Summer Camps – The good, the bad and the ugly

mak to HPEvery summer comes the summer camp debate.

Is this the year we can finally stop schlepping the kids all over for the same basic [expensive] experience when they’d rather be at home playing video games and I’d rather save the gas money and time?

For the past six years, we have come to the same conclusion – NO! We love the chance for them to mix it up with some new kids and have fun experiences while hopefully learning something in the process.

Not to mention now that I am a SAHM, a week with one or two less kids whining about how bored they are never hurt anybody!

When it comes to the best experiences for both the kids and me, it has to be the ones we call Fun Science. They teach scientific concepts, but under the guise of the movie theme; like Harry Potter potions that are really vinegar and baking soda.

There are also the straightforward science camps, like the one the boys attended this summer simply entitled, STEM Camp. They had a great time and were only slightly disappointed that they didn’t actually get to blow up a lab while they were there!

Makenna can’t get enough dancing and singing summer camps. She practices her heart out for those end of the week performances nearly as much as she does for recitals!

But summer camp isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

First there’s the scheduling. While many offer before and after care for a fee, there are those camps that are half day or have odd start and end times like 10-2. How is a working mom supposed to make that work?

Then there are lunches and snacks, which are mostly not provided. And if your kid has food allergies, well, you’ll be packing anyways! Nevermind how many times I have had to run back to camp with a forgotten lunch or snack. Ugh!

My favorite camps are the daycare-dressed-up-like-summer-camp adventure. We sent Makenna to a camp that was supposed to be about under sea animals including a trip to the aquarium. After two days of bullying, a stolen lunch and a single sea creature art project, she opted out and didn’t even go on the aquarium trip!

Did I mention that you pay for all this fun? Not just in fees, costumes, souveniers and performance tickets, but also in gas trekking all over. (My friend Sara racked up nearly a 1,000 miles in one week taking two kids to two camps. YIKES!!)

With all this in mind, I say, look out summer of 2013! I think the debate may be over. Here’s to a summer of creating your own family fun. To adventuring, exploring and learning that happens through shared family experiences. And to saving some time, money and sanity! Woohoo!


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