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Camp every day! Camp all year round!

This is my seven-year-old’s mantra this summer: Camp every day! Camp all year round!

That girl is just so darn happy. And no wonder: In school, you have to conform. Camp is about expressing yourself. In school, they try to get rid of your bad habits. In camp, they put up with them or turn them into art projects. In school, they tell you what you’re learning will be useful someday. In camp, what you’re learning is useful right now!

She has had two great camp experiences this year, and I wanted to write about both of them because we have a whole month left of summer (those of us who don’t attend PVUSD), so don’t give up on camp yet.

When my son was six, I read about Renaissance Camp and talked to a very happy parent, and we decided to try it out. It was fabulous, and he went for two summers. Luckily, the very happy parent warned me about the waiting list. She said, “Call them and find out which day and time registrations open online. Then put that on your calendar and register right as soon as it opens because they always fill.”

Renaissance Camp is all about hands-on art and science. Younger campers are joined by camp alumni who work as teen counselors. The staff is fabulous and they take amazing fieldtrips. This summer my daughter went to the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. My son’s group went to the Exploratorium. All expenses are included in the camp fees. You get a really great calendar each week telling you what they’re going to do. Your child comes home brimming with new ideas and insights. I have absolutely no complaints.

This year, however, things were different. The camp didn’t fill. The director was put on furlough so she couldn’t be there full-time. None of this affected the campers — they were happy as clams. But I noticed it. There was a sign up informing parents that there was space in all three sessions still. (The third session starts Monday, and I bet they still have room…) The staff seemed particularly interested in having us fill out evaluations — the County, of course, is looking for any way to cut funds, and a program for kids that didn’t fill this summer might look like an easy target.

After Renaissance Camp, we took some time off camp to travel and relax, then she was back at it with Santa Cruz Soccer Camp. Again, I have not one complaint to lodge. Like last year, the program was lovely, my daughter was very happy, and she learned a whole lot more than just soccer moves. I wrote an article about Santa Cruz Soccer last year and also blogged about it.

Like Renaissance Camp, Santa Cruz Soccer is also experiencing great declines in enrollment. It runs on a weekly program, with new sessions every week, so you can sign up anytime during the summer. Unlike Renaissance Camp, SC Soccer is not a County program. They can only function if they get enough money, and most of that comes from enrollment. And most of their enrollment comes from word of mouth (or in this case, fingers!).

It’s a hard time now for everyone, and one of the hardest things to judge is this thing they call “Consumer Confidence.” Even people who haven’t seen a decline in their income are starting to think twice about spending. The problem is, when confidence goes down we start to get a snowball effect: Those who have enough money start spending less, which results in fewer jobs and less tax revenue. In a county like ours, that means that services we have known and loved for years start to disappear. And once they disappear, they don’t necessarily just pop back into place when the economy starts up again.

In my own mind, I have to fight with this lack of confidence. When I spend the money on a camp, I remind myself that not only does it make my daughter extremely happy (camp all year round!) but it also supports our local economy and continues programs that I support. I’d hate to think that these wonderful experiences won’t be here for future Santa Cruz kids. The people providing these services lose their jobs, move on to something else, somewhere cheaper to live, and their accumulated experience can’t be replaced.

I’m fine with change, but not that kind of change!

So I guess my message for the day is this: If you have the money, camp is a great experience, and your choice of camps is out there this summer. These two camps are just two that I know have room, but I’m guessing most of them do. And many of them are probably offering discounts. And if you’re not in Santa Cruz, I’m sure this is happening communities across the country, too.

We’ve got one month left of time to offer your child the experience of taking joy in creation, movement, and invention.

As I told the owner of Santa Cruz Soccer, the most precious thing to me about the camp is that I see my daughter shining with success. She’s not always successful at other things she needs to do in life, but camp is all about success. And that’s a gift I’m happy to give her, each summer until the money dries up!

Posted in Culture, Parenting, Psychology.


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  1. Your Garden linked to this post on July 24, 2010

    Camp every day! Camp all year round! ? Avant Parenting…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Tweets that mention Camp every day! Camp all year round! – Avant Parenting -- Topsy.com linked to this post on July 24, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by lukegregory.com, lukegregory.com. lukegregory.com said: Camp every day! Camp all year round! – Avant Parenting http://bit.ly/cJNCEK /via @lukegregory […]

  3. More than just soccer – Avant Parenting linked to this post on July 18, 2011

    […] than just soccer I have written before about how much I love the folks at Santa Cruz Soccer Camp. This year, we’re at it again. […]

  4. Back to homeschool – Avant Parenting linked to this post on September 1, 2011

    […] really important reason that we change our routine during the summer is the wonderful opportunity of summer camps. I’ve written before how if school were more like summer camp, we’d be doing school […]



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