Pour Your Heart Out: Camp Isn’t a Bad Thing

A camp day means kid-free time.

At least, that’s the flip response to sending my kids off to spend part of the day elsewhere.

And maybe it’s said with a little bit of relief.

But not because I hate my kids and don’t want to spend time with them. I’m not actually counting down until they go back to school in the fall(not yet, anyway).

I will admit that it IS easier to get my work done when they are at camp. Being a work-at-home mom is always a hard balance and even harder during the summer. I manage when they are home, but yeah, it’s easier when they are elsewhere.

It might be nice to say well, gee, they’re only kids for such a short time, I’m going to spend every precious second with them. But some of us can’t put jobs on hold for the summer.

Honestly, even if work weren’t an issue…

My kids go to camp because they like it.

They’ve gone to basketball camp and Vacation Bible School so far this summer. They have gymnastics camp coming up next week. And more to come.

They get to try new activities or get practice with things they want to get better at(or they learn about Jesus- my boys need Jesus).

My boys get to spend time with friends- meeting new ones or seeing ones from school- AND that means spending time with someone other than each other. Too much togetherness means they start grating on each other’s nerves. Camp helps with that.

They want to go to camp. It’s fun for them and I’m so proud of how they are growing up and becoming more independent, wanting to try things without me holding their hands.

It’s not every single week that they go to camp- I spaced out their camps so there’s a balance between them being home and being gone. That’s both so they have some downtime and because sending three kids to camp every single week gets pricey.

We go to the pool and the park,  we’ll eventually get to the beach if it ever stops raining here, we have movie nights, do crafts and science experiments, play games, read, visit friends and family, bake, and more.

We do tons of things together.

This summer is flying by. So I totally understand when people talk about embracing the summer with their kids and making sure to really enjoy it since time passes so quickly and our kids get to be grown faster than we’re ready for. I’ve read some absolutely lovely posts about just that over the past few weeks. And I read them nodding my head in agreement.

But some people take a lovely sentiment and decide to get up on the soapbox of the superior parent:

smug facebook post

Which made me lose my live-and-let-live, everyone-parents-their-own-way-no-big-deal-to-me attitude and want to go on a facebook rant. I didn’t because it was only in my feed since a friend had commented on this status- not because I was friends with the person who did- from what I can tell, I’m so far removed from this person that she’s a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of mine(or something like that).

And while I don’t usually condone facebook rants or calling out someone else’s parenting decisions… when someone says “For all the parents who…” it means they aren’t just saying what they do and what works for them, they think that they are doing it right and the rest of us are doing it wrong.

So I’m taking a moment to not be the bigger person and to get up on a soapbox of my own. Not all of us have the luxury of being able to plan our lives so that we can actually enjoy each precious summer of childhood together. Or actually, maybe some of us don’t think we have to be with our kids every single second in order to enjoy the summer together. Kids can actually have fun without us… and we don’t have to feel guilty about that.

But, whether you are with your child every single day this summer or  you send them to camp some of the time or the majority of the time- you can still enjoy the summer as a family and create wonderful memories for your kids.

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  1. says

    I do think we should spend time with our kids.
    I also think we should spend time without our kids. Whether it’s them at camp, or parents on a child-free vacation. Some time away is a good thing. It gives everyone a chance to be independent, learn new things, make new friends, to miss each other, to appreciate each other more.
    Nothing wrong with that at all. 
    I like when you get on your soap box occasionally. :)
    Alison recently posted..Finding My Way Back To MyselfMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I couldn’t help myself this time. 

      That time without our kids is good for both parents and kids. And it’s totally different from never wanting to be around our kids. I’m so glad you get it. 

    • Shell says

      That’s why it hit me the wrong way- it sounded like she was making a mass judgement instead of just talking about what worked for her. 

      I have good memories of going to camp, too. 

  2. says

    I am so with you on this. I am shocked at that Facebook post! What a sanctimonious, judgmental thing to put out to all your friends (and even those who aren’t your friends, as evidenced by the fact that you happened upon it). Why can’t moms just be nice to each other and realize that we are all different, and we’re all just doing the best we can.
    Mamarific recently posted..10 Signs That It’s Summer in TexasMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Seeing this fb post made me realize that anything anyone puts out there can end up being seen by anyone, so it’s best to be careful about choice of words. 

      And YES- that’s exactly how I feel (despite writing this post which basically says I think that mom is wrong. Oops)

  3. says

    I am in complete agreement with you. My kids LOVE the camps they go to. Right now, this week, all 3 kids are in scout camp. My daughter got to try paddle boarding for the first time, spend time with her best friend and make new friends. My boys are earning merit badges, learning new skills and gaining independence. In a few weeks my 1 son will be going to baseball camp, the other soccer and my daughter chose another week of Girl Scout Camp. We still have plenty if time together, a vacation planned and loads of fun. It’s not about other parents and what they think is right or works for their family. It’s all about what feels right for your family. This is what works for us.
    Beth recently posted..The Music Man Singing Ice Cream ShoppeMy Profile

    • Shell says

      It sounds like they are having a blast. I would love to try paddle boarding myself! For my boys, they too are getting to try things that I just can’t do with them. They love the new experiences. 

