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Oh, The Things You Can Do

With Bay Weekly’s Last-Minute Camp Guide

What to do with the kids this summer takes on new urgency as summer advances from someday to next month. So for parents, Bay Weekly’s Last-Minute Camp Guide offers solutions.
    Giving them direction is an important goal, but it’s by no means the only goal of this issue. There’s value here for each of us.
    For kids, their parents’ choice is much more than childcare. Camp is often our children’s maiden voyage into a wider world. As you’ll remember from your reading of children’s books, the adventure starts when parents are absent.
    Camps nowadays are many and varied, as you’ll see in this guide, but they all follow the no-parents rule — and in a different way than school. Teachers in most schools are legally bound in loco parentis. Camp counselors also have responsibilities of care and guidance, but they’re supposed to be buddies, too, and bring on the fun. So kids get to know almost-grown-ups in a new way. At the same time, they’re exploring new environments and developing new powers for navigating, for example, the latest highlight of outdoor camps, zip lines.
    You don’t snap on a harness and zoom through thin air in school. In camp you do, discovering new muscles, skills and dimensions to your personality. So the choices parents make for their kids’ summer camps are about more than a few days or weeks; they’re about lifetimes. This guide opens the door to hundreds of choices for parents and as many directions for kids as a tree has branches.
    For no-longer kids, this guide is fantasy camp, ­reviving memories of adventures you’ve had and opening adventures that can be yours in mind as well, perhaps, as in body.
    Read in another way, the Camp Guide makes a great short course in American Studies. Back-to-nature camps are but one variety, nowadays called traditional, of the diverse species of modern camps. Many others are skill-building camps that can be as intense as baseball’s spring training. Specialty camps range from sports, arts and crafts, drama and dance to science. Many get very specific. At Camp Hidden Meadows, for example, kids delve into GoPro Video production, culinary and performing arts, organic gardening and yoga.
    Adults can daydream of camp adventures. But kids don’t go to camp to wander Huck Finn-style in chance and imagination. We send our camp-bound kids to structured experiences designed to improve them.
    If you, like me, have been provoked by The Big Read to rediscover Tom Sawyer, you too may be feeling his envy of Huckleberry as a boy who “came and went, at his own free will.”
    That “romantic outcast … slept on doorsteps in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet; we did not have to go to school or to church, or call any being master or obey anybody; he could go fishing or swimming when and where he chose, and stay as long as it suited him. … In a word, everything that goes to make life precious, that boy had.”
    So send your kid to camp. But leave a little free time for the kids — and yourself as well.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com