Thanks, in part, to the romanticized versions of summer camp found in TV and movies, many view it as a luxury - a fun experience that parents enroll their children in to help facilitate a magical childhood and soon-to-be nostalgic memories. But the truth of the matter is summer camp - whether sleep-away or day - is a necessity for most parents. Very few jobs have the summers off and even fewer professionals can afford to take them off if they do. (An estimated 1 in 6 teachers have second jobs year round.)
Summer camp/care is a much needed childcare service, keeping children of all ages not just entertained but safe from June through August. This year it feels particularly necessary. Children have been home since March with limited, if any, access to their friends. Parents - unless deemed essential - have been home, as well, trying to work, and educate/care for their children at the same time. Camp is a haven for both - time out of the house for the kids and time to work for the parents.
However, it also seems risky. After months closed off to the world, is it safe to send children to camp even if it’s outdoors? Will temperature checks, hand washing, smaller cohorts and masks on staff be enough to keep kids healthy? And is it affordable? Many have lost their jobs or seen reduced hours and pay since the pandemic started. Summer camps range from $100 to $500+ a week. That means a few thousand dollars per summer, per child (more than the stimulus checks sent out in April).
This decision, particularly this year, will weigh heavily on parents, including many of our Fellows. How do you choose when the wellbeing of the child, the parent, the family and the community don’t necessarily align?