This weeks the boys are going to a local day camp, as both Jim and I have to work a lot (sigh). This may not sound like too big a deal, but for kids who are home schooled and spend most of their time in self-directed activities or 'lessons' planned with their interests and abilities in mind, this presents a major culture shock. You can bet we have had some very interesting conversations every evening.
One of Williams biggest complaints is that 'they treat me like I don't have a brain'. He is referring to the counsellors directing the activities - something that they are hired to do, and apparently do very well. Now, there is certainly a part of me that feels the need for my kids to spend some time directed by others - unfortunately, life is just like that sometimes. But William raises some very good points - if camp is supposed to be fun, and he is having fun playing with building toys, why should he stop in order to play pin-the-tail-on-the-elephant which is not fun?
The other frustration, for both of us, is how tied the counsellors are to the 'rules', Part of this is a function of their age - as young summer staff, I don't imagine they are encouraged a whole lot to think for themselves.
Example #1 Each child is supposed to bring a lunch and 2 snacks every day. I have two kids going to this camp, so each morning I pack a cooler bag with enough food for 2 kids (2 lunches, and 4 snacks). I put in one treat each, and the rest is nutritious foods. At ages 7 and 5, I trust them to eat when they are hungry, and stop when they are not. If they choose to have their treat first thing, so be it - they will have lots of healthy stuff for the rest of the day. Apparently, that is not good enough. I have been requested to divide the food up by child, and by meal - each to be clearly marked.
Example #2 It so happens that there are fairly few kids registered for camp this week (about 10 kids) and most of them are between the ages of 3-5. That makes William the oldest by about 2 years. Monday night when he came home, William expressed a bit of frustration at feeling left out - and not all that interested in the activities planned that have been geared for younger kids. I suggested that he speak to the leaders and offer instead to help with the younger kids - something he currently does at soccer, and loves it. This, apparently was not an option. I am not sure if the counsellors are not able to think of anything for him to do, or rather it is just too different from how things normally happen. Either way, Will is still bored, and now feeling a bit rejected, too.
So here is where we are at - unfortunately, we don't have any other options for child care this week. And really, although they are not loving it, it is not a horrible place for them to be. We have had some great conversations about making the best of a less than ideal situation, and about how we all learn best. So this post, I guess, is a bit about venting my frustration, and even more about appreciating how blessed I feel to be able to home school my kids. These frustrations that we are facing are for a week, not for a whole school year. They are the exception rather than the rule to how we live our lives. And after all, there are only two camp days left in the week.