In Which the Kids Go to Summer Camp, Whether They Like It or Not
Choosing a camp requires the art of persuasion.
School is out next week. Have you signed your kids up for summer camp? Of course you have. Because in your house, the discussion goes something like this:
Mom: I signed you up for summer camp.
Little Johnny: Great! Thanks, Mom!
Or maybe it goes like this:
Mom: Would you like to go back to Land of Oz for summer camp this year?
Little Katie: Sure, Mom! I had so much fun. I’ll call Angela and tell her I’m going so she’ll go back, too.
Or, maybe it’s like this?
Mom: What do you think about doing three weeks at Da Vinci Art Camp and then two weeks of the Magical Mystery Tour?
Little Sean: Awesome!
Wait—it’s not like that in your house? So maybe it’s more like the camp discussion that goes on in my house…
Me: It’s time to sign up for camp. Want to go back to the same place as last year? You had such a good time making exploding toilets out of Styrofoam packing materials.
Boy A: No way! It was hot and I got attacked by mosquitoes and the ball hit me in the crotch during dodgeball and we never got to go outside except to wait for the bus where we stood in direct sunlight for an hour and they wouldn’t give us water and on ice cream day I only got one scoop even though everyone else got four scoops, a waffle cone, sprinkles and an entire chocolate cake.
Me: Okay, I’ll put you down for three weeks at the Gulag instead of six.
Me, to Boy B: I signed you up for overnight camp like you wanted, but that’s only two weeks. So, let’s find a couple of other activities…
Boy B: No way! I’m not going to any other camp. I only have one free week the whole summer and then school starts again! I’m going to stay home and do nothing.
Me: Hmm. Let’s see, two weeks of overnight camp, plus one week of family vacation in August… That adds up to seven free weeks of summer for you.
Boy B: See what I mean??
Me: Maybe this Theory of Relativity camp would be good…
Boy B: I’m going to stay home and do nothing! I’m going to the pool.
Me: How will you get to the pool? Your magic carpet? And there won’t be anyone there. All the other kids will be at camp.
Boy A: Why does HE get to stay home and go to the pool? I want to stay home and go to the pool!
Me: No one is staying home. No one is going to the pool. Don’t you know we have the special “light use” pool membership? Meaning, we pay the same as everyone else, but we only go Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends? There must be something you want to do. Rock climbing? Horseback riding? Clean the bathroom…?
Boy B: You can take me to the pool. Just don’t talk to me while we’re there. You can drop me off!
Me (seeing my summer plan of intense fiction-writing sinking fast): I will have to get a sitter.
Both boys stare at me in silent horror. Score! Finally, one speaks.
Boy B: You’re just saying that to get us to go to camp.
Me: …Do you feel lucky?
It’s a good thing they don’t know how I spent my summers at their age. No, I never went to camp, and, yes, I hung out by the pool all summer. But that, as we say when we have 52 columns to write in a year, is another story…