Now that Memorial Day has passed, summer is so close I can taste it. Honestly, I think I’m more excited about no more homework and no more school than my kids are. And though I cherish those lazy days sitting by the pool or hanging at the beach, they can’t all be like that.
I mean, I still have to work and get stuff done, which means that I need something for my kids to do when I’m not available to chauffeur them around and entertain them. And since I’m not going to let them sit home all day and play on the Wii, camp is an absolute must.
My daughter, as I’ve written about many times before, takes off for sleepaway camp for the summer, and thank God she does, because I don’t know what she would do around here. But my son…oh, my son.
Most boys, it seems, go one of two ways in the summer. Sports camp, or some type of computer or science camp. Just about every single one of his friends from school will spend some portion of the summer at UCLA basketball camp, or at tennis or golf camp, or at a Little League baseball camp. But despite the fact that all of his friends are going, there is NO WAY IN HELL that I could convince him to do that, even for just one week. The idea of playing a single sport all day long for five days straight evokes a visceral, negative response from him not unlike how a mental patient might behave when told that she’s got to back in for electric shock therapy. So, you know, that’s out.
Then there’s computer camp or science camp. My son has done a bunch of these the last few years. Last summer, he spent a week at a camp learning how to make stop-motion animation videos with Legos. The kids who’d spent all summer there were overweight and pale and had a cast to their skin that I’ll attribute to sitting inside all day under fluorescent lights. The counselors made jokes that weren’t funny and couldn’t make eye contact with me. My son declared it okay but kind of boring. I can’t say I was sad that he didn’t want to go back.
Two summers ago, he went to a science camp where he was supposed to learn how to make a “robot.” My son had big dreams of creating something akin to C-3PO that could engage in conversation and pick his clothes up off the floor. So when it turned out that the “robot” was really just a D battery placed inside an empty coke can on wheels, he was just a little underwhelmed.
But the other piece of the camp puzzle for my son is finding a friend to go with him to wherever he ends up going. Which has gotten harder and harder to do, since he doesn’t like the camps that most kids want to attend. He went to a really great beach camp last summer for a few weeks and hated it. He’s been to a much beloved local day camp and hated it. Lots of his friends are going back to these places. My son refuses. I’m torn, because I want him to have a fun summer and not feel like he’s being forced to go to camps that he hates. But on the other hand, it seems like he hates everything. If it were up to him, I’m convinced that he would choose to hang out at home all day doing nothing and complaining that he’s bored.
So this summer, I’m giving it one last try. I’ve found a couple of boys with similar sensibilities who are willing to tag along with him, and I’m taking a more middle-ground approach. He’ll go to camp at his school for a few weeks, where he’ll play fun PE games and also take some type of Hogwarts class that he really wants to do, even though he knows nothing about Harry Potter. But at the very least, maybe it’ll inspire it him to want to read the books instead of playing Minecraft all summer. And then he’s trying another day camp, where swimming is optional, they don’t make you play football, and if you don’t like the game they’re playing, you can opt out and do something else.
It sounds like it’s right up his alley, and I hope it works out. Because we’ve pretty much exhausted all of our options. If he’s not happy this summer, then next year I might just have to ship him off with his sister.