Weekend report: Summer camp, dragging children to art museums, etc.

I experienced a new milestone this weekend: sending a child off to sleep-away camp. I took the 12-year-old yesterday to get on the bus and go off for a week in the woods. He knows a lot of the kids, and I think it will be fun (one friend, in the parking lot, said it was the best week of her life last summer). Of course, there were a lot of nerves. We got texts that he didn’t sleep well (always a problem with the first night in a new place). I’m really hoping that today goes decently.

Other than that, it was a reasonable summer weekend. I went to my daughter’s performance of King Midas and the Golden Touch on Friday. There have been four total shows for the kids doing theater camp this summer and I’ve managed to make it to all of them. My parents came to two (one for each child) and my husband came to two (one for each child) — so we were well-represented in the audiences.

My husband and I went out for a fairly quick date night dinner downtown on Friday night. Afterwards, we walked through the Barnes & Noble in Rittenhouse Square, and I had to take a picture posing with one of their copies of Juliet’s School of Possibilities. (Are you following me on Instagram? @lvanderkam). I know this is not my first time around the block in the book publishing world, but I still think it is so cool to be able to walk into a bookstore and see my books. My novel is being sold at Barnes & Noble! This just makes me giddy.

On Saturday we — by which I mean my husband and I — wanted to go see an exhibit at the Brandywine River Art Museum of N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations (the Andrew Wyeths there in the permanent collection are also really cool). So we took the four kids. Wow was there a lot of whining, as there is every time we go to an art museum. But hey, it can’t all be trampoline parks. Plus, afterwards we went to the Independence Seaport area in Philly and played at the arcade, toured a ship, and briefly met up with cousins who were on their way to the Jersey Shore (everyone got ice cream; well, I didn’t order any because of my veteran parent knowledge that the 4-year-old would only take a few bites…so I just ate his. Frugal!).

Other weekend highlights: harvesting a ton of tomatoes from the garden. They’re really coming in fast and furious right now. My 9-year-old has been eating two tomato-and-mozzarella salads per day, but he’s not quite able to keep up with the output.

Then Sunday was the camp drop-off. We shall see how this week goes!

11 thoughts on “Weekend report: Summer camp, dragging children to art museums, etc.

  1. My cherry tomatoes have started to ripen but my big tomatoes haven’t yet – we are a good 2 weeks behind you in Minnesota since summer arrives later here. I can’t wait for fresh tomatoes. They taste so much better than store-bought ones!

    I just finished “Bringing Up Bebe” – the author talks about the prevalence of French parents sending their kids away to week-long sleep away camps as early as age 6!! That’s something I can’t even fathom!! I think I was probably around your son’s age when I went to sleep away camp. I loved it but don’t know that I would have loved it at age 6? The book was really interesting as there is quite a difference in parenting styles between the French and Americans.

    1. @Lisa- the French have some interesting history in that regard. Apparently, a few hundred years ago the entire infant population of Paris used to be shipped out to wet nurses in the country for years. I guess a few weeks of summer camp is nothing compared to that! (Factoid from the book Act Natural).

      I think I started going around age 9 for a few days, and was handling a week by age 12 – 3 weeks at age 13. I loved it!

      1. Early age overnight camps are not just a French thing, but a general European thing. I’m originally from Central Europe and went to my first overnight camp at age 7, for three weeks. By the time I was 12 I was being sent for three week language immersion camps abroad (so none of the adults spoke my native tongue) and at age 14 my parents just put me on a plane to stay with a family of friend’s relative in Canada for the summer (none of use met these people) and I traveled intercontinental by myself.
        I won’t say it was all great, and I always despised and refused to go to actual “camping” camps, but my parents wanted to grow my independence and it worked so well that I moved from Europe to US on my own at age 18. If you ask my parents today they’d say I grew up to be a bit too independent, but I was never the youngest one in any of the camps I attended.

  2. HAHA none of my kids would ever eat several bites of ice cream and get bored. They don’t always finish, but they definitely will eat until everything is such a mess I wouldn’t want to touch it with a 10 foot pole, frugality be damned 🙂

  3. I went to sleep away camp starting in 2nd grade and every summer after that for one week. My friend went to a camp in Canada and was gone for 6 weeks in elementary school! Maybe your daughter will be ready at a younger age! My guess is that it will be the best week of the 11 year’s olds summer!

    Fried green tomatoes for the win?

    I quote some Laura Vanderkam every day (sometimes just in my head) and constantly try to remember the lessons from Juliette’s School 🙂 Huge fan,

    1. @Nicole – It probably will be the best week of the summer! It’s just always challenging to do something new. So glad you’re quoting me…:)

  4. My older kids (almost 15 and 12) are away for 6 weeks of summer camp! They come back next week. It’s been amazing for them, in terms of maturity and independence, and a great time overall. (Not always great – they haven’t loved every moment – which I think is actually a good thing.) And they are not allowed phones, which is probably at least half the reason why we send them. I love the break from technology. Considering allowing child #3, who will be 11 next summer, to go for 2 weeks in 2020. (The older kids started at 2 weeks, then moved up to 4, then 6.)

  5. Hi Laura,
    I’ve found the art museum-whining effect goes down significantly by bringing sketch books and pencil crayons for each kiddo to capture their own renditions of the artwork. Often they’ll see real “artists” or art students in there doing the same so it makes them feel professional! Some institutions have audio guides (bonus if they’re geared especially for kids) and these alone make the visit interesting for all.

    1. @Amy- when we only have the older kids, we definitely do the audio guides. It helps a lot. The little guy is still just slippery. We wound up putting him on benches with a phone to play games while my husband and I looked at everything.

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