Getting Ready for Summer

We are so close to summer time. The lazy days ahead, the free time, the play…it’s a freakin’ Country Time Lemonade ad, right? Not for kids of working parents. Summer time is really a race to find childcare for weeks at a time that don’t make you feel guilty as a parent for working their childhood away and don’t bore the bejezus out of your kid and make their therapist wealthy later on. Yay! Camp!

At least that’s how I feel about it. This is new for me this year. Last year, my daughter was a preschooler. We had daycare. While it was expensive, it was so SIMPLE.   There was no disruption in your daily operations. You paid your tuition, packed her up and sent her to daycare just like the rest of the year. Summer with a school-age kid is a whole different ball game.

First, everything is called “camp” no matter what it is. Girl Scout Camp. Bible Camp. Park and Rec Camp. You can be sending your kids to the town hall to watch paint dry all day and it would still be called “camp.” So you gotta watch out for sneaky descriptions. They all feature “Nature Explorations.” What the heck does that mean? Could be code for “Spending all day playing in the dirt pit we call the campground.” Are they really going to be “swimming in the lake, riding canoes & paddle boats, playing on the basketball courts, hiking, making arts & crafts, with exciting theme days and much more!” I’ll believe it when I see it.

Ready to have some summer fun! Photo: K. Stevenson
Ready to have some summer fun!
Photo: K. Stevenson

Second, no one single day camp in our area is open for the whole day. This is a logistical nightmare for the working parent. Don’t call it “Day Camp” then. Call it “Most of the Day (but you’re going to be late for work and have to leave early) Camp.”  I had to pay extra for before camp care and then figure out how to get my daughter picked up in the middle of the afternoon. At least they conveniently provide after camp care too…for another fee.  WHA?? Who are these parents who can make these 9:00-3:30 hours work? Where do they work and are they hiring?

With all the weeks I needed to sign up for, plus the before camp program, it was hard to keep track. Of course I messed it up. The one week I took off from camp for a vacation is the one week all summer that we have a commitment. No vacation that week for us! So I’m going back to the drawing board on that one. Since the camps in our area don’t use online registrations, I actually have to make phone calls to straighten this out. To actual people.  Seriously, why is this so hard?

As usual, when you’re turning your child over to any kind of care outside of school, you’re putting your trust in a few qualified adults. But mostly it’s the teenagers and college kids in charge. My husband is high school teacher. All his students gave him the low-down on what the counselors at our town camps are really like: Slackers who just want to hook up with each other and plan the night’s party. And those are the quote-unquote good kids. Oh yeah. (I remember those days.)

The list of things to bring to camp is basically a list of things to look for at lost and found every day. Water bottles, cups, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, bug spray, socks, bathing suit, towels, rain poncho. Don’t forget to label everything! She’s never going to keep that all together. And what does one wear to summer camp to be prepared for anything our Connecticut weather throws our way? I’ve seen a lot of stores pushing the oh-so-cute romper for girls. Really? Who thought this was a good fashion idea for a 6 year old? You gotta get naked to pee when you wear this thing! Ok, the kid can barely wipe herself.   Come on!

Don't even get me started on the adult version of these!  Photo: Old Navy
Don’t even get me started on the adult version of these!
Photo: Old Navy

The last thing I have to do to get Zoey ready for camp is to tell her she’s going. Yeah, I forgot to explain to her what camp is and that she’s going. Way to drop a bomb, Mom. So much for all the hype about summer and summer VACATION.  I’ll be sending her into a new environment with new kids and a new routine. I’ve got to start getting her ready. The question is how? She’s already getting slightly freaked out about leaving kindergarten to make her way to first grade. Now I’m going to flip her world upside down one more time. It builds character, right? I just have to figure out the best way to introduce her to all this slowly and gently. And then make a run for it on the first day of camp.

Gotta go Honey! Have fun! I’m late for work! Oh, to be a kid again!

18 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Summer

  1. Oh god. I now have a pit in my stomach thinking about what that’ll be like in just a few short years. Guess I need to relish these next few years we have left at full-time daycare, despite the exorbinant price.

