Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Day Camp Dilemma -- by Cara Meyers

One would think, especially a Mom, that day camp for their grade school age child would be easy street on roller blades. First off, your child is out of the home for at least an amount of time equivalent to a full day of school, if not more. Secondly, the day camp experience certainly will wear your child out, what with swimming, sports-type games and general play activities. Then how come some Moms come to dread the end of the day from camp?

Could it be that the damp backpack must first be unloaded, even though you provided your child with ample gallon-size plastic bags and plastic grocery bags to but their wet things in? The bags are usually at the bottom of said wet backpack with ignored sunscreen.

Then there is the precious camp t-shirt. That ONE t-shirt. That must be clean. And dry. Each day of camp. Which means, of course, one of two things: If the t-shirt does not have any visible stains, you can always get away with trying to just hang it up, hoping it dries sufficiently by morning. Or, as is in my case, because I have a boy, and boys are, um, dirty, you must wash the t-shirt each evening. And why wash just one t-shirt when you can throw in the bathing suits, towel, and other miscellaneous laundry lying around that happen to be the same color. So now we are doing laundry at least 5 nights a week.

Next there is the preparation of getting the following day’s camp wear assembled for the next day. Does the following day start with swimming, which would require having your child wear his swim wear to camp while packing dry shorts and the camp t-shirt to change into later on? Or will there be sports activities, necessitating the wearing of shorts and camp t-shirt, while the packing of swim wear for the afternoon instead. And don’t ever forget to pack the water shoes! A mother always knows to have at least two pair, so that while one dries out, the other can be packed for the following day. The same usually goes with sneakers. If one pair gets wet, you have the spare set.

So, obviously, paying attention to the daily camp schedule is of utmost importance. As are the daily activities themselves. Is it “Tie-dye Day?” Then a clean, previously washed white t-shirt will need to be packed. Is it pizza day? Then your child will need to bring in $7. And what if all you have in your wallet are $10s and $20s? Will you be able to get change back? Will you have to send in a $5 you found in your husband’s back pocket and some quarters?

And if it is not pizza day, there is the dreaded packing of a cold lunch that must withstand the heat of a summer day. One counselor suggested freezing a bottle of water to keep the contents of the lunch tote cold. Well, that idea turned my son’s lunch into a complete soggy mess, even with every item sealed in plastic bags. The water also didn’t defrost fast enough, so my son got a couple sips from the bottle and left it in the tote to melt the rest of the day. I had to pour out the contents of the tote over the sink. It was flooded.

So why is it that we Moms look forward to summer and the day camp experience for our children? The only reasonable reason I seem to have been able to come up with?
No homework.

Next Week: My husband has decided to take the Day Camp Dilemma challenge and see whether he can do a better job at preparing my son for Day Camp each day. The results will be the topic of next week’s blog.

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