Monday, August 05, 2013

The Short Bus...For Parents!

What do y'all think about summer camp - all-day camp, for 1 week, for the princely sum of $175?

Oh wait, that's just for the "busing". Camp in the NYC-area is essentially $100 a day, $500 a week PLUS the $175 for the bus if needed. So it pushes $700.


Have three kids and the summer "babysitting" is 2k per week, for 7 or 8 weeks.

We've done more camp this year than ever before.

First they both did a 2-day chess camp.

Then they did a week of VBS (Vacation Bible School). That was only 3 hours per day and was free. (We donated $200 nonetheless).

Then I sent my son to a week of chess (and soccer) camp run by a Russian grandmaster (only 23 kids). He liked it so much I sent him for a second week. (Plus our normal chess coach has been unavailable. He teaches all summer at the famed USDAN camp (costs $800 per week) on Long Island.

My daughter did a large, multi-sport camp for one of those weeks. It was at best, "okay".

This week she is doing art camp for $475 (9 am to 3 pm). It's not really a camp but rather a small class 2-5 kids at a local studio.

My son was SUPPOSED to be doing Cub Scout camp this week starting today. We were there at 7:25 am waiting for the bus with another family....only the bus never came!

So I got a raw deal out of that. I had not only my son all day today, but also the other family's boy instead of the day-off I was supposed to enjoy! Incidentally, this Scout camp is pretty good. It's all day at the Reservation, and only costs $350 for the week including the bus. My son absolutely loves it; he's outside all day long; so we pretty much have to send him.

The short bus?

For the most part that's what camp busing looks like. All summer long there are these little buses zipping all over the streets. In the morning and then again at the end of the day. The prestigious expensive camps will have their names on signs in the bus windows. Some even have all the kids' names written on the windows. Whatever.

I believe that most of these camps suck. The summer is ideally for free time and most of these poor kids have already been overscheduled and harried all year long.

These camps are glorified, expensive babysitting. They are staffed by 19 year kids for crying out loud.

But if both parents are is of course a necessary evil.

On the other hand, there are PLENTY of parents that are home all day long who do nothing (order out, have maids, etc.) and still ship their kids off to camp all summer long.

Camp was not such a big thing when I was a deprived child (think "Angela's Ashes"!) growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts. My siblings and I, when we got older, did maybe 1 or at the most 2 weeks of summer camp. And I don't remember it being so prevalent up in Boston when we lived there from 2005-2010. But then again my kids were much younger and I may have just not noticed it.

For sure though, camp is huge here in New York.

While waiting at a major intersection this morning for the Cub Scout bus...

I counted no less than 100 other short buses that went by!

On the 100th one and 40 minutes past the scheduled pick-up time, one I decided to cut my losses and take the kids home.

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