Written in early July with fewer details in the interest of privacy **************
In lieu of travel and it being Kiddo’s first summer after his first year of school, it’s all about camps in the summer months. And some real camping/glamping.
For Kiddo’s first March Break break, NPY took the first week off and I could observe while I continued to work the challenges with having him off for a whole week while even just one of us attempts to work. I took the second week off and at this point I don’t even have clear memories. I tried to make the days Baby was in daycare loosely structured with a STEAM or educational activity in the morning and get out during the rest of the day. I think we got rained out one of the three days anyways. And when I thought I could drop both kids off at grandparents during Baby’s regular day with grandparents, they were exposed to other grandchildren who were nursing colds so I had to keep Baby and Kiddo away. Colds are a major hassle during Covid times!
And while we were in March Break, community centres – one at a time – opened up their summer camp registrations and it was a flurry to get Kiddo signed up. I got Kiddo signed up for three weeks of camp in a flurry of What’s App conversations with three other mothers so that Kiddo was in activities I wanted him in and with his friends from childhood, daycare and school.
Conversations continued as other community centre registration dates came up and Kiddo is signed up for soccer camp and bike camp too. I learned to count the weeks we have to play with (nine) and he is scheduled as follows.
- Full day camp at Trout Lake Community Centre with a daycare friend
- Pedalheads cycling camp with a childhood and school friends (morning/half-day)
- Sportball basketball camp with a school friend (afternoon/half-day)
- Art of Tennis – tennis followed by art – with a childhood friend
- Vancouver Performing Stars musical (“performance”) camp with two daycare friends (afternoon/half-day)
- Full day camp at Britannia Community Centre with a daycare friend
- Free Kick soccer camp with childhood, daycare and school friends (morning/half-day)
- & 9. I’m off work for over 2 weeks, until after school starts
Somewhere in there, we’re going camping (glamping) with two other families, for two nights, at Fort Camping in Fort Langley.
Unless things get cancelled.
And to support running Kiddo to camps all located farther than his school, I am working a reduced schedule during the summer, starting work at 10 a.m. every day for 10 weeks.
The things we do for kids!
Written after all the camps wrapped **********************
Kiddo’s first school year is over and we’re comfortable with the transition from daycare with an educator-child ratio of 1:8 and on secured grounds to elementary school grounds basically open to the world. Then we let go further with the prospect of seven summer camps with seven different groups of people at seven different locations, some as public as school and far less familiar to the kids. Ay! What a thing to wrap my head around when I stopped for a moment to think about it!
>Week #1 To kick things off in “real camp” fashion, Kiddo was enrolled in a full-day camp with no particular theme. His daycare friend L was with him all week. “Glorified daycares”, L’s mom told me as L had been to some over March Break and the single-day “camps” in the broken week of Canada Day between school letting out on June 29 and full camp weeks starting on July 5. My initial registration efforts were with community centers and the prices ranged from the cheapest rates for daycamps and more of a premium when it was an outside organization of good repute. Unfortunately, my faith in camp counsellors corresponded with how little I had to pay – probably not well-paid, young counsellors working a summer job. At least it seemed like some or most were university-attending students.
You get what you pay for it I was slightly horrified to hear that they played “hockey” in their socks, making themselves slip and slide around. At least, that’s what Kiddo told me. Art creations were not the most impressive to me including “leaf art” and “painted rock on paper”. I liked he was (re-)introduced to Shrinky Dinks. They made a lei with string, straws and construction paper. And the items that I don’t mind around the house are the felt stuffie star and the tie-dye bandanna, the latter introducing him to a traditional camp activity.
I’m not a proponent of deliberately instilling fear into a child’s heart and mind. I don’t believe in telling him what not to do. On the drive to camp, I would remind him that his first and foremost responsibility was safety of his own person and then skin. We had heat waves in the summer and I told him the sun is not benign – okay, I said exposure is dangerous because it is – and to drink water to protect himself. When he spent all Wednesday in the park nearby, I reminded him to stay with his group, to stick to his friend like glue, even if I don’t generally want to tell him to be that annoying friend. Through the experience, I came to realize that the kids – my kid – is being exposed to more independence and the world and it’s generally age appropriate.
Week #2 D’s mom arranged that D, C and Kiddo would attend Pedalheads cycling camp together. Just half-day in the mornings and hopefully he’d be satisfied from the effort and manageable at home in the afternoon. I “couldn’t afford” full day camp because it’s a pricey organization and on the first day, it seems to me like most kids are half-day, that only a small group of kids compared to the full morning cohort were having lunch under the sparse trees. It’s too much being outdoors without reprieve to spend a full day.
Pedalheads camps run at several locations around the city and they attended one at Nightingale which is close to home, a breeze to get to after the previous week at Trout Lake. The field was a total dust bowl which I thought hilarious in terms of how dusty they got – it was kind of wild. However, the dust may have contributed to his bike chain going crunk and he spent part of Wednesday and all of Thursday doing nothing! NPY “expected more” which is his snotty way of disapproving and yeah, the instructor seemed aloof, like she didn’t really enjoy spending time with kids. It’s a proper organization and Kiddo received a report card and was promoted to the next level. I’m not surprised – he’s pretty good for his age.
Week #3 This week kicked off three (long) weeks of trekking to the Hillcrest area and from where I live, both north-south running streets (Cambie and Main) have their issues. Basically, 17 minutes to get to camp and over 20 minutes to get home. The full hour. For 14 days.
