On our kitchen table at home is a pile of catalogs and summer events calendars. I've been collecting them for some weeks now, and I leaf through them while I'm sipping my coffee, or eating breakfast. My head swims when I look at all the activities you can sign your kid up for during those summer weeks:
--Sewing camp (really!)
--Colonial camp (dress up like early settlers and make candles!)
--Doll-making camp (rag-dolls, not even American Girl dolls)
And the list goes on. There are workshops for kids of all ages--day-long ones, and week-long ones. My interest was sparked by one I saw listed for paper-making. For $150 for a week of half-days, your child can learn to make his own paper and then, at the end of it, produce a little homemade book. This sounded like something that would be right up L.'s alley. But then I started to think about the price tag--$150 to make paper? I got online and googled paper-making activities and found lots of great sites with recipes for making your own paper at home, and it all seemed like it would cost way less than $150 dollars.
Last summer I signed L. up for a musical instrument-making workshop at a well-known science center for kids. The workshop cost $30, and $15 to be a member (which you had to be before you signed up, so really the workshop ended up costing $45). I spent the morning with L. at the workshop and by the end of it he had made...a small guitar out of a cereal box and a cardboard paper towel tube and rubber bands. I can't tell you how many cereal box instruments the kids and I have made over the years! We could outfit an entire band! It seemed preposterous to me that we had spent $45 to do a craft that the kids and I could have easily done at home. Plus there was a scary six-year-old there who decorated his cereal box banjo with sketches of weapons and skull faces riddled with bullet holes.
I am sure there are wonderful summer opportunities for kids, and I know we haven't even tried a fair sampling of them. But when I look through the catalogs, I just can't seem to justify the cost of a camp/workshop, given what the content seems to be. To make matters more complicated, L. himself is always torn--he digs his heels in at the thought of any type of camp or workshop where he'll be thrown in with other kids and expected to interact socially, yet he is also interested in the concept of doing something different and fun for a solid week. We have good parent friends with one child, a daughter who is nearing 10. Instead of investing money in summer camps and workshops for her, they set aside one week out of the summer for what they call "Smith Camp" (last name changed to protect the innocent). Before this week they make a list of all the activities they didn't have time for during the year, or other educational and fun activities their daughter is particularly interested in. We've been intrigued by this practice of theirs for years now; whenever we see them after their week of Smith Camp, they seem exhilirated, refreshed.
Scott and I are thinking about creating our own Professor Mom Family Camp (PMFC) this summer. We have a slim window of five or six days between summer-school classes, and we're already compiling a list of fun and educational activities for us all to enjoy--some for T. and some for L. We're thinking maybe a trip to Colonial Williamsburg or Mount Vernon, and maybe a couple of our favorite area museums. We could head to the beach for the day and picnic there for lunch, or go hiking. I'm lining up a list of fun science and art activities for us to do on the screened-in porch, in-between pool time, of course. We could even make paper before we head out for PMFC, and then the kids could chronicle their week's adventures on the pages of their very own, homemade books--bound by thread because, of course, we will also have learned to sew.