This is how we summer: camps and the free-time balance in OKC - MetroFamily Magazine
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This is how we summer: camps and the free-time balance in OKC

by Callie Collins

Reading Time: 3 minutes 




Oklahoma City family fun is waiting for us. Memorial Day is this weekend already. If you haven't made plans yet, check out MetroFamily's Memorial Day Weekend Fun Guide.

Summer's promise of free time, more than during the school year at least, causes some mixed feelings for parents. 

June shines ahead and it can be anything we want. School finishes up this week for many families across the metro and I speak for many who are glad to be done with the drop-off/pick-up routine, homework and schedules. I haven't had a chance to focus on what our daily life looks like after this week, even as my planner has been full since the camp enrollments I checked off my list in February. 

What I love about summer is its inherent cheerfulness, with sun and possibilities. Summer anthems promise freedom and every parent's playlist harkens back to some summer we remember in flashes with tangerine afternoons and unsupervised time. 

Everyone needs some downtime. Study after study shows the benefit of boredom, that kids actually need unscheduled time to do something creative, imagine, discover what's around them or just relax. I see a lot of parental struggles with how much of anything is too much, though, from screen time to sunblock. Summer camps and classes, the need for structure, versus the freedom to rest and imagine is a hot topic right now. 

My oldest son is 10 and fourth grade draws to a close tomorrow. Sam is so young but there are just a few more summers of complete freedom, without a job or other worries. I want him to lie back in the tall grass, watch clouds and sleep late. He'll play with neighbors, drip ice cream on my rug and read with a flashlight.

I've enrolled Sam in three camps this summer and that's plenty, I think. I hope. It's half as many as last year because he asked to have some downtime. I kept pushing. He kept pulling. He wins. We'll do martial arts one evening a week, just like during the school year, but that's all. 

There's definitely a sense of keeping up with other parents to all this summer camp enrollment, tutoring and rush to do the best we can for them. Fear of fostering the summer slump, that regressive period researchers warn us about with a backslide on what they've learned in math and reading throughout the previous academic year, is also the part that gives me pause. I know it's just 20 minutes each day that's needed to help with that but I want to make sure Sam doesn't burn out. 

Before I can really reflect on all that summer is and should be, my middle son bounces into the room. Isaac is 5 and full of energy.

"Look at my balloon! It's bigger than your head," he declares as he shoves it near my face. I bat it away and keep working.

Isaac's going to camp too. Several camps. I need my sons to have a routine and there is nothing wrong with that. Working parents need quality care in the summer too. 

So we'll grill outdoors, go to the park more, plan a road trip. They will go to camp and we'll roast marshmallows under the stars after they come back tired. Childhood will fade away, season after season, like so many summer fireflies. Right now, we have a chance to make those memories, shape where we can what they'll be. 

If you need help planning, look at the list of resources here. It's all-things summer. 

There's one activity listed here for each day for the next 100 days too. 

Excuse me, I have to sign up everyone in our family for the Metropolitan Library System's summer reading program. I think we can all agree on that part of the routine, at least, time with books and family. 

I wish you a summer of fun that includes what works for your family. May there not be too many scraped knees, melted popsicles or annoying amounts of Minecraft. Here's to camp-outs, cold-brew coffee and enjoying all of it with them.

Happy summer! 

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