You know that phenomenon where you learn a word and then start to see and hear it everywhere you go?
This summer, that word has been "camp", or specifically, "day camp". While I, of course, know what this term means, now that I have a six-year old, camps seem to be everywhere I turn.
Has it always been this way or is this a new trend? In our area, there are general camps, as well as, specialized camps. If you have a soccer, dance, gymnastics, art, music or nature lover, there is a camp that fits. There is even a sort of church camp called “Vacation Bible School” which sounds about as fun as a root canal but is supposed to be fun for the kids.
I have also learned that your kids can go to camp while on vacation. I had always thought that “vacation” was synonymous with “‘fill up on family togetherness, even if you are ready to kill each other by week’s end”. So, I was a bit skeptical about how “camp” and “vacation” could co-mingle successfully. Nevertheless, I booked a week’s vacation at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont which features camps for kids as young as three up to the age of 17.
Smuggler’s Notch bills itself as “America’s Family Resort”. In many of the brochures, families are seen happily romping around the pools or walking the trails. In reality, between the house of 10 and 4, most school-aged kids are in camp. I do not what percentage of Smuggs’ kids attend camp, but you only need to look around when camp is in session to realize that the majority of kids are not with their parents.
How did my kids like this arrangement? My oldest daughter, who is six, LOVED camp. She made a “best friend” (her words), hugged her counselors, participated in every activity, and had to be convinced to take a few days off for “family time” (she attended camp four days of seven).
My four-year-old enjoyed camp too, but the day was pretty long for her. If her big sister wasn’t so enamored of camp, I’m not sure she would’ve even attended; she went for only three days out of seven.
Our son, who is only two, was too young for camp, although the resort also has a fully staffed daycare for the youngest kids. However, seeing as he doesn’t attend daycare at home, I wasn’t about to try it on vacation.
I am not without feelings of guilt about this whole camp thing, though. I subscribe to the “vacation is about family togetherness” motto, and so I felt a little “pang” each time I dropped off a daughter. Was I being selfish?
And then we returned home from Vermont, and I felt something new. I felt relaxed.
For once, I had also had a vacation.