By Marnie Goldman
There comes a moment in most parents’ annual decision making routine that wracks their brain and either causes hours of distress or equal amounts of euphoria…what to do about camp this summer?!
In moments like this, it’s usually more moms who panic than dads. Mom’s over-think every detail down to: who will sit with my kid on the bus, who is driving said bus and who is responsible for slathering my kid in the highest SPF known to mankind?!
For the more experienced parents, camp applications are already being filled out and checks mailed in late January. That leaves weeks of agonizing and 20-questioning for the newbies or those who just can’t make up their minds.
For clarity sake, I have been sending my child to Noah’s Ark for the past two summers. This years’ dilemma is that many of her friends who attend different schools are going to other camps. Then the bigger issue is there are so many programs available to my child and they all have their pluses and minuses. The struggle is real people!
For each child, there are checklists of activities they seem to like or dislike, there is very little disparity for kids especially at a young age. Check for swimming, outdoors play and music; uncheck for putting on clean clothes, sharing and cleaning up.
What makes the decision harder is committing to 4, 6 or 8 weeks of allocating where your child will spend their carefree summer days and which camp will have the best influence on your child. At the end of the day, the goal is always that they come home sunburn-free with a big smile on their face saying what an awesome day they’ve had!
If only it were that easy.
It came down to a truth for me, where will I be happy and where will I feel the most secure and confident my child will be happy. Back and forth I went on which kids were going to which camps and what schedules seemed the most beneficial for my daughter’s interests and well being. What activities are offered that she will love, where will she perfect her “mermaid” swim and selfishly, how long will I have to be away from her?
Two key words: Let Go! I have come to learn from my parenting peers as well as my own mom and dad, that when it comes to raising a well-rounded individual, it is important to let go. If given the opportunity, children should be exposed to as many new and challenging, enriching and engaging experiences as possible. Outside of the school year, children need to learn their independence, learn how to be kind, how to form friendships and above all else, to try new things. That is what camp season is all about. It’s a time for kids to enjoy just being a kid and picking up a few new skills along the way.
For me, in the end, I chose Noah’s Ark again because of the swimming program, the amazing splash pad area, the playgrounds, the sports, the arts and crafts, the exposure to nature, and above all, the staff. It always comes down to the people who surround my child and expose her to a wealth of fun opportunities on a daily basis. I have years of agonizing parenting decisions ahead of me and I feel confident that with each passing day, I learn how to handle them better because of the people I surround myself with in life and at the JCC.