Oklahoma City family fun takes place over the summer and we're just on the cusp of when it all begins.
Today doesn't feel like summer. It's overcast and rainy but sure as the sunshine to follow, it'll be here and we'll be facing the no-school, no-Mother's-Day-Out dilemma.
That's right. It's time to find camps and classes, quick.
You might have something similar going on at your house, the "there's no child care for three months" doldrums. My 10 year-old is too young to stay alone and his brothers just need something to keep busy, i.e. not coloring on my walls and asking repeatedly for snacks. I don't want to pay for daycare but I do need to be able to hang out with this laptop, go to meetings and not live with every possible surface covered in cereal and Legos.
Uh-huh. I'm right there with you, counting the weeks of school that remain with feelings that are pretty much inverse to those of my almost fifth-grader. He's crossing off the days with joy and I'm counting them with just a little bit of dread because there are things I need to do between now and then. I love summer and seeing them more, with the freedom to stay up late and play flashlight hide 'n seek every night of the week but the logistics of 12 unscheduled weeks make many a good parent shudder.
Enter summer camp. And that sense of urgency to enroll, immediately.
There is a day camp to fit every interest, from art and archery to zoology. Seriously. I'm impressed every year at the variety of things to do that are organized by qualified adults, complete with snacks and supervision, and offered for a fee. Click here for 70+ camps offering enrollment right now.
If any of this was around 20 years ago when I was a kid, I had no idea. It's definitely here now, though, and enrollment fills up quickly.
I can only speak from my experience but I'll let you in on my summer camp secrets: we have two favorite summer camps that have been consistently outstanding and that I re-enrolled my kids in without hesitation because they'll have a terrific time. I know because they did these same camps last year and both were a stellar success. I want them occupied, yes, but it has to be a quality experience.
Sam's going to chef camp at Edmond Mobile Meals' Little Chefs Learn to Serve camp. I love this camp because kids work with a real chef to study basic cooking techniques. This year's emphasis is sushi rolling. There are some life skills tucked into that plus a community service message about the work they do in our community. Those lessons go beyond summer and that makes it a win/win.
Sam still talks about last year's camp focus on Latin American cuisine, which is important to our family because of our bilingual, bicultural household but also because it's just really good food that we're glad to know how to prepare as a family. Sam brought home delicious food every day for our family to try, plus a chef's hat and apron and some cooking utensils that are still in use within my kitchen. I'm looking forward to the sushi already. The self-confidence I saw after that camp also makes it a go-to favorite in our family.
The other camp my two elementary-schoolers will be attending is First United Methodist's Summer Day Camp. The price is right at $75 for four half-days and themes like Where the Wild Things Are, Under the Sea and Wildly Creative. That works for us because my kids have gone through their stellar preschool/Mother's Day Out program and I couldn't ask for better teachers. That same staff supervises their summer camps and I really appreciate the sense of community they foster.
Kids need consistency and adults outside our family they can talk to, grow with and learn from, besides friends and continued learning. There's a spot for my two-year-old as well since enrollment starts at 18 months but he'll go next year or something, when he's ready.
I've heard there are excellent sleep-away camps like Camp DaKani and St. Crispin's but I'm not unlike my baby going to camp, I'm decidedly unprepared for that experience. Maybe my children are ready but I'm not there yet, even as I mentally brace myself for wet towels and grass blades thrown haphazardly our tile all summer long. If your kids are going away to camp, get these tips on curing homesickness.
Ultimately, this whole child raising thing is so much bigger than me and what I need this summer. Raising three individuals who participate in our community is the ultimate goal and these three months are a great time to let them experience some of that. Sam may also go see his grandparents in Costa Rica for a month or so too, develop some language skills and find family. There is value in connecting with the world, whether that's right here in Oklahoma or far from home.
These sidewalk chalk handprints will fade away and I want to be left with three young people who are ready to put those hands to good use. Later, there will be service learning projects and summer jobs but right now, they are 10, 5 and 2. There's time for summer camp.
Know of a great summer camp? Share your experience with a comment on social media! We'd love to hear from you.