Happy Campers



    Summer is in full swing, so for many families, the kids are off to camp. But I keep hearing stories about desperate parents whose kids don’t want to go to the $300/week camp their parents secured for them back in January. Rather than waving goodbye to skipping, smiling campers, these parents are trying to drop off screaming, crying kids who refuse to get out of the car.

    For many families, both parents work full time, and there is no other option but to force them out of the car and hope for the best. But some families choose to enroll their kids in camp because it will be “fun” and never considered their kids would stage a coup and refuse to go. Either way, the resulting parental self-doubt and guilt is awful.

    For kicks, Google “should I make my kid go to summer camp.” There are plenty of arguments for both sides but unfortunately, no real answers. Every kid is different, and we, as parents, are often influenced by our own experiences. Some write about hating camp as a child so they wouldn’t dream of exposing their kids to the same torture of mandatory activities and the stress of making new friends. Others think camp builds resilience, creates lifelong friendships, and fosters independence.

    I went to YMCA camp every day of every summer of my childhood, and it was never a choice. For three months, my brother and I watched kids come and go as we repeated the same menu of outings and activities every two weeks. I’m sure we complained incessantly to our parents. As a result, my kids have attended camps, but I’ve never forced it on them. But, I’ve always worked from home and that’s a luxury I have.

    The bottom line is that no matter if your kids love or hate their camp, they will get through it. (And seriously, for these prices, how bad can it be?) Anyway, in the end, the future is already scripted. If you make them go to camp, they will never send their own kids. And if you don’t, they will talk about how deprived they were as children and send their kids off to every camp they can find. It’s our basic fate as parents. What do you think?

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    Within months of graduating from Cal, Erin met her husband Rick and for the last 14 years has been raising a family in San Francisco. Their two sons love the city as much as they do and are proud to call themselves natives. Erin works as a freelance writer and editor but also enjoys the freedom that comes with blogging. She was the SF Frugal Family contributor for Examiner.com a few years back, and if you are looking for creative ideas for getting out around town, you can still find her work at http://www.examiner.com/frugal-family-in-san-francisco/erin-darwin. In her free time, Erin loves to read, cheer on the Giants, try new restaurants and practice yoga.


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