Marblehead Patch columnist Brenda Kelley Kim talks about Boy Scouts, ballet and beauty camp.
“A lot of parents pack up their troubles and send them off to summer camp.” - Raymond Duncan
While children love this time of year because it brings the last days of school, no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks, it also brings something for parents. The camp bus. With my oldest, the first day I packed him off on the school bus for kindergarten, I was a weeping mess. At the end of that year, I signed him up for summer camp and it was a whole different story. It’s possible that I walked back from the first day of camp drop off singing “Ding, dong, Andy’s gone!” Yes, I was that mother, happily turning over my first born to days filled with gimp, archery and wildlife.
But camp has changed even in the short time since I sent my oldest. Specialty camps are the norm now. No matter what interests your child might have there is probably a camp that caters to it. They have computer camp, engineering camp, space camp and even video game camp. I might have been running one and not even have known it. Every summer at my house there are always a few rainy days that bring a gang of snack hungry X-Box fans to my living room. Not for nothing, a whole summer of an actual video game camp probably sends a few of those youngsters to fat camp (or as it's called now fitness camp) the following year.
Summer camp is no longer about pitching a tent, or canoeing on the lake or making a bonfire. The hot happening camps offer way more than just nature. What if your daughter isn’t really into the whole outdoor thing? Well then, there is beauty camp. I kid you not; there are more than a few camps that provide daily workshops in skin care, hair styling and make up application. Because every ten year old needs to know what shade of lipstick works best with the pastel colors of most summer wardrobes.
Taking the beauty concept up a notch, there is pageant boot camp. Yeah, I wish I was making that up, but it’s real. Somehow I picture a lakeside setting, with a catwalk set up in the midst of grove of pine trees. Campers take turns walking the length of it, turning at just the right moment to smile and wave and toss their hair. At some point one girl will miss a part of the routine and a counselor will blow a pink sparkly whistle and screech “Drop and give me twenty scissor kicks recruit! Do you think you can bring home the Supreme Queen Gold Under 12 trophy with moves like that? On the double!”
Even computer camp isn’t just about learning to surf the Web anymore. There is a program in Las Vegas where kids learn how to be “white hat hackers”. Because Vegas is exactly where you want a bunch of twelve year olds in July. The camp is an offshoot of a well-known adult hacker conference. The website touts the program as a way parents can share their interest in technology with their children. Right, because kids get bored waiting around for their cyber-criminal parents and this program keeps them off the Strip and out of the casinos.
I am all about doing things in a non-traditional way, but I will be sticking with the run of the mill local options for camp this summer. My son will go with the Boy Scout troop in town to spend five days in the woods. He will pitch a tent, paddle a canoe and sit around a campfire. There will be no cell phones, no television and no iPods. My daughter will be at the ballet school downtown learning dance history, French and barre routines. A field trip to a ballet summer theater in the woods of western Massachusetts will be the wilderness part of her summer.
Hopefully these very ordinary experiences won’t leave my children behind their peers when school is back in session and everyone is talking about what they did on their summer vacation. My son won’t know how to break into the school’s grading system and launch a Trojan horse virus. My daughter will not have a crown and a sash to remember her summer at Little Miss Vanity Camp. But I will have a couple of weeks of relative peace and quiet while they go commune with nature. I will make sure to use this time wisely, communing with my sun lounger and the sand at Preston Beach. I am all about keeping it local this year. Happy summer!