“Look, mom, LOOK!” my son exclaimed, bounding in the door. He clutched tightly in his fist a flyer. I asked him to bring it to me for examination. It turns out his grief group is going to have a sleep away camp for three days. I looked at him quizzically. A million memories flooded my brain of my own childhood. They involved a lot of bug spray and many mosquito bites.
“You know, this would be three days away from your parents?” I clarified cautiously, attempting to gauge his understanding but not wanting to dissuade him. He smiled brightly.
“Yes, it would be THREE DAYS AWAY FROM MY PARENTS!” he breathed excitedly, conveying the thing I thought would scare him the most was the entire point of the request. I was surprised, to say the least.
I went to summer camp as a kid. I got on the ferry and then another ferry and went to a camp my aunt used to work at. It was always fun, and I never got homesick. I was a happy camper—literally. I learned so much, made lots of friends (no easy feat for an awkward, gangly tween) and had so many experiences I would never have had otherwise.
Because of my positive experiences, I was very game for this idea. I started looking up summer camps as an alternative to daycare all summer to give him a little break and try some more new things. He interpreted my silence as disapproval and immediately launched into his sales pitch.
“You know, Mom, this would be the perfect opportunity for you to get some work done. You wouldn’t have to worry about putting me to bed. Technically I would be doing you a FAVOUR by going,” he explained, eyes wide with excitement. I could see the hope building inside him. The suspense was killing him.
“Of course you can go, buddy. It’s totally fine,” I pretended to capitulate, so he could feel like he successfully negotiated his own freedom for the summer. We sat together and watched videos of the camps and he became more and more excited.
We looked at horse camps and camps with climbing walls, archery, canoeing and all sorts of activities. We would scroll through the list and when we came to the price tag in some cases, he was aghast.
“No, mommy, that’s too much. I only want to go to camps that aren’t more expensive than daycare,” he decided. I couldn’t help but smile inside, my frugal little boy, so responsible for eight years old.
“You let mommy worry about the money buddy, just remember to use your bug spray,” I laughed. In that moment, I knew this summer is going to be great.
How did you choose a summer camp for your kids?