Photo credit: Thierry Draus
The summer bell is about to ring, and moms everywhere are scrambling. Chances are there’s at least one week or two you don’t have a plan and somehow when May rolls around we, parents, forget what to do with our children when they’re no longer in school. Well, let’s all stop trying to make plans. That’s right, because summer camps are so 2010. You heard it here first: 2017 is the summer of intentional boredom.
That’s right, parents. Stop trying so hard to entertain your kids. Psychologists are now championing boredom to help our over-scheduled children be more self-reliant. Seriously. Boredom breeds imagination. Let them be bored, they say. And for better or worse, this is one camp of thought I’m buying into.
Call me a child of the ’80s, but going to camp used to mean spending time in the great outdoors, as in “Let’s pitch a tent and sleep under the stars!” Now camp means: “What are you doing with your kids every week between the last day of school and the first day of school registration?”
Well, I’m rebelling. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars on camps, I’m putting my kids in the best FREE camp you’ve never heard of:
Disclaimer: This camp does NOT compensate its Camp Director (i.e. YOU!). Here’s how it works…
You, as Camp Director, allow at least one week — or a few hours a day if you need to work — when you let your kid(s) be bored. Don’t make this harder than it is. It’s actually quite easy: You just don’t tell them what to do.
If this seems foreign to you and your children, Camp Boredom is long overdue. You may have to say, “Nothing’s planned today. Go play!” If they look at you funny and ask for an iPad, then you say, “Welcome to Camp Boredom! We have only one rule: No screens.”
A world of boredom without screens is where the magic happens. Eventually, kids find something that truly interests them and their imagination takes over. We actually played Camp Boredom for two hours last night while I made dinner. My two older sons (without any instruction) got out their seashells from last summer and set up shell shops and started trading them. It was (almost) as beautiful as a trip to the beaches St. Simons Island. And it was FREE!
Now for those skills you really want your kids to learn but don’t want to pay a small fortune on or spend hours in the car chauffeuring them to, may I suggest:
This camp requires you, as Camp Director, to suspend your imagination, go a little crazy, look in the mirror and say, “My kid is not Michael Jordan.” Yes, it’s true. Not every kid is Michael Jordan. Chances are your kid is NOT going to master every sport or skill. Maybe instead of summer camp for superstars, all you need to do is give them a little exposure to the skill. For Camp Crazy, all you need is a trusted family member, neighbor or friend to play Camp Counselor and teach them the skill your child is truly yearning to learn.
Want to learn to swim better? Guess what? You don’t need to join the swim team. The neighbor next-door has a killer backstroke. I bet we can corner him in the community pool for a free lesson. Want to master more chess skills or hit a tennis ball? Love it. Turns out, Papa Miller can still move a rook and hit a ball too! Like to draw? Wait ’til you see what Grandma Miller can sketch! Want to build fantasy worlds with Legos? Cousin Tyler does too! Want to learn to code? Lucky you, you’re covered. Dad is a computer engineer and can teach you a thing or two. Let’s carve out some time on the weekend for you two to tinker.
Turns out, Camp Counselors are all around us. We just have to be a little bored and dream up the best camps you never heard of!
And when all else fails shoot for:
Drive, fly or ship your kids to the house with the most cousins in it. Trust me, no one will be bored!