The frenzy starts in January. Just as I’ve handed over my last dollar (and then some) for some holiday necessity or another, summer camp application season begins. Emails and texts pour in from friends trying to coordinate their kids’ camp and vacation schedules and arrange carpooling. I know of a guy who actually created an Excel document to keep track of his daughter’s camp schedule in addition to the summer plans of four of her closest friends! I don’t go that far, but I do have the camp and travel schedules of our best neighborhood friends scrawled on my calendar.
The most frantic parents are the ones with two kids who have signed only one child up for camp for a certain week, but have no plans for the other child. I completely understand the panic because I’ve been that parent. If there’s anything worse than having two kids at home with nothing to do, it’s having one kid home who’s used to being entertained by a sibling. It’s like a month of parenting crammed into five days and should be avoided at all costs if you value your sanity.
It doesn’t help matters if you live in an affluent neighborhood and your children have friends who come from families far wealthier than your own. Those are the kids who have their entire summer filled with horse camp, space camp, a sleep-away camp where they can raise llamas, drive Jet-skis and learn to program their own video games or any other place that sounds like kid nirvana. And, of course, they spend the last few weeks of school filling your kid in on every detail. Believe me, it’s not easy making an artsy-crafty day camp at the neighborhood park seem as exciting as a week of floating around in zero gravity.
If you’re not on-the-ball by February at the very latest, you’re pretty well screwed if you’re looking to get your kids into the “good” camps even if you are the proud owner of an offshore bank account. This deadline throws many moms and an occasional dad into a major tizzy but it’s really not a problem for me. There are two reasons for this: 1) We’re generally still broke in February, and 2) I’m rarely, if ever, on-the-ball. So, when summer eventually rolls around, Ad Man and I do our best to convince the girls of the epic awesomeness of any inexpensive camp that isn’t already full. It’s a damn good thing I’m a lawyer and he’s in advertising. I never imagined that skills learned in our professions would help us sell shit to our own children, but now I’m damn glad we’re both trained master manipulators.
But, here’s the thing…I want to go to camp! Why do the kids get to have all the fun? I’m the one who spent the past nine months making school lunches, getting my ass out of bed at the crack of dawn to get them on the bus, volunteering at school, helping create dioramas and science projects and successfully not murdering the children during their daily homework meltdowns. They’re young and creative…they should be able to come up with their own fun, right? I’m the one who’s old and jaded. I need a change of scenery, peace and quiet and plenty of wine to get all sunny and blissed out. And, actually, zero gravity doesn’t sound too bad either. Lord knows, my face could use a break from gravity for a while.
I don’t need color wars, a climbing wall or archery. I sure as hell don’t need to help take care of llamas. In fact, what I need is a couple weeks during which I don’t have to take care of any creature other than myself. I don’t want to cook a meal, referee an argument or remind anyone to go potty. I don’t want to have to figure out how to entertain two bored children when it’s 100 degrees out and everyone we know is out of town. I want to be the one who’s bored! Me! I want there to be nothing at all I have to do, not just nothing I want to do. No unmade beds, no dirty dishes, no laundry to fold and no one’s work and travel schedule to organize my life around.
I have, however, compiled a list of the things I do envision being part of my perfect Mom’s Summer Sleep-Away Camp:
- Each camper’s spouse or partner will be required to stay home so campers don’t have to spend a moment worrying about their children. If Ad Man has to work, he’ll need to figure out childcare his own damn self.
- The minimum session will be two weeks, though a four week session will be strongly encouraged in order for campers to reach maximum relaxation.
- The camp will be on a beach, but also have a seaside pool where lunch and luscious fruity cocktails will be served. Straight up hard liquor will be available the night before campers are scheduled to head home.
- The camp must be on an ocean (no trying to get away with some sand dumped next to a lake) somewhere that’s warm during the day but where it cools off enough at night for perfect sleeping conditions and bonfires on the beach.
- The location must be somewhere with no mosquitoes whatsoever.
- I will have my own butler who knows how I like my tea and who will apply sunblock and spray me with self-tanner every morning so I can maintain a lovely faux glow.
- There will be surfing lessons with handsome, young instructors. Each instructor will undergo extensive training during which he will be taught to refrain from uttering the word “ma’am” and to never, ever tell a camper that she reminds him of his mother.
- Men, other than similarly well-trained employees, and all children will be strictly forbidden.
- Spa services including mani/pedis, facials, massage and acupuncture will be available around the clock at no additional charge.
- No make-up will be allowed so one’s natural healthy glow may shine forth and so I don’t have to so much as look at an eyelash curler the entire time I’m there.
- The camp kitchen will serve delicious, healthy meals customized to each individual camper’s specific preferences. Campers will not have to prepare or make any decisions regarding food for the duration of their stay.
- Each camper will have her own private palapa on the beach with high thread count sheets and down comforters. The palapa pictured here should do just fine.
- My closest friends will, of course, join me at camp.
- Chai and breakfast will be delivered to me in bed every morning.
- Lunch, dinner and cocktails will be served poolside or on the beach, in the company of friends.
- The only forms of exercise allowed at camp will be walking on the beach, yoga, surfing, swimming, snorkeling and possibly ziplines because they sound like fun. Anyone caught doing crunches will be sent home immediately.
- There will be no internet connection and no cell phone service. I will have to fill MommyEnnui readers in on my adventure upon my reluctant return to reality.
- Campers will have access to lots of books and expensive foreign fashion and design magazines…you know, the ones you read in Barnes and Noble, but would never buy for yourself.
- There will be no waking before 8:30 am. Bedtime is at 11 pm, sharp.
- Each palapa will be stocked with wine and dark chocolate in case of late-night cravings.
- Dress while at camp will consist only of bikinis, floaty caftans and flip-flops. There will be no judgment of anyone wearing a bikini who wouldn’t dare ever do so in real life.
- In case of inclement weather, the new seasons of ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Call the Midwife’ will be available for binge-watching.
- Finally, and most importantly, the bill will be sent directly to my dad.
Who wants to join me?