Thursday, January 22, 2009

Summer Already?

Snow is still on the ground, but we’re thinking of summer already. In this area, January and February are the months we have to start looking into summer camps. It amazes me when this time of year comes around and I am barely getting over the holidays, let alone starting to think of summer. Go into any big box store, and I bet you $10 you’ll find the beginnings of swimsuits hitting the racks. Why is it that life needs to stay a few steps ahead of us? What’s wrong with signing kids up for summer camp in May? The camps don’t begin until June, so what’s the rush? And what about those swimsuits? Are the retailers assuming we’ll be so busy with summer camp that we can’t get to the stores during the warmer months? Try to find a good winter coat or pair of boots this time of year. Good luck. But a swimsuit? No problem. Better get it now, or they’ll be gone by the time you actually need it. Of course there’s no wearing it until 6 months from now, and who knows what will happen to your body by then.

So my boys are listing out their choices for summer camp like their gift lists from last month. And you’d think their last name was Rockefeller or Kennedy by the prices of the camps they want. So for five long weeks, we have to shell out a tidy sum for basketball, soccer, archery, etc. Where have the days gone when kids were able to run around outside all summer, leaving home in the morning, and not seen again until evening? What happened to lazy days swimming, biking, exploring?

It’s incredible how much our societal expectations have changed, determined by the economy and parents’ need to be in the work force. I know for our family, if I didn’t have to work, I would be spending those five weeks with my kids, helping them find great tree-climbing and cave-hunting experiences. But ask any family around here and you’ll find folks who have to work in order to stay afloat, and consequently, have to put their kids in camp to keep them busy and safe for the summer. It’s just expected that the kids go to camp, for at least 4, 6 and sometimes 8 full weeks. In fact, if I find a family that is not using a summer camp, I stop and ask what they are doing instead. It has become the exception rather than the norm to have a laid back, summery, summer. We just didn’t have to think about this stuff a few years ago.

Do you have summer plans for your family that vary from the norm? Share them here!

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