Happy Camper

July 14, 2010

Before we get to today’s guest blogger post: According to the Wall Street Journal, guacamole and salsa are responsible for 1 in 25 restaurant-based outbreaks of food poisoning. Which means my kids and I are going down one of these days…

Anyway, Bret joins us with his outlook on sending his boys off to camp for the summer. It should be noted he is dead serious about not being around anyone’s children while they’re away — we only communicate by smoke signals in the summer lest he get too close to my offspring…

I was thinking about my kids being at sleep-away camp when I read the recent New York Magazine cover story, “I love my children.  I hate my life.”  The author recounts studies supposedly showing that those with children are generally less happy than those without children.  As my friends know, I love my two sons.  And as my friends know, I love when my children go to sleep-away camp for 7 weeks.  So is New York Magazine right?

For most of the year, I get incredible enjoyment from seeing my two amazing, smart, creative, sweet and curious sons grow and develop into the men they will become.  We laugh and play and learn together as a family, and it’s awesome.  But as they get older, they need to sever their ties to their parents (hopefully not completely) and establish a little independence.  And my wife and I need a break from the routine and time to reconnect to each other without the daily logistical headaches of coordinating schedules, making sure homework gets done and shuttling the kids to activities.  For the past two summers, I’ve counted the weeks and days until the start of camp – half of my friends with kids are appalled and the other half are doing their own countdown.

Once my boys leave, for 7 weeks we militantly refuse to spend time with families who have children who are around.  But of course, we do miss our guys.  Each day we scour the camp web site seeking photos of them, trying to decipher each facial expression to make sure they are having fun.  We rifle through the mail to see if a letter has arrived, interpreting each word and wondering why the bunk is “good” and not “great.”  Each of our two permitted phone calls is a tiny 10-minute window into their worlds.  Visiting day lets us see first-hand how much they enjoy tennis, water-skiing, soccer and all the camaraderie of their friends.  And finally, I get to go up to camp at the end of the summer for father-son weekend, a 48-hour exhausting marathon of fun where we actually experience camp first-hand (including the authentic feel of a twin cot and a bunk with no air-conditioning).

So, is New York Magazine right?  While it’s true that the stress of raising kids can take its toll, it’s worth every second.  Well, almost every second.  I guess I would say, “I love my children.  I love their camp.”

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One Response to “Happy Camper”

  1. Liz Says:

    Living in Australia with three kids has led me to do a lot of thinking about my summers as a child at camp. Here, they only have a 6 week summer holiday.

    Also, there are 4 terms in the school year, each with at least a two week break. By the end of the second week, the entire family is going crazy.

    I don’t know what I will do for this summer’s 6 week break as there is no tradition of day camp here or overnight camp. I am a bit panicked.

    Having gone to overnight camp as a child for many years – I have fond and cherished memories – campfires, log cabins, sailing, camp songs, etc. It was truly great for me.

    Especially in today’s day and age with our kids constantly being bombarded by electronics, it is important for them to get away from it all.

    As an adult, I now realize how great camp was for my parents as well – never dawned on me when I was a kid.


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