Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Kids & camps
May 2, 2018
The countdown has begun once again. Only "x" number of days left. I hear my teacher friends making plans for summer vacation.
A professor I know has already corrected exams, posted grades and dispatched this on social media: "… So, I picked up my stuff, skipped out of my office, shut the door, & said, 'See ya in August!' #Summertime."
Regardless of the temperature outside, summer is just around the corner and another school year is ending. There is a bit more pressure to be making memories while the kids are young.
For some families it means, "Where are we going?" But for many others it screams, "What are we going to do with the kids?"
When I was a single parent and had two young children, every school break came with the same dilemma: Who would watch my kids while I was at work?
The fiscal impact was also an issue, but it was secondary to figuring out where I would feel good leaving them day after day.
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When summer came around, there were many more options of where to send them, primarily in the form of summer camps.
Off to camp
One year, because my son was fortunate enough to be in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, he was offered a free week at a local overnight camp. I was excited to be able to send him off on what I thought would be a wonderful experience.
I still treasured my own memories of camping as a young girl scout — boating, hiking, exploring, singing songs, telling tales around the camp fire, and developing lifelong friendships.
With much fanfare I packed his things and dropped him off with a kiss and a promise to return the following week.
It gave my young daughter and I a rare week alone and everyone was excited. But, mid-way through the week I received a letter from him that went something like this: "Dear Mom, please, please get me. This is not fun. I hate it here. The stains on this paper are from my tears. Love, your son."
Of course, I was dismayed. Surely, he was just having a tough time adjusting. He was probably already better. Camp is fun!
It took everything in my power to wait until the appointed day to pick him up. He did not adjust. He was not better. He did not have fun.
Fast forward a couple of years and my daughter came home with a flyer from another summer camp. She begged me to let her go. I was reluctant, given her brother's example but acquiesced.
With the same fanfare, we packed her up and sent her on her way. There was no letter home. When I arrived the following week to bring her home, she dragged her heels, begging to stay another week.
As it turned out, what was not so great for one child was fantastic for the other. I am still glad they went. It was important for them to have tried it. And then we knew. Some will thrive. Others will count the days until they can get back to the land of technology.
Choosing the right camp
Luckily, overnight camping is not the only choice when it comes to summer programs for kids. Over the years and with what eventually became seven children to find supervision for during the summer months, we discovered several great options.
Day camps that focus on sports, camps that focus on the environment, on local culture, on art and camps that simply offered organized, supervised, activities took the burden off what we would do to keep them from a) becoming bored or b) getting into trouble.
There were camps for about every interest, so the challenge became in deciding which one to attend.
When I ask my kids about their summer memories, family trips are usually at the top of the list, but are often followed with, "Remember that time I went to camp and … "
To which I always reply, "How could I forget?"
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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