Summer: The Home Stretch

Summer: The Home Stretch

The comedown from a week away at summer camp took its toll on the kid — and us as well.
The comedown from a week away at summer camp took its toll on the kid — and us as well.

For us, this summer will go down as one of the hardest. Much to the chagrin of both father and daughter, we spent several weeks with no camp scheduled. Last week we all did enjoy a week with the girl at Girl Scout Camp way out in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, but before that, she had one week in Vermont with relatives, and a smattering of day camps.

Thanks to increasing parental paranoia, two-career households, and the rise of the Summer Camp Industrial Complex, kids just don’t randomly play anymore. At one time, a kid could just wander down to the playground and inevitably find one or two friends and before they knew it, they heard Mom calling them in for dinner. While the same age as my daughter, I spent whole summers like that. As a result, I hated camp.

Thanks to the tyranny programmed play and the lure of technology, if the kid isn’t playing a computer game, she has absolutely no clue what to do with herself. The tech by itself doesn’t necessarily bother me, but she only wants to play games or watch father-bashing Disney videos on Netflix. If she told me she wanted to create a movie, learn coding, or start a podcast, she’d have Carte Blanche to the computer.

The last month of summer promises a strong finish, however. We have a week planned in the Catskills on a quiet lake where we have banned screens, and the child’s other cousins have offered to bring her along for their vacation at Busch Gardens and Hilton head. Then school begins.

I don’t know how my daughter will look back on this particular summer, but a child’s memory has a nice way of filtering out moments of boredom, retaining the happy parts. I remember the woods, the trips to the beach, the sandlot games, and the random acts of mischief. I don’t remember boredom, though I don’t doubt we had some moments of it.

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