Posted by: laughs4dads | July 7, 2010

Camp Cash-o-Rama

In 1977–just 33 years ago–tuition at Harvard for one year was $4,280.00.

I bring that up now because that’s slightly less than the average cost today of sleep-away camp.

Of course, at Harvard you had to add in the cost of room and board, books, lab fees and so forth, while the sleep-away camp is mostly all-inclusive, except for all the t-shirts you have to buy.

On the other hand, it’s sleep-away camp!

And I’ll tell you something else. While the average cost of seven weeks of sleep-away camp in New England is $4,340.00, there must be some parents sending their kids to Camp Cheapo, because I don’t know anyone who has gotten away with paying less than six grand.

Which just goes to show how much parents are willing to spend to get rid of their kids for the summer.

I, personally, have horrible memories of sleep-away camp. My parents sent me to Camp Monroe in upstate New York. This was around 1967. The camp rules that had probably been in place since the Truman administration said that kids had to arrive at camp with crew cuts, and my parents always followed the rules. Naturally, I was the only one at camp with a crew cut. And let me remind you, this was 1967. Crew cuts were not, shall we say, at the height of fashion.

As you can imagine, I was teased unmercifully. So much so, even my rapier wit couldn’t help make me any friends.

On visiting day, I begged my parents to take me home, but they refused, because they had paid for the whole summer. So I did what I had to do.

I ran away from camp.

I had a plan, sort of. I left after breakfast but before morning bed check to give myself maximum lead time, not to mention a meal. I went out the back way, through the woods, avoiding the guard at the front gate. I stayed to the side of the road. I was going to hike into the town of Monroe. That was as far as my plan went. From there, I might call my parents, or stowaway on a bus, or hitchhike to California, or join the circus. I really hadn’t thought it through. I didn’t get too far anyway, as I was picked up by camp personnel about a mile from the camp. I’m still not sure how they found me. Perhaps the fact that I was stupid enough to wear my Camp Monroe t-shirt had something to do with it.

My daughter’s sleep-away experience was very different. We sent her to Bucks Rock Camp in Connecticut. It was an art camp. Instead of swimming and hiking and baseball, they had painting, and jewelry making and glass blowing. And photography, dance, improvisation, music, textiles, and more. (Since you’re wondering, no, there were no inter-camp competitions.)

Bucks Rock was a life-changing experience for Casey. It was the first time she had been among her own kind…kids for whom “being popular” had about as much appeal as being waterboarded…kids who wore odd clothing and had tremendous talent, and displayed hair colors that do not exist in the natural world.

Casey blossomed there.

So what’s my point? Well, look, Harvard costs a lot more than $4,280.00 these days, and, chances are, your kid’s not going to get in anyway.

So send them to camp. And enjoy your vacation.

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