  2. You are singing my song sister!!! I was just saying to my wife that summer is so bittersweet (no homework battles, yay!!…oh wait, WTF are we going to do with the kids?!?). I printed off a 3 month calender and literally have each day all scribbled on depicting which kid is where which day – a twisted combo of camps, babysitters, and drop-off programs. It is insanity. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

    Did i mention I hate puzzles?

    1. I have the same calendar! Why does camp only cover certain weeks of summer? And don’t get me started on the 9-3 hours of camp. The juggling of summer stuff makes the “relaxing” part of summer fade so quickly.

      1. Oh and I forgot to book that post week before school starts and it’s now full. Super!

  3. Oh, yes! You hit the nail squarely on the head! This summer, my son is going to 4(!!!) different camps because the town camp that he used to go to is only for elementary school students. It’s a challenge – both finding the camps and paying for them!

    1. Thanks Ann! I don’t even want to think about what happens when she ages out of the town camps! When I was younger, I stayed at home by myself a lot after school because both parents worked. I’m talking about when I was 12 or so, though. And summer was no different. I’m just not sure I could do that. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess.

  4. Rompers make absolutely no sense to me either.

    As a camp counselor/director for 14 YEARS(!) I have to admit that while the kids had fun and were cared for, there was a lot of party planning and rehashing that went on among the counselors?

  5. Kriste! THANK YOU! I totally could have written this. Literally, every-single-thing you wrote. ALL of it. I have been going through this unfortunate stress for years now with my kids, every summer. Its not fun, especially – as you said – when everyone else is “so excited” for summer and the “down time” and not rushing out of the house and letting the kids sleep in… Ugh. It is SO the opposite for us working parents. It makes it worse and harder and more stressful. Not to mention, the kids have to be up and out of the house EARLIER than when in school, to either make the camp bus or you driving that much further to go to that new and different camp. Where, yes – they know no one (yet). Oh, and the daily packing of the back-pack, now not just a lunch, but bathing suits, towels, sunscreen, goggles, water bottles, extra clothing. I laughed SO hard at your “lost and found” list. I have learned to try and let that not upset me as much as it used to. Very hard, especially when you purchase multiple swim shirts and goggles and water bottles at the beginning of the summer… knowing you will end up with maybe 1 of each at the end, if you are lucky. The “before and after” care charge is a zinger for sure. THANK YOU AGAIN for making us know we are not alone… deep breaths! 🙂
    p.s. Michelle, to answer your question – it is very typical that the very last week before school starts up again there are no camps open… yet more time one needs to take off and manage into the working schedule.

    1. Wow India! You really could have written this post! I’m glad you found comfort in our numbers. So many working parents are facing this now. Did it ever seem this complicated for our parents? Good luck with your juggling act this summer. I’ll be thinking of you.

  6. This is one of those things that worries me! What DO working parents do with their kids all summer?? Does camp last the entire summer?

    1. If you are my sister in law, you have an awesome SIL (me!) who offers to take your kids for 2 weeks while mom and dad get to either work kid-free or go on vacation! 😉

    2. I haven’t figured it all out myself. I still have a few weeks of blank calendar. School in our town gets out the 16th and camps don’t start until the 23rd. And the week before school starts, there’s no camp. The only answer to all those questions is: IMPROVISE.

      1. This is my struggle too. I have an almost 4 year old who is too young for full day camp and a 5 1/2 year old who can go to full say camp so they won’t be together and I am paying a fortune for an all day daycare for the 3 year old that is close to the 5 year old. It is mind numbing and so expensive. I hate summers now.

      2. It’s definitely rough to have to juggle both of those situations! I hope you can get some comfort in knowing a ton of us are in the same boat and feel your pain! I wish there was an easy answer. The good news is, with kids, they really have no idea that all this behind the scenes stuff is going on. They love summer no matter what it is you do with them. I’ll be trying to squeeze in the “memories” whenever I have the opportunity!

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