Wednesday 18 October 2017

Yes, they are a great idea . . . for parents

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Fiona Ness

Summer camps seem like a great idea. Here's why.

* They offer a great childcare solution for working parents who cannot take months out of their jobs every year to look after their own children. Note that by the time you have factored in the cost of camps multiplied by three children multiplied by six weeks, you could have paid for a Norland nanny three times over. And you'll need to employ Norland to drop them down at 9.30am and collect them at 1pm.

* For the comfortably off, stay-at-home parents, camps offer great respite from the kids - although this begs the question why you had them in the first place.

* For tiger parents, camps offer the competitive edge for little James and Emily who have been enrolled in Mandarin, advanced astrophysics, expressive dance and a start-your-own-food-trend-on-Instagram.

* Camps keep a child active in the way, presumably, that sending them outside with a set of skipping ropes couldn't - unless it rains and you find your child spent the week at camp inside watching a DVD.

* Camps reduce the amount of screen time a child has - unless they happen to be enrolled in CoderDojo camp.

* Camps are a social outlet - now that children are no longer allowed out to play on the streets and find their own friends. However, for a reticent child, they will feel as if they have entered the third circle of hell.

* Camps can teach children new skills and give them a boost academically - despite the fact that this is exactly what the school holidays were designed to avoid.

* Okay so camps might - whisper it - also be fun. But then, isn't the point of summer holidays to create just the amount of boredom so that kids decide that school isn't so bad after all, and are happy to go back?

* Only the Gaeltacht summer camp sounds truly miserable enough to play an essential, character-forming role in your child's upbringing.

You might say I'm not a fan of the summer camps industry, and the fear of missing out it instils in parents and kids who don't follow the pack. But then, I never went to camp myself.

My mother was a teacher who was always home during the holidays. She'd send us out every morning and tell us not to come back until lunch.

Time was elastic; the unregulated summer holiday world was exciting and immense.

Today, study after study tells us that children are happiest when they are outside playing with other children. Yes, even in the rain. This isn't adult-regulated, orchestrated, camp-organised play, it's just sheer, unadulterated child's play.

Yes, summer camps are a great idea; for the adults. But I'm a little sad that they've come to represent what a childhood summer is for our children.

Irish Independent

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