that I’m quite sure actually made me worse of a player than I was to begin with), I love that my own kids will have these memories. Sure, their camp started off as a summertime daycare for us, but it has since morphed into a time of their lives that they’ll never forget with friends they’ll always have. In a way, I’m actually a little jealous.
I’m even working on a gimp belt. And not for nothing, it’s pretty awesome.