Summer Camp: More than Just Seasonal Daycare for the Kids

By Zerline Hughes

Summer is my favorite time of the year. The Js, too!sumer camps

Reason one: I celebrate my birthday and both kids celebrate their half birthdays. Yeah, … I know, ridiculous, but we’re a celebrating family. And why not? There’s so much bad news out there, sad times, challenging barriers, why not take a second in the middle of your own personal year to celebrate. Reason two: camp and travel  time!

The boy has been out of school for two weeks already (yikes, right!) and the girl finally finished school last Friday. What this means: no more 6 am wake up calls. No more drama club until 4:30 or 5:30. No more rushing from downtown to upper northwest DC to Prince George’s County, Md., for karate classes that don’t end until 8 o’clock, making us get home at 8:30. No more late nights urging the boy to finish his homework. No more sighing at the girl for conveniently losing her homework and texting the teacher to figure out what the assignment of the day is at 8pm. NO MORE 15 HOUR DAYS!

But just because school is out, it doesn’t mean these kids get to flop around the house, raid the fridge hourly and do nothing. No, Not These Two.

I busted my hump in January and February to register them both for camps. I waited with baited fingertips at the computer when online camp registrations opened. I made a spreadsheet (and I HATE spreadsheets) to organize which camp each would attend, when, what weeks they had free to rest, and I moved around money (and credit – also known as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”) so this would happen. I also made sure to find some low-cost and free camps with the help of lotsa research and my support group of moms just like me.

So, Sunday, the girl began overnight Girl Scouts camp. Today, the boy began band camp with the Washington Performing Arts Society. Both are just a week long and then we have a road trip scheduled to further their summer education and experience. More on that trip later. Next week:  Commons Threads Camp, a hands-on camp that offers youth cooking classes, kitchen science labs, and physical activity. Common Threads is a national non-profit that provides healthy cooking classes to the students at our schookayakl.

More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities, according to the National Summer Learning Association.  A busy summer guarantees activity and healthy meals (less weight gain), and helps youth stay at the head of the class. NSLA reports that low-income students during the summer lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains. Not These Two.

And aside from education achievement and physical health, Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General found that summer programming, coupled with other intervention activities like family services, after-school programs, and mentoring, has been proven to help kids avoid the “gateway drug use, violent crime, and drug sales” up to one year after participation. So I guess we have many years and spreadsheets to go.

Also on tap for the summer: the second of three road trips — this time with their dad to North Carolina for a family reunion. After that, DC Parks and Recreation Outdoor Adventure Camp – so they can learn how to read a compass, kayak, hike through the woods and appreciate nature. This camp culminates with a week-long overnight camping excursion. The Js are ultra excited about it. Not my cup of tea … but maybe that’s because I never had the opportunity or expressed interest to do something like this as a kid.

Summer will come to a close with our annual Lake Michigan trip where we always try something new. Last year: paddle boarding in Kalamazoo River. This year … the possibilities are endless (as long as it fits into the budget).jtkayak

So, though the kids are on break, there will be no break in their education and exposure. I want these two to be resilient. I’m not allowing these two any downtime to get bored, lazy and fall into the wrong hands. Not These Two.

Happy camping!

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4 thoughts on “Summer Camp: More than Just Seasonal Daycare for the Kids

  1. Pingback: Hard-at-work Mom Takes No Breaks, Chances During Summer Vacation | Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

  2. Pingback: Hard-at-work Mom Takes No Breaks, Chances During Summer Vacation | Youth Today

  3. Pingback: Repost: Hard-at-work Mom Takes No Breaks, Chances During Summer Vacation | Not These Two

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