We Didn’t Enroll Our Youngsters in Camp This Summer time. Did We Make a Mistake?
I completely and completely reject it. In two weeks school will be over for the summer. And we have no plans for our children for the summer of 2021.
By no plans I mean the following: No summer camps. No part-time, no full-time. No sleeping possibility. No virtual online tuition. No online sessions on playing chess, drawing unicorns, making simple cake pops, playing guitar for beginners, or doing fun scratch coding projects. Not even a zoom link to click.
It seems that I am the only parent I know who completely and completely denies.
“My children will be going to Sleepaway Camp from the end of June.”
“I just signed up my son for sailing lessons in Lower Manhattan.”
“I put my kids in two weeks full-time camp before we go on vacation.”
“My daughter is taking virtual piano lessons and she is really amazing! We will be increasing your lessons from June onwards. “
“My parents will stay with us all summer – thank God!”
When did I miss the note on the race for the summer 2021 children’s activities that are starting again? When should we register for summer camps? Do other parents feel uncomfortable sending their children to camps without vaccines?
I feel like a beginner parent again. I come back to my first time making summer plans for the kids when I started looking for camps in May and nothing was available. It was a total mom fail moment.
Here is what I have prepared for the coming summer: a torn Amazon box as a farewell gift from summer 2020, filled with the following: a torn jump rope, small pieces of broken street chalk, an empty bubble container and a bent bubble stick, half-used children’s sunscreen, broken Paw Patrol sunglasses and sun hats that no longer fit.
Not to mention the swimsuits seem to have suddenly shrunk (they were too big for my daughter last year). Did we need summer socks or could they go without them? No water shoes and only a pink crocodile (the one for the left foot was in the bin). Did we need new sunscreen or could we use the leftovers from last summer? My son doesn’t fit tops or shorts. However, my daughter will wear them unless I find some great deals in the right sizes for her on my Target app.
School is almost over for the summer. I should be scared. Very scared. And yet I feel completely numb, indifferent and absolutely ambivalent.
The adrenaline rush of fear I felt last summer of having the kids at home alone, isolated and quarantined with no social interaction and outdoor activities is gone. I should now prepare for my second failed attempt as a summer camp counselor, planning how to employ them while I work to keep my job and try to make a difference at work. I should have ordered loads of street chalk, cans of spray-on sunscreen, and swimsuits that actually fit. I would have run out of ink by now downloading and printing seemingly endless random activity sheets. I would get 10 emails from Michael alerting me that I had five boxes of things I wouldn’t have room for in five days.
But after 14 months of this pandemic, I’m just too exhausted and give up. I give up. I throw my hands in the air. I wave this imaginary little white flag. I turn to summer 2021.
The children can experience this one last pandemic summer full of chaos, lack of discipline, without schedules and routines. Without brushing their teeth, they can walk around in their pajamas until noon. You can have fruit snacks and chocolate chips at 7am (our snack cabinet magnetic lock is no longer and I’m done hiding snacks in my bedroom closet). They can still switch between their iPads, Disney +, and then back to Netflix. You can have Cheez-Its for lunch and cereal for dinner, with milk only if there is something left in the fridge. You will not be taking any of the suggested school summer lessons. They’ll go back to school eight weeks later and unlearn everything, just like they did for most of this pandemic.
Congratulations to my children who have now been appointed their own summer camp counselors. Be warned the hours are long, it’s an unpaid position, and did I forget to mention we’re out of glue sticks? Ask dad, not mom, to order some more milk. I’m on another Zoom call and I prefer not to remain silent all the time while you whine and tell me that you are bored.
Perhaps this final summer of the pandemic is a good reminder of how wonderful it is to have life completely unplanned. And I’m getting on well with that at the moment.
Mita Mallick is Head of Inclusion, Equity and Impact at Carta and loves living in Jersey City with her husband and two young children.