**Important disclaimer: For those of you lifelong summer sleepaway camp families, please skip this blog post, or be forewarned and forgive me in advance for what I’m about to tell you. My goal in writing the No Regrets Parenting Blog is to give you new ideas and new approaches to finding time with your kids, not to disrupt family traditions that work well for you. You needn’t fix what’s not broken. But, that said . . .
The question about sleepaway camps has come up twice this week in interviews I’m doing for the No Regrets Parenting book, including an interview for Parents Magazine’s radio program on Sirius XM this past weekend. Alright, let’s deal with this hot-button issue straight on – I am not a fan of sleepaway camps. Now I’ve said it, so go ahead and hate me.
But first, let me tell you my thinking. Soon enough your kids will move out—to college or to life’s other endeavors that take them from you and your home. Why send them away prematurely? Sleepaway camp is like short-term boarding school. It is true that camp is a great experience for kids. It teaches them independence, self-reliance, interpersonal and social skills, and how to squat over a toilet seat to avoid physically touching anything in those disgusting bathrooms. And the friendships at sleepaway camp are intense and often lifelong. But kids can get almost all of those same benefits at day camp, and still come home for dinner every night, where they can share the experiences of their day with you, and vice versa. Kids can eat camp food, sing camp songs, play camp pranks—and still be home for a bedtime story and kiss goodnight.
Summers are important times in your family’s life. Yes, you still have to work, and the kids still need to be happily occupied during the day. But without the burden of homework and the rigor of other school rituals, summers give your family leisurely evenings to linger over dinner on the patio, a ballgame at the stadium, the short walk or drive for ice cream, or a pajama walk through the neighborhood.
Day camps might be the best of all worlds for your family: structured time during the day when you’re busy with work, and evenings all together to do the things you never take the time for during the school year. And you’ll be able to afford more evening activities with all the money you’ll save by not paying room and board at sleepaway camp. Why give up summer evenings with your kids by sending them away from home before you have to?
Let me know what you think about summer camps for kids, sleepaway and day camps. Add your comments in the box below. If the box isn’t there, click on the title of this blog post and the box will magically appear.
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