Like a lot of moms, by the end of the school year, I was getting a little impatient. I was tired of trying to pass off raisins as “nature’s candy” every time I stuffed them into my daughter’s lunch bag, much to her chagrin. I was bored of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was fed up with the letters X, Y, and Z, who had the audacity to arrive late to the alphabet party, expecting to be admired like their predecessors who had shown up when I still had energy to fuss over them. I was ready for summer.
That said, once camp arrived, I remembered everything that slowly wore on my patience last summer. For the record, here is a completely objective, factually accurate list of the pros and cons of summer camp.
Pro: No packing a lunch. Yes, it’s a mindless activity that only takes five minutes every morning — or would only take five minutes, if I weren’t constantly interrupted by pleas of “Mommy, I need more yogurt!” and “Da da da da da!” (The little one is still learning how to properly goad Mommy.) But when you perform the same monotonous task every single morning, over the course of months, you begin to feel like you’re trapped in Groundhog Day, reliving the same turkey and cheese sandwich, which may or may not be covertly plotting your demise from its tin-foil packaging. It’s a slippery slope from sliced deli meat to involuntary institutionalization.
Con: Child arrives home from camp hungry every day. And not just hungry, but “I’ve been running through a sprinkler and bouncing on a trampoline for three straight hours” hungry. There’s nothing like a full morning of camp to transform your nice, civilized kitchen into an episode of Survivor.
Pro: Your kid can wear a bathing suit every day! That means less laundry, right?
Con: Wrong. Unless your kid has a secret career as a swimsuit model, there’s no way she has enough bathing suits to get through the week (or even the first couple of days). You can look forward to hand-washing wet and/or paint-covered bathing suits pretty much every night (and don’t even get me started on the towels…)
Pro: Many camps (like my daughter’s) are only half-day — lots of extra time with the kids!
Con: Many camps (like my daughter’s) are only half-day — lots of extra time with the kids. I’m wondering how often Mommy can pass off going to the bank as an “outing.”
Ultimately, the school-versus-camp debate is a draw. The real “pro” is how much my daughter loves making new friends, racing down waterslides, and, best of all (to her, at least), taking a well-deserved break from the school bus. But like all things, even the novelty of camp eventually wears thin. Come August, she’ll be tired of swimming pools and ice pops, and begin looking forward to raisins and construction-paper ABCs. And Mommy, who once lamented these (excessively) short camp days, will begin to dread the arrival of that big, yellow bus, come to take “baby” away. Because, no matter how long these summer days get, I know I’m blessed to spend them with my favorite little camper — paint-covered bathing suits and all.