When George Gershwin wrote “summer time, and the living is easy,” he obviously had never had the task of entertaining a couple of kids.
For three months. Hot months.
Oh sure, the first week or two is great. Everyone sleeps late. Everyone is content to hang out in the neighborhood, tearing up the yard and experiencing the sense of freedom that you only feel when you’re a kid on summer break.
But then boredom strikes, and parents start hearing the dreaded phrase, “There’s nothing to do.”
Over and over again.
You can reply with the age-old parental comeback, “I’ll give you something to do,” and start assigning chores and summer reading.
But if you start forcing the kids to mow the grass, wax the minivan, vacuum and do laundry, you could not only end up with a lawn that looks like a punk-rocker’s hair, a murky-looking van and pink boxers, but also just hear more inventive expressions of indignities from the kids.
Or you could send them to camp.
Sure, the all-summer-long, see-your-kids-twice-in-three-months brand of camps might be tempting at times. But let’s face it. When they’re not around, we tend to miss them. After a few hours anyway.
OK, a few days.
But the Columbia area is bursting at the seams with various day camps to keep your munchkins busy, happy and away from you for a few hours every day.
There’s art, baseball, circus, dance … all the way to zoo camp.
Variety is good. It also can be overwhelming.
How can you sort through the dozens and dozens of camps at recreation centers, schools, churches, museums and the vacant building that you thought was condemned a few years back, and come up with a summer schedule for your child?
First of all, get a calendar. Mark down all your plans for the summer (vacations, family reunions, Vacation Bible School, visits from the grandparents).
Then, after you’re over the depression that comes when you have your annual realization that summer really is too short, talk with your child and try to discern what he would have fun doing.
Veteran summer camp parents advise to pay particular attention to the registration deadline information. Or in some cases, more importantly, the date when camps will start accepting applications.
Some of these camps, like Riverbanks Zoo Camps, fill up quickly, and it’s a competition among parents to see who can snare one of the coveted spots.
Your reward is you get to pay a lot of money so you can drive back and forth to camp five days in a row.
But it’s worth it when you see your precious little ones run to you at the end of the day with excitement in their eyes, eager to tell you about all the wonderful things they did that day.
Right. Let’s just say it’s worth for the kids because they don’t have to do chores, and they’re kept busy and happy with interesting activities that they probably won’t “remember” enough to tell you about afterwards. (It’s the same amnesia problem they have every day after school when they can’t remember what they did for the previous seven hours.)
And, of course, the parents get a brief respite from “there’s nothing to do.”
A win-win situation.
From The State newspaper archives, written by Lezlie Patterson, 2002