Sleepaway Camp Is a Really Dumb Idea -- Unless You Hate Your Kids

Another school year's come and gone. Another hot, sunny summer is upon us. For kids, that's pure paradise.

Summer means tons of free time to hang out with friends. It means trips to the beach with the family, playing baseball with dad in the backyard, or helping mom out in the garden. Of course, for some kids it means packing up a suitcase and getting shipped off for a few months to sleepaway camp.

No parents. No pets. No neighbors. Just a long time away from mom and dad under the supervision of some stranger. Personally, I just don't get it.


I'm not a fan of camp in general; it's just not my thing. I can certainly understand the need for sending your kids to a day camp if both parents are working. But I will never understand why any parent would want to send their kids away to sleepaway camp for months at a time in the summer. I don't even mean teenagers. I'm talking about parents of kids in first, second, or third grade.

Is it so mom and dad can go take a cruise in the Caribbean without any kids? Is it just so they'll have some peace and quiet? Some alone time?

I became a parent so I could be ... a parent. I want to be with my kids. I want to spend time with them, not ship them off for a number of weeks. They grow up so incredibly fast as it is. There'll be plenty of "alone time" when they're off in college.

"But the kids love it? They have so much fun!" Yeah, I can hear you. Settle down. I'm sure there are kids who love it. Just like there are kids who probably can't wait to get out of their house and off to camp just so they can be away from their parents for the summer. But for those that truly do enjoy it, were they like that on day one of their first year? Or did they just learn to accept it at first and then slowly grow to enjoy it?

And then there's the food. Everyone I've talked to that sends their kids to sleepaway camp says the food is terrible. Their kids say it's awful. The skinny ones don't eat and lose a ton of weight, while the heavier campers just eat carbs all day and come back 10 pounds heavier. That's not even bad parenting, it's "no parenting." Letting young kids just choose whatever they want to eat all summer is a recipe for failure.

As far as I'm concerned, the only good to ever come out of sleepaway camp is Bill Murray's classic comedy Meatballs. Any other reason is just an excuse to put parenting on hold for a few months.

Do you send your kids to sleepaway camp?

Image via Steven Depolo/Flickr

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