It has begun, for every parent, teacher and student, the count down to summer. With Memorial Day just around the corner the intensity of the countdown begins in earnest. Ask a child how many days they have left in the school year and they can tell you immediately, with accuracy to the minute. Ask a parent and they are less likely to know the details but feel the upcoming pressure mounting. What are the plans for the summer, are the reservations set, how will I fill my child’s free time, how will I keep them active and keep the whining to a minimum. Most children are excited about summer vacation but that lasts for a very short time frame. The beauty of our school system is the rigorous schedule, your child may not enjoy aspects of it but the reality is schools are effective people movers. Your child has a schedule that is consistent, predictable and rigid. Schools fill your child’s day with activities, lesson assignments and order in a chaotic environment. As parents we can debate standardized testing, classroom size and school budgets but keeping your child on a focused schedule we cannot argue. Schools have that down to a science.
Breaking that schedule is part of what excites your child about summer plus the anticipation of fun: Fun with friends, fun vacations, fun summer camps and the freedom to break out of the rigid schedule of the school year. And that lasts for about a week! The reality is as parents we don’t have lesson plans for every hour of every day. We have the big plans down, hopefully, but the rest of summer is vague, unplanned, “spontaneous” and frankly boring for our kids. If your child is getting 8 hours of sleep per night, they are expecting you to fill the remaining 16 hours x 7 days a week. Are you freaking out yet? To manage this more effectively take a page from your child’s teacher. Have a working schedule; give your child a level of structure they have come to expect at school. This gives them something to count on each day, lowers the pressure to “have fun” and keeps the whining under control. Whether you are a stay at home parent or working professionally out of the home you keep a calendar of upcoming events in order to be successful. Do the same with your child’s summer vacation. This structure will feel normal and natural to your child and will minimize the dreaded statement heard every summer, ”I’m bored”.
With last week’s snowfall, sledding, snowshoeing and skiing still fresh in my mind, it might seem strange to be thinking about kid’s summer camp options but that is the topic this month. Summer may seem like an eternity of rainy Oregon days from now but the reality is in 4 short months your children will be out of school. Scrambling at the last minute for a slot to your child’s camp of choice is not ideal. With a little preplanning and Internet sleuthing you can quickly narrow down the field of available camps and find the perfect summer experience for your child.
A couple of things to keep in mind regarding summer camp searches:
What is the time frame and does your work or volunteer schedule fit within these parameters? Why add additional stress to your summer if the start or end time of the camp doesn’t fit into the rest of your schedule.
Does the camp have weekly options, day drop-ins, how flexible is the camp schedule? No since signing up for a camp that interferes with your vacation plans, family reunion or summer birthday celebrations.
Is the camp a good fit for your child? The camp might have a great reputation and curriculum but does it fit with your child’s personality? Will this experience be beneficial to your child or cause emotional stress that inadvertently causes more harm than good to your little camper? Is the camp focus one that will challenge their imagination, creativity and be fun?
What is the ratio of instructor to student? This is critical for a safe and fun experience for your child? What is the background and direct supervision format of the camp director and the individual teaching your child? Talk to other parents with direct knowledge of the camp if you are able.
We all want our children to make new friends at camp, share experiences and have a great time. If your child is open to new experiences, confident and willing to “jump in” to new experiences without their parents or close peers involved, you are lucky and camp will be amazing for your child. If that didn’t conjure up an image of your child, than the best way to insure camp success is pairing your child up with a close friend. This at least gets them excited about the possibilities of camp, on the bus or out of your car. You are paying your hard earned money for summer camp and the last thing you need is a daily argument about going. The friend pairing is the key. Chances are they will also make new friendships at camp too, but if you have your doubts trust me on the friend pairing.
Lastly, remember that camp is for your child enjoyment but also your sanity. It is amazing the level of stress the following sentence can have on a parent, ”I’m bored”. How soon after summer vacation begins do you hear that whiny sentence? A week, maybe two if you are lucky. Summer camp gives you both something to look forward to and an experience to share at the end of camp everyday.
For a list of camps check out the following URL’s, it’s a few lists that might help begin your search. The rest of the homework on the camp is up to you, but set that snow shovel aside and start looking now. Four months and counting…
December 31st is a milestone for many of us, the cusp of a new year, a night to hang out with friends, a day to exhale because you survived the holiday season and a night to celebrate your successes in the past year. It is also a time we often look at our lives and reflect on what could have been better this past year. New Years resolutions are nothing new and many more where made this year. Lose weight, get fit, spend more time with the family, and make more money are a few of the popular topics. Sadly, most New Years resolutions don’t last a week, fewer yet 30 days and the vast majorities don’t see summer. Why is that? Are they just another holiday tradition like trimming the tree, seeing the Nutcracker or going skiing? The concept of bettering oneself is admirable and if New Years Day can be the tipping point for change than why not embrace it. I found this blog article that presents very good strategies for successfully mapping out your resolution’s.
The article actually morphed into 23 ways to live a more positive fulfilling and happy life…but who’s counting. I found the thoughts behind it empowering, informative and good tools to start out this New Year with more success for your resolution. If you have already slipped on your resolution for the year, read this article and realize you don’t need a special date to make changes. Good luck!