Note To Self…Wear More Blush To Birthday Parties

There’s a certain pattern to conversation topics that make their way around the birthday-party circuit. 
Right about this time of year, the popular subject is “What’s little Bobby going to be doing this Summer?”
The first time I was asked this question as it pertained to my 2 children, a sudden pang of panic overcame me and I felt the color in my face start to drain (note to self…wear more blush to birthday parties)…I suddenly bolted towards the birthday cake and started offering my assistance with slice distribution…anything to remove myself from the conversation.
Why the worry?
While Summer is supposed to be a carefree few months of warm weather, sunshine, day-trips and the Ice-Cream Man….for working parents everywhere it becomes something akin to a giant connect-the-dots puzzle where the object remains the same as it is the other 9 months of the year-  To have your children safely cared for between the working hours.  Throw in the challenge of trying to make sure their Summer is full of fun and frolic AND doing it in a cost-effective manner, and you mine as well call the Army Corps of Engineers for help cause this is going to be a project.
Seriously…this process is enough for me to lobby Washington for a year-round school schedule and in my free-time, I just might.
So let’s discuss some of the options:
  • Traditional Summer Camps– Harkening back to the days of swinging vines over a lake, and arts and crafts in a wall-less “tent”, many Summer camps haven’t changed much since the days when you or I might have slapped on some sun block, hopped on the big yellow bus and headed for the Great Outdoors…and for good reason.  There’s an appeal that is as strong today as ever, to children spending their Summer days outside involved in a variety of activities (the key part of that word being “active”)- from swimming to sports to theatre to arts and crafts, traditional Summer camps offer it all
Very often, transportation and lunch are included with the cost of the camp
Your children may leave after, and return home before, the traditional work-day would start or end, thus requiring a plan for supplemental beginning/end of day care or a modification to your work schedule.
  • “Day Care Camps”–  Very often, the day cares where you send your children during the year, switch gears and morph into a “camp” from June-August.  While the hours that the camp is open are the same as the hours the day care is open, they swap out more organized or academic programs for a less stringent and  more relaxed group of activities.  Very often, they provide small pools for water-play and allow extra time for outdoor activities.
If your children already attend the daycare at which the “camp” will be held, then they are already comfortable with the staff and surroundings and there will be no adjustment period.
There’s often an additional fee of some sort associated with the “camp”
  • Overnight/Travel Camps– For those of us who are daring enough to send our kids out of town for the Summer, overnight  and travel camps offer a wide-range of programs and specialties making it easy to find a camp geared towards the interests of your particular child
Your child will experience what is very often their first taste of independence (please note, this could also very well fall under the “drawbacks” section)
The camps operate 24/7 thus eliminating any scheduling conflicts with work
Overnight/travel camps are typically the most expensive options for the Summer and also might include additional costs associated with transportation to and from the camp (i.e. plane fare)
As you embark down the path of “What’s Bobby going to do this Summer”…I wish you good luck and lots of patience.  Very often, it takes a million phone calls to get the answers to seemingly basic questions.
However, once you’ve found the right option for your children, you’ll take pride in hopefully seeing them bound off to camp with an enthusiasm unparalleled by any day at school/ day care….heck, you’ll probably find yourself trying to scheme your own way onto the big yellow school bus for a day in the woods making popsicle-stick figurines.


The Working Mom