I was stoked to see basketball camp offered by Sportball because basketball camp is about the only camp I was enrolled in and I could give that to Kiddo. His coach – Coach Hy – is not exclusive to basketball camps and is one of the good ones that C’s mom encountered at another camp/set of lessons. It was just three hours, between 1:00 and 4:00 pm, while I was older and attended full-day camp. That’s for him in the future! In the weeks following, he would keep asking to go back to basketball camp so it’s on the roster for next March Break and summer! This is an activity we can easily encourage for him: basketball courts are at every elementary school we go to for their playground and NPY who is tired of the playground hangs goes and shoots hoops and we end up there with him too.
Week #4 While for Sportball basketball camp, I could tell which organization was offering it, I thought for a while that “Tennis & Art camp” was a concept dreamed up by Hillcrest Community Centre through which I registered Kiddo. Looking for full-day camps as a first option, I spotted this opportunity for Kiddo to learn tennis young. I recalled to D’s mom how I started in a class with minimum age of 10 and I was nine and my mother told me to lie and say I was 10 but looking back, I must have looked so small and when they asked me, I didn’t lie! I didn’t get kicked out either because small as I was, I was a serious kid who didn’t make trouble. Kiddo needed to get a racquet that we requested and he received for his birthday. It’s an adorable racquet in size and design.
On the first day – oh! first day registration delays! – I learned the organization behind the concept is Art of Tennis Academy. Drop off is at the Queen Elizabeth Park tennis courts which are picturesque and feels like a privilege to access. They learn tennis for 2 (or 2.5) hours then walk into the park to eat lunch. Then they walk 15 minutes together to Riley park where they did “art under the trees”. It really was nicely shaded in the park and that was a relief since there were some scorching days. I was pleased that the art session was kind of serious about it and Kiddo was taught to draw proportionately in his self-portrait and he interpreted and re-created a Roy Henry Vickers-like sunset and Van Goh’s Starry Night on canvas.
Week #5 I really, really wanted the opportunity for Kiddo to attend dance camp even though he sounds disinclined to take dance lessons. Vancouver Performing Stars (VPS) had a “musical camp” that ran five hours (12:00-5:00 pm) which is nearly whole day and L’s mom and I signed up for it. Another daycare friend, E, also signed up. I’m familiar with the name VPS because it offers classes at community centres like the ballet or hip hop class that would be after school at the community centre near us.
It turns out that VPS camps cap off the week with a performance. Kiddo’s was a short week with a holiday Monday where there was no camp – they started on the Tuesday. And while the camp would usually be six hours each day, for some reason, it was only five. So the kids were still learning the abridge musical, Aladdin The Musical, in 20 hours instead of 30 hours. When Kiddo returned with a script and I couldn’t wrap my head around how they could execute the musical if he has so few lines and how his friends could learn more lines, I simply had to see the performance.
Other kids are VPS regulars and older and they carried the show with the big parts of Jasmine, Aladdin, Genie, etc. Kiddo had the second least lines and no real name although he played two roles! He was super shy during the performance and fidget-y. I don’t fault him at all, that is, not bugging on him because I don’t want to be discouraging. And I realized the kids – regardless of how many lines – spent the week learning the songs they danced to ensemble. I’m so glad he had the musical camp experience and I know he would have been 100% miserable if he wasn’t in it with friends!
Week #6 I had Kiddo booked at Trout Lake and Britannia at the same time and waiting to hear if L got off the Britannia waitlist. L’s mom told me that he had a great time there over March Break because the kids got access to Britannia’s facilities, the pool and skating rink. If L didn’t get in, I might have de-registered him from both camps since he said Trout Lake “wasn’t actually fun” and L had the same opinion. But L got in! On the first day, I saw the schedule and it was exciting! Swimming! Bowling! Skating! A wading pool! A spray park!
However I did Google the name of the parks they were going to wading pool/spray park and the top news article associated was to report that a homicide had been committed three days before the camp began! It gave me an unsettled feeling that I kept to myself. One of the days, he said that “someone gave him bubble gum” and he ate two of them. That kid! Instead of junk art, he kept coming home with rubber band bracelets and I’m pleased that he’s not adverse (yet) to adorning himself. I want him to stay that way. It’s a great camp I would consider again given the experiences the kids have together at swimming, bowling, skating, etc., although with the commute like to the bowling alley I get nervous about kids’ ability to stick together when they get distracted!
Week #7 Finally we arrived at the seventh and last week. Even if he has more in him, I don’t from all the change-up each week, which is 100% my responsibility since I scheduled him and I did all the drop-offs. Free Kicks is the soccer organization that L plays with throughout the year because it’s right at his school. L’s mom arranged that E and C would also register. And D’s mom wanted D to join the fun too! When we registered we knew it was “Jericho TBD” location but it turned out to be at University Hill Elementary on UBC grounds. Omgosh, that was a 20-minute drive and 10km away. Yes, it’s “nothing” in Toronto standards of commuting to work but in Toronto, wouldn’t finding camps that far for your kid (except really specific camps, okay). Thankfully, I wasn’t particularly rushed to make it back to work at 10 a.m. reduced work schedule start time from 9 a.m. drop off. If I was responsible for pick-up as I initially thought I would be, it would have been a very trying week. As it turned out, NPY took the week off and maybe he thought he was off scott-free because the calendar said Kiddo was in camp but he didn’t know camp was so far, and only three hours long.
More than in fall sessions last year, Kiddo had a couple of wet days to kick off the camp on Monday and to wrap it up on Friday. Everyone got a shiny, big, fairly heavy medal at the end and I extend it to being rewarding his accomplishment of his first summer of camps.
I want a medal too!