Let's just say my mom wasn't pouring over the internet for "Summer Boredom Busters." Mostly because there was no internet, but also because if you even hinted at being bored you'd be saddled with a list of chores that would make Cinderella blanch. There were no guided craft projects or pre-arranged play dates. And certainly no camps. Educational or otherwise.
Ours was a world of spontaneity, creativity, imagination, and occasional deep boredom. We spent many an hour on our banana-seat bikes impressing mostly ourselves with our jumps and tricks. ("Look, no hands!") Our boundary was from the stop sign at one end of the lane to the barrier that designated to all but the most drunk or stupid that it was a dead end.
We ruthlessly guarded our turf from outsiders -- aka old people who were lost and accidentally turned on our lane. And by ruthlessly, I mean, we'd graciously pull our bikes to the side and help them with directions.
We might spend the day in our steamy kitchen canning green beans, beets, apples, pears and jams. Pretty much anything that could be squished into a Mason jar was fair game. When we ran out of "convenient" things to preserve, my mom would drive us deep into the mountain where we'd painstakingly fill our crafty homemade coffee can/belt, hands-free "bucket" with blackberries. The first rule of blackberry picking was that if you saw a snake, you needed to redirect it while shouting a loud warning to my mom so that she could get an "I've never seen Mom run so fast" head start to the car. The second rule was get more blackberries in the bucket than in your mouth.
My kids are past the "need to be supervised to ensure the house isn't burned down" phase. But their earlier summers were anything but spontaneous. We were told on good authority that we couldn't just leave them to fend for themselves (aka "Lord of the Flies") while my husband and I were at work. Creativity? All mine, as I frantically searched the internet, local family magazines, and newspaper lists to find the perfect pieces to my puzzle of summer care.
"Carefree" summers were meticulously laid out on a spreadsheet detailing every camp, vacation, special event, and grandparent availability. Each kid had their personalized column full of camp dates, locations, prices, and drop-off and pick up times. These spreadsheets were the equivalent of our war plan and handed out ceremoniously to the village tasked with helping us raise our children. We single-handedly drove up stock prices for refrigerator magnets.
One year, during "camp planning season," one of our daughters dared ask, with a bit of a whine, about the camp schedule. I told her that I was signing her up for "Coal Mining Camp." She'd be flying out to West Virginia where she'd spend 10 hours a day working in the coal mines and the rest of the time living with a local family of strangers. When I finally told her it wasn't real, she was actually disappointed. Because volleyball? Boring. Black lung? Woot!
1) Build Your Own Website
2) Jr. Biotech
3) 3D Animation with Autodesk 3DS Max
4) Lego Robotics
5) Pre-Med for Kids
6) Exploring Shakespeare
7) Farm to Table
If you guessed that they're ALL real, then you guessed right. At the "Excel" camp where your kids are apparently on the fast track to an Ivy League scholarship, your aspiring 5th grader can learn "How to Run a Successful Business" in the morning session, and be singing about the sun coming out tomorrow in "Annie: The Mini Musical" afternoon class.
I was always a little jealous that my kids were lucky enough to spend their summers at all these cool camps. So, I'm proposing summer camps for adults. I'm ready to spend a week playing volleyball, learning all the best wizard spells, or trying my hand at building a robot out of Legos. Add some wine, and I think I've got a winning business plan. You in?