Stories about: summer camp

The power of play: unstructured fun vs. organized activities

Claire McCarthy, MD

Natasha doesn’t want to go to swim camp this summer.

Of course, she waits until I’ve sent out the emails to the other swim team moms discussing weeks and carpools before she tells me that the only thing she really liked about it last year was that I let her have Lunchables for lunch (I never buy that stuff, not sure what got into me). Apparently she didn’t get to spend much time with her friends, the kids in her lane were pushy, and games they played when they were out of the pool weren’t very fun. “They taught us the same stuff I learn in practice, anyway,” she said.

Summer is still a few months away, but now is when we need to start making plans if we want to get the weeks that work at the camps we want. The thing is, I can’t seem to generate any interest in camp among my children. I don’t know if it’s just too hard to think about summer with the piles of snow outside, but there is no enthusiasm to be found.

This may not be a terrible thing. It would be nice not to have to get everyone up and out in the morning. And a cheaper summer would be helpful, with both high school and college tuitions to pay next year. We have a family vacation planned for two weeks in August, and thanks to all the snow days they won’t be out of school until the end of June, so it’s really just July that is blank. Still, it feels weird not to plan anything. Is it okay to say that the kids will just…play?

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