Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DCMM: Camp Here and Now

When I looked at my summer and saw weeks and weeks of empty squares on the calendar, I panicked. Then I calmed down and told myself it wouldn't be that bad. Then I had all three kids home for a day and it was an unmitigated disaster. So I panicked again. Then I came up with a plan.

The plan is to create "camp" at home for my three kids all by myself. The idea first took root one afternoon when a friend and neighbor sent me a semi-joking email about "Camp Here and Now" that would be made up of her kids and mine and would take place in our driveways. I thought it was an excellent idea and have followed it to its extreme, Jean-style conclusion.

I've chosen a theme for each week, starting with "Cooking Camp" this week and ending with "The Olympics" at the end of August.

This isn't just to fill up days. My children do better in a structured environment. If left without a plan they get antsy and argumentative. I don't need that. And I certainly can't afford to send three kids to day camp all summer. We do need to eat. And buy gas.

But that's not the only reason. After much hemming and hawing and a lot of freaking out and questioning myself, the system, and the answer to life, the universe, and everything, I finally decided to send my autistic son, Jack, to kindergarten next year. And he needs some work before he walks into that classroom in late August.

He needs to learn to sit in circle time. (It worked today). He needs to learn to follow directions. (It didn't work today.) He needs to learn that if a teacher tells him to do a project, he needs to do it. (Again, success!)

My hope is that with eight weeks of pseudo-camp under his belt, he might be a little better prepared than if he walked in having aimlessly played all summer.

I also think my kids (and I) will have more fun at Camp Here and Now than they would have if I just let summer pass us by. With theme weeks such as Mini Golf/Bowling Camp, Science & Nature Camp, Sports Camp, and Boot Camp (Oh, I'm going to enjoy playing sergeant that week!), how can I go wrong?

We're going to go on field trips to the zoo, to a minor league baseball game, to nature centers, to golf courses, and so much more. We're going to make macaroni necklaces and have bowling tournaments at our house. We're going to invite friends over for afternoon recess in our wading pool.

So thanks to my friend who gave me the idea (and who will be granted charter membership), and welcome to any campers in the area who want to join us. Camp Here and Now is always looking for camp counselors too. The more the merrier. And I promise not to charge you so much tuition that you can't afford to buy food.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Find out how Cooking Camp, Day One and the rest of Camp Here and Now goes at Stimeyland.

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