We are in a Polar Vortex now, yet our park distract just sent out their camp schedule already. I am forced to contemplate how the kids and I will spend our summer. It’s nice to daydream about the long hot days while in an icy prison, but planning camps and activities isn’t quite daydreaming. It’s a bit frustrating.
Last summer, I was astonished to see that the parks were nearly empty wherever we went. Everybody was in camp. My kids had nobody to play with unless I scheduled playdates or sent them to camp. I did a little of both of course, but I have visions of a more unstructured summer. These visions have led me to the idea of an “uncamp”. An uncamp would be parent organized while the kids are younger, but eventually, we’d create a community of like-minded families that would allow their kids a chunk of unstructured time over the summer. Camps are wonderful and the choices of specialties now are impressive, but I think kids also get an education by going out, working together, and engaging with the world on their own terms. When the kids are a bit older our kids can leave after breakfast, jump on their bikes and go explore the neighborhood together. As it stands now, I feel like any kids venturing out in the neighborhood would be sadly riding their bike around alone. Some of my most vivid memories of childhood are of riding bikes around with friends. We explored, rode to the beach, rigged up strange contraptions and pulled each other. I want my kids to have the opportunity to do the same.
So what would this Uncamp look like if I could organize it this summer? Parents would take turns being in charge of a day. It would be fairly stress-free because the time would be unstructured, allowing the kids to exercise their imagination along with their muscles. Possible locations could be the beach, a great park with lots of open field and trees, or a forest preserve. The kids would bring their lunch, a snack, and throw in a rainbow loom for some quiet crafting after lunch. Done. The parent in charge would only be responsible for safety. They wouldn’t need to suggest games or organize activities. That’s the job of a kid. Let them dig in the dirt, make a stick doll, sit on a tree branch and observe the world for 20 minutes, or make up a new version of tag.
So I just need some families who are interested. Let me know what you think. Send me a note and I’ll make it happen. There is no logistical hurdle that we can’t figure out.