It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of camp. It would be pathological of me to run one for twenty years and be anything but. I believe in the transformative power of kids being kids, unencumbered by routine and pressure, encouraged to explore and experience in a milieu that is safe and challenging at the same time. Eleven million kids nationwide agree with me.
But kids aren’t the only winners in a summer of fun sweepstakes. You, their parents, reap the benefits as well. Here’s how.
Mental health. You’re troopers. You’ve been through a war. Nowhere in the parent manual is there even a mention of anything like the past fifteen months. Colic? The terrible twos? Sitting defenseless in the passenger seat as your freshly-minted, learner’s permit-bearing offspring glances down for his phone when a text comes in? None of that compares to lockdown, Zoom school, 24/7 cries of “Mom…. Dad…. I need… Get me…. That’s not fair!” This summer, your kid is in camp. Breathing fresh air. Playing with friends. Not calling for, whining to, hanging on, or needing you. It’s freeing, healing and oh so necessary.
Time. With the kids at camp, you’ve got more of it. It’s not like you’re dashing off for a mani-pedi or a quick nine at the club. Heck, you’re probably working yourself. But the kids are not underfoot, or even within complaining distance. You now have a few moments to focus on something else. Anything else. And when they slump through the door so weary after a day of frolic and merriment that it’s all they can do to stay awake through dinner before putting themselves to bed at 7:00, the feeling of giddiness at the prospect of an evening to yourself or with your spouse is positively intoxicating. Aaaahhhh.
Energy. A relative of “Time.” The parenting trifecta of dinner-bath-and-bed is paralyzing enough. Factor in the added focus and attention demanded by quarantine, and it’s a marvel you could even muster a coherent sentence. Yes, the glass of wine did help. But how liberating to be able to direct your ambition and talent to something more riveting than fractions or tracing a map of the thirteen colonies. Having the kids in camp opens up a world of possibility. And when they’re not with you, how much more energy do you have for them when they are? Funny how that works.
Don’t get me wrong. One of the greatest blessings of this cursed year has been bonding with our kids. But enough already. They have lives. We sorta do. Let’s recalibrate, rebalance, remove the kids from the house and put when where they belong. In camp.