My eldest daughter got accepted to a summer camp this coming July. She has been to this camp before but because of the popularity of the program she registered for, her name was put into a lottery…all randomly selected. Who knows if this is just a way to create urgency or if its legitimate. Either way, today we found out that she got accepted.
Needless to say, she was over the moon. She had found out through a mutual friend, who also got accepted. She quickly sent me a text message followed by a phone call while on lunch break at school to verify what her friend had already told her.
I was on the phone with my wife at the time when my daughter called me on my cell. Before I picked up, I asked my wife if I should lie or tell her the truth. She didn’t answer…I had to quickly decide.
At first I lied and told her that we hadn’t received confirmation. But then I figured, “what the hell” and told her the good news.
Now we were committed – at least to our daughter.
Money is tight right now and with two children to send to camp next year…I keep on reminding myself and my children, that summer camp is not a right…its a priviledge. Just like many other things in life that our children often take for granted…in this capitalistic society we live in, our children are quickly being swept up in the notion that everything that is out there for the taking, they are entitled to.
Not so. Up until recently, the one “get out of jail card” we had over our daughter was the assumption that if she did not perform well in school this year, she would not be going to this camp. The reality is, she is doing well in school, other than in math…which is a work in progress.
Of course we want our children to have great experiences in life. Camp is just one of the many experiences we know that will help create memories and further develop their self-confidence and independence. But at what cost?
Camp is freakin’ expensive…no two ways around it.
As a parent, we need to let our children know that nothing in this life is free (other than the air we breathe…hell even water costs money!). We need to let them in on the costs of living and that not every child (unfortunately), gets the priviledge of going away to some beautifully situated camp where for a month or so, they get to be outside, swim in the lake, learn a craft, go on a canoe trip, master a new sport, perfect a dive and maybe make some life-long friends.
The priviledge to do this is very expensive and limited to those with means. Yes, there are different kinds of camping programs that are closer to home, but as a kid who was priviledged enough to be able to go to summer camp, I can tell you that the experience can be life changing.
I now appreciate the honor of being able to leave the big city for the beauty of northern Ontario. I look back with only fond memories of that time away from home. I think about how I honed my independence…my confidence in myself and now, as a 47 year old, long for the freedom I felt, boarding that bus to leave for a month adventure away from my family.
But, one of the many shitty parts of adulthood is the responsibility of having to pay for everything.
I loathe the idea of having to tell my daughter that she cannot go to this camp. While it wouldn’t be the end of the world, the overwhelming sense of disappointment she would experience would be too hard to handle.
But life is sometimes filled with disappointment. I have developed a belief that if you don’t have expectations, you will never be disappointed. Maybe that is a cynical way of looking at life…but I have been through enough rejection in my professional life, to want to continue to get my hopes up.
Trying telling a 15 year old this?
Our children are not spoiled…at least compared to many of the friends both our daughters hang out with. However, we try our best to provide them with more than just what they need. They have great family who often do nice things for them and wonderful grandparents who not only love them but also treat them very well.
However, our daughter needs to know that while we will do our very best to get her into this camp, it will be a tough grind as her parents to make it happen.
We won’t tell her this out of guilt but as a way of letting her know that this opportunity is a priviledge and not a right.