The Summer Camp Blog
Musings on camp and education that are both entertaining and informative, offering a great reminder of what camp is all about and why the summer camp experience is so important for our kids.
Vinny Alexander, the Chair of the Performing Arts Department at The Harvey School for the past 12 years, has been actively involved with the Harvey Cavalier Summer Camp for more than 20 years. He assumed the role of camp director this past summer, following in the footsteps of his mentor and friend, Chris Del Campo, who started the Harvey Cavalier Camp in 1996.
We hope you enjoy his musings!
I recently came across a blog article titled, “Why Children Need Camp Now More Than Ever,” essentially a list of social/emotional needs that have been neglected due to the pandemic. The article explains, in the most scholarly way, why children have suffered for the last 13 months and how camp can help ease children back into an educational setting and ultimately childhood. And while it is hard to take exception to the tenets on the list, I couldn’t help but wonder if parents really need an article like this? Do they really need to be reminded that their kids crave social interaction and physical activity? Do parents really need to be reminded of the importance of unstructured play? Do parents really need to be reminded of dynamic teacher/student moments that are critical to a young person’s development and education?
Let’s face it. Parents do not need direction from doctors, psychologists, and educators to know that it is time to get their youngsters out of the house. It is kind of obvious. And not just for the mental health and well-being of their children but also for their health and sanity. Camp is just as necessary for parents as it is for campers.
The Domestic Landscape
In the current domestic landscape of unmade beds, piling laundry, open laptops, and kitchen tables doing triple duty as home office, one-room schoolhouse, and family eatery, parents need to return to a situation where children are educated, socialized, and cared for outside of the home so that they can, in fact, get back to work, socialize, care for themselves, and maybe even clean inside and outside the house. I did say “maybe.”
The typical day now involves at least one parent serving as teacher, playmate, short order cook, while at the same time working and parenting. Isn’t it time parents send the kids off to camp so that they can talk on the phone without interruption? Wouldn’t it be great to take off the pajamas pants, get dressed, and go to -- I don’t know -- maybe Starbucks? Wouldn’t it be nice, if only for six weeks, that the day would seem somewhat normal? These reasons are just as good as the reasons that kids need camp. Yeah, educationally speaking, “Blah, Blah, Blah.” “Socially it is important…..” Yeah, we know. Just get them out of the house. It makes sense for children, and it really makes sense for adults.
Who Really Needs Camp?
An article posted on Fortune.com says, “The only constant these days about working parenthood—and especially working motherhood, as moms shoulder these pandemic burdens disproportionately — is that it’s harder than ever.” The effects of the pandemic on children are clear, but we cannot ignore the effects on families. A summer camp program can help alleviate some of the strain as parents plan for the future.
As an educator for more than 30 years and a parent of three former campers, I can certainly talk about the social, emotional, and educational benefits of camp. Harvey’s Summer Camp provides all of those elements with the strength of over 100 years of educational history and experience. We have been recognized by The Westchester County Department of Health for our approach to ensuring the health and safety of our campers. We were open last summer and ran a safe and engaging program. We just want to be honest. Kids do need camp now more than ever, but so do parents.