Visiting Day

Camp_1Saturday was a rainy visiting day.  First rainy day in 8 years, not bad odds.  I have mixed feelings on visiting day.  On one hand it is fantastic to see the kids since they are gone for 8 weeks but on the other hand it isn’t necessary.  I know they are having fun otherwise, I would have heard from the camp. 

I have been reading a variety of articles on kids and camps over the past few weeks. Parents want to keep their kids nearer to home then they had in the past.  Less interest in sending kids away for 8 weeks.

More and more, among younger parents,  I see parents trying to navigate their kids lives for them.  How to do the homework, calling the parents of a friend who they are having problems with, etc.  Lots of new camps that are available are focused on singular sports so that a kid can excel at that sport in their school or add it to the resume for college.  Even intensive SAT training summer programs.  More new camps dedicated to achievement in the summer vs. kicking back and having fun. 

The competition is harder each year to get into the college of your choice.  Why?  Because the parents of this particular generation have created it.  Pushing harder and harder to make sure their kid has every tool imaginable to get into the college of their parents choice.  It is remarkable. 

Recently I saw a quote that I believe is the perfect quote for raising kids.  The best legacy you can give your kids are roots and wings.  I couldn’t agree more.  Give them roots to know where they came from, values they can believe in and fall back on.  By giving kids roots, it allows them to spread their wings.  Feel confident in making decisions by themselves, go to camp and learn to be independent, how to navigate their own issues among friends and school work, grow into the person that they want to be.

The overbearing parents who keep their kids too close to home are doing their kids a huge disservice.  One day those kids turn 18 and they are lost in the world because they were never given wings just big huge strangling roots.

Comments (Archived):

  1. franc

    this description does or does not apply to your parenting in your own opinion? are you not as involved and controlling as the parents you seemingly disdain in this post? just in reading your blog (primarily for your thoughts on restuarants) i think you are describing yourself. extreme wealth can make people naive and blind (and self serving, too.)

  2. Ted

    I think that there are some cultural dynamics that come into play here as well. At least in my neck of the woods, it is very common for Jewish families to send their children to camp for 8 weeks. In Northern Michigan there are several exceptionally large camps that have been in operation for well over 60 years. However, it is not the norm for non-Jewish families in my experience to send for such an extended period. I am not making any type of judgment, just an observation.

    Another observation that I have noticed related to this is that the kids leave at 18 and move away far more frequently. My friends (who for the most part were Jewish) who left the metaphorical nest at 18 are now good-hearted and successful mid-30 year olds. In other words, the kids do fine. But, by the same token those who do not go to camp for 8 weeks and stay at home a bit longer typically do fine as well.

    I would love to let me sons go to camp for 8 weeks, but as you alluded to, I grow uneasy at the thought. I am well-aware of my utter paranoia and admit that it is an uneasiness not based on actual statistics but rather perceived (or imagined) threats. I totally agree with you that many parents (myself included)are “over-protective.” It drives my mother, in particular, nuts.

    I brought a cultural aspect into this because there are nuances in child-rearing. For example, my wife is Asian and it is the norm to “co-sleep” (I roll my eyes to use that term- rather it should be the kids sleep with the parents). In the attempt to honor this tradition, I capitulated. However, while I can appreciate some benefits, I have asked my wife “how in the hell do I get them out now?” She said frankly “I never learned that part.”

    I tend not to be as reactionary as many other parents I know and I think that such behavior tends to be exacerbated in communities where the socio-economic and educational background tends to be higher. I am a member of the Ann Arbor parents listserv and am constantly shocked at what people are fussing about on a daily basis. But then again, it is what give the area its quirkiness. I think we should celebrate the fact that we have different approaches to rearing children.

    Good post.