Can you believe it's already summer camp season?
Parents, you know what I'm talking about. The calendar says December. You just shoveled the driveway and are not sure if you still have toes. But it's time to think about fishing, horseback riding, canoeing, robotics, theater and cardboard sword-building, because the time to secure your child's spot in the more competitive summer camps is now.
Ever since my older child was 4, I have glommed onto a friend whose breathtaking organizational superpowers benefit all in her orbit. Every winter she produces a spreadsheet listing dozens of summer camps and city parks programs, along with their costs, dates and URLs. Another tab lists which camps her son and his buddies are attending each week. For many years I simply copied and pasted her child's plans. Moms, find yourself a friend like this.
I'm fortunate to be in a place in life where I can put great care into finding experiences for my children that I never had. Experiences that will lead to core memories, or that will help them unearth their inner spark or become well rounded humans. By late February, my family's entire summer is basically planned because the camp registration schedule necessitates it. (Yes, I realize how neurotic this sounds.)
This ritual got me thinking: What would the perfect camp look like for depleted moms? Not to exclude dads, these concepts could apply to any caregiver who carries the mental load of running a household.
After surveying some harried friends, we all agreed: A gift card to the spa is nice, but a true getaway from the treadmill of daily parenting tasks would be divine. The following is a list of dream camps we settled on. So come all ye adult campers, pick your activities and know that soon you'll be making new friends, learning new skills and enjoying unforgettable experiences!
Campers get a break from from prying children off of their legs and being kicked while strapping recalcitrant passengers into car seats. At this camp, no one is allowed to touch you. Well, except the on-site massage therapist.
You still go on Target runs, but in sweet, precious solitude. Someone has already produced the shopping list, so all you have to do is pick up the items. Also, there are no lines at checkout.
Talking is strictly prohibited. No questions asked. Campers will relearn the sound of silence. Furnishings are sparse, but campers do get private bathrooms.
Campers will be expected to choose content that will detoxify their algorithm-based viewing recommendations. A 14-day cleanse is required to erase all digital footprints of Power Rangers, Cocomelon and Gabby's Dollhouse.
TikTok home-organization influencers are the camp counselors. They measure all of your closets, help you purchase the right sized storage bins, provide labeling machines and tell you what goes where. Community building exercises involve folding clothes the KonMari Way beside a Zen waterfall.
Meal Planning Camp
This is a misnomer. You do NONE of the meal planning. Someone does it for you, while you listen to podcasts like "Missing Richard Simmons" and "My Favorite Murder."
Portrait Mode Camp
At this STEM camp, participants build cutting-edge eyewear that allows them to view their surroundings in portrait mode. When you return home with your special glasses, you can focus on your computer, your partner or your child — and voila! The filth and clutter behind them fuzzes away.
It might be Space Camp. It might be Sailing Camp. It might be Trapeze Camp. It is the coolest camp you have ever made happen for your child, but for you. And this time, with edibles.
Decision Detox Camp
Campers are forbidden from making any decisions about playdates, diaper creams, pediatrician visits and birthday parties. You have no input on meals served at camp, and that's by design. The only lists you are allowed to make are of individuals to whom you can delegate tasks. When you return home, the groceries will be stocked and the laundry done.
Summer Camp Registration Camp
While you hike, take a sauna, read magazines or do yoga, a professional summer camp expert hand-picks camps for your children based on their interests, growth areas, friend circles and availability. This camp sells out every January, so make sure to sign up when the site goes live at 7 a.m. Saturday.