As a teacher with summers off, I have the luxury of being flexible with my children and their summer plans. Until this summer, I had at least one child still in daycare, so it was nice to send the others to a couple of week-long half-day camps and have a few days to do fun things together.
However, as my children get older, I accept that I cannot be the sole provider of summer fun every day for two months.
Back in April, I signed the kids up for Playground Camp through our town’s recreation department. It is very affordable, and I figured they would go a couple of days a week to give me a chance to run errands or enjoy some quiet.
Here is what happened. My kids begged to go every day and asked to get picked up later and later. They came home dirty, sweaty, tired, and sun-kissed, and I could not be happier. This summer reminds me of summers I had as a kid being outside playing with my friends all day long.
I also watched my kids grow up a little and come into their own.
My oldest son is a bit reserved. He is a homebody and does not mind a lull in socialization over the summer as much as my other two. He was a bit reluctant to go to camp, but he got some attention for a hat he wore on the first day, and every day since, and for how good he is at the game Four Square. He made some new friends, one of whom, he brags, is two grades older! When the counselors told me my son performed in the talent show, I was shocked! Breaking out of his bubble seems to be exactly what he needed.
My daughter, on the other hand, is a social butterfly. She thrives on interacting with other kids. She enjoys being in on the action and being surrounded by her peers every day this summer has tremendously impacted her behavior at home and her confidence. Her wrists and ankles are filled with friendship bracelets, and she loves being helpful to the counselors. She is a total camp kid. We have even discussed sending her to sleepaway camp in the future.
As summer begins to fade and we begin to think about the start of the school year, I know my children will have fond memories and stories to share about Playground Camp. I know they have created new, strong friendships, and I look forward to signing them up again for many years.
This summer, I learned we do not need to fill the days with activity after activity. The kids are happy to be dropped off at camp and enjoy simple fun!