Summer Camp or Summer Containment? You’re the Judge

by Queenie on May 27, 2010

Image of QueenieSummer is quickly approaching and you are being confronted with the dreaded issue

“Where are Jessica and Aden going to go for summer camp?”

Summer camps have always been around, but within the last 30years, the way that parents and kids alike look at summer has dramatically changed.

Summer is no longer about running around the neighborhood, jumping over fences and roaming around with your friends making up games it’s more about child containment and consumer based play.

The question your facing is the same question that millions of other parents are facing.

Summer residential and day camps have gone hand in hand with historical trends, and as the century turned, many camps promote the idea that kids can only have “fun” when adults entertain them and create programs that run from sun up to sun down.

I personally don’t believe that summers should be filled with over planned activities that move kids from one experience or craft to the next. This sort of adult facilitated play has changed the way children interact with themselves and the world around them.

Simply stated children are contained and have no time to explore the simple things and create through their type of natural play.

Stillness and silence isn’t valued. Child-like meditation is overlooked and busy looking activities are preferred, because somehow doing more has qualified as a first-rate experiences for children equated with fun.

I’ve even heard parents comparing camps like they were ivy league colleges, all with the feeling that the more the child is doing the better the camp must be.

Don’t get me wrong.

There is some validity to having your child experience different activities and events but when the entire camp experience is dominated by plans made by adults, that’s where I have a problem.

Children should have the opportunity to sit still and stare at dirt piles, dig and find the hidden routes of the gofer that keeps popping his head out, run for no reason, sketch out the flower that keeps captivating their attention, lay on the ground and read while others are doing the scheduled activity, and have the must have conversation with their friend when they are supposed to be painting.

The point is that children spend all year long with adults telling the to do and how to do it at school. Summer camp shouldn’t be that way. It definitely shouldn’t contain kids but rather keep them safe and allow them to play, in such a way that freedom emerges.

Megan’s Note: Queenie is once again offering the amazing Camp N’Vision through Distinguished Learning Group this June!  Sign up details are here.

Queenie Lindsey is an academic coach and educational consultant. She is the founder of Tandem Teaching and Distinguished Learning Group, an academic coaching firm. Follow her on Twitter.