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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Signing up for summer camp, why you need to do it

Summers can be tough, and this one is coming right up. I know (from experience) that to try to entertain the kids by yourself all summer, even if you pack your calendar with fun things to do every single day, is a recipe for disaster. And, honestly, I'm getting old. I just don't have the stamina I had two years ago for kid entertainment.

That first summer before kindergarten we were going to cheap movies at 9 a.m., we took in every free library show we could. We went to the community pool, we went to every park in town. We had friends over for playdates. We did water activities in the backyard.

We were so sick of each other by the end of August it wasn't even funny.

The next year was so much better. I took the time to do my research for summer camps. This, by the way, is HARD.

First, you have to look up all the camps and what they do. For us, anything religious is out. I also stay at home, so I don't want anything in the mornings. My girls will sleep until 9 if I let them, and I'm not waking them up to go to camp. So we needed half days. Then there is the pricing.

First you've got your base price which is anywhere from $100 per child a week (for half time) to $400 per child a week (lol, no). So only the cheapest are for us.

Being that they ARE the cheapest, then we have to do a bunch more research. Where are these places in town? Are they a legitimate organization? Will there be appropriate supervision? Do they know how to help a child who is injured or sick? Are they planning on taking field trips or using vehicles to transport my kids and when? Do they provide food? How many other kids are enrolled and what ages are they? Lots of questions. I'm sure I'm forgetting about 100.

But wait! Your second child sometimes gets a discount! Fantastic. And sometimes if you register early, you pay less. Doubly fantastic!

But wait again! Regardless of all that, you are most likely going to have to pay a "registration fee" if you are not already a member of the organization. So add all that discount money back in.

Okay. Good. Now pick your type of camp. Sports camp, dance camp, all girls camp, sleepaway camp (lol yeah right), science camp (all of these are too expensive), etc.

Now pick your week or weeks. Go over your budget. How many weeks can you afford to drop more than $200 just so you don't have to stare at your kids all day long (working parents, obvi this doesn't apply. And, honestly, camp seems to be cheaper than babysitters for the most part. Actually, maybe not, we do half day. Probably the same or higher. I don't know, I don't know. Too much math and budget for me. Good luck, working parents. I know you already have this shit figured out, anyway).

I think we can manage three weeks this year, which is two weeks more than last year (yay freelance writing!)

I'll sign my kids up for two weeks of Capoeira Camp and a week of Gymnastics Camp. But the Capoeira is in two-week sessions. I should probably do the session right after school ends. Otherwise we creep up on July 4th and what if we want to go somewhere?

And then gymnastics camp is in late July. So what are we going to do for August? Well, we are going to Connecticut to visit my mom (I think) but that's the last week before school starts. Should I make it two weeks? It doesn't really add to our expenses to make it longer. But what about my husband? He can only take one week off from work, and the girls and I went to Connecticut last year without him and it sucked.

Gah. Summer. All these thoughts floating around. Nothing pinned down. Dollar signs, and calendars and catchphrases caught in my head leading nowhere. Signing up for summer. It's hard.

Worth it, though. I cannot recommend getting your kids into at least a week or two of camp per summer. Go get 'em.






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