Friday, July 31, 2009


My kids have been attending camp at the local zoo this week. First, we love the zoo, though we know it so well by now that there are few to no surprises. So I think we thought ZooCamp would give us a peek inside at something we've never seen before. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. It's just a camp that happens to take place at the zoo. They don't really get an inside look behind the scenes, or learn to be zookeepers or anything like that.

My 10 year old daughter is doing fine, but my 7 year old son is not as happy. I think he expected more. Right now, he's at his tennis class, which he prefers to ZooCamp. I'll pick him up in 15 minutes and bring him to camp for the last day.

So I am a bit underwhelmed by ZooCamp and happy as usual with the camp the kids have been attending the rest of the summer. Maybe it's my cautious/transition-disliking kids, but I am happier with a camp where there is more continuity. The camp run at the school across the street offers my kids a familiar set of friends and counselors and activities. There are new people every summer, but not the constant barrage of change.

I know many parents during the summer ferry kids from soccer camp to baseball camp to art camp to zoo camp--a different camp every week or two. Obviously, this works best for the parents/kids or they wouldn't do it, but in my pessimistic, half-empty-glass sort of way, I can't help wondering what is lost when we send kids to a different camp every week. They learn to make friends in one-week increments, then move on. There's no community. What is the chance that we will have playdates with the friend S made in ZooCamp? She lives in TownofCorruption, a good 20-30 minute drive away. I've never met her parents. On the other hand, at the camp across the street, S has made friends with H. H is not in her school (she's in the other elementary school in our town) but they girls will see each other again in middle school in a year. We might even set up a playdate or two; I can meet her parents more easily. S worked diligently for days on a birthday present (a friendship bracelet/necklace thing) for H. She can't build that kind of connection with someone from ZooCamp.

Exposing kids to new things is nice, but I guess I lean more toward deepening and building on what's already there. Maybe it's because I lack deep relationships in this community because I didn't grow up here.

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