  4. says

    Blah. I keep trying to make memories with my kids. I have about a 60% success rate as far as whether or not they want to do the activities that *I* plan for them. But my son going to camp? He LOVES that. So whoever said that can just suck my big toe.
    Teresa recently posted..An Interview with SqueakerMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I’m glad he’s enjoying it! It’s hit or miss with my kids as well- there have been things I thought they’d love that they don’t and then things I thought were lame that they ended up still talking about weeks later. 

  5. says

    I’m laughing because this week I hired three new babysitters to help cover some work-from-home time, and my girls LOVED it. They seriously told me to “go downstairs to your desk now, Mom” as soon as the sitters arrived, then they cried when it was time for them to go. So while I am really trying to absorb every ounce of togetherness out of this summer, sometimes the time apart is healthy for us all.
    Becky Kopitzke recently posted..It’s Not a Yawn, It’s a HiccupMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Oh, I love it! I think the important thing is that our kids are being well taken care of. 

  6. says

    In proof that I might also need a little more Jesus, my first response was, “I’ll bet your kids, at least the 11 year old, don’t WANT to spend every breath with you!” (Meaning anonymous FB person, not you of course.)

    In all seriousness, that was a pretty sanctimonious thing for her to say. Ugh.

    Also? I adored day camps (and my few sleepover camps) as a kid. I send my kids to the few I can afford.
    Angela recently posted..Dare Me – A ReviewMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Oh girl- had I been able to comment on that fb post when I saw it (I couldn’t- I really don’t get that, fb- if I can see when a friend comments on a post that I’m not connected to, I should be able to comment… or I shouldn’t be able to see it. Anyway…) had I commented in that moment, I would have needed to stay with my boys for VBS, b/c it would have shown that I needed Jesus, too. 😉 

      I loved camp as well. The funny is that I had been feeling a little bad about not sending mine to more. Even when we find reasonably priced ones, by the time I multiply that fee by 3, it makes me cringe and sometimes have to say nope. 

  7. says

    I think you’ve got a healthy balance going on in your family with home time and camps. Kids need to be away from their parents AND their siblings. I so agree with you. Then when they’re home they appreciate the time with family so much more. I stopped listening to the judgy people and now tune them out. Only WE know what is best for our kids. Great post!
    Bruna from Bees with Honey recently posted..the key to mama’s heartMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I think it’s great for building independence in kids. And it makes for a more peaceful home because they aren’t fighting each other as much if they get breaks from each other. 

  8. says

    I too have fond memories of camp as a child. It’s sounds like your kids are getting a good mixture of camp and fun home time.  Every family and every family situation is different. Blanket statements like the one from facebook never end in a good way.  Its so important for families just to do what works for them and not be concerned with how others choose to do things.  It sounds like you have a really good grasp of that.
    Jo Lynn recently posted..Special Needs Parenting Is Hard, and Its Ok to Say SoMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Any time anyone tries to make a blanket statement about parenting, it really drives me crazy b/c I don’t think there  are any that really fit everyone. Except extremes like you need to feed your kids. Or don’t abuse your child. 

      Wait. I think I’m making a blanket statement. 😉 

  9. says

    It’s funny, but with the toddler going to daycare, there were a couple of times I had at least 1 day off at work and still took her to daycare just so I can enjoy it to myself. I know it’s not the same, but since she was okay going to daycare, I didn’t feel guilty not spending “precious” time with her. 

    You are doing good mama.
    Mama and the City recently posted..Red Is For Canada: Drinks, Fruit and Animals?My Profile

    • Shell says

      She was still getting to have fun- and stick to her routine. And moms need time to themselves, too! 

  10. says

    Oh I needed this today. My daughter is at camp this summer, all day every day until August because I still work partly out of the house. And I’ve been feeling guilty about that – partly on my own and partly because I’m getting intoxicated by all of the posts about living it up with kids this summer. I’d love to not send her to camp but our family just can’t make that happen right now. And you are so right – we are making lovely summer memories and she is gaining so much by being with friends and doing the camp thing. 
    Tricia recently posted..Spending money on myself for othersMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I keep reminding myself of just how hard it is to work from home when they are here. AND you know what? They aren’t getting to do a ton on the days they are home and I’m working- it’s often iPads and tv so they can stay entertained and I can still focus on work. 

      We’re still making good memories for our kids. I think this woman forgot that not every happy childhood memory has to revolve around being with mom. And that we can still make memories with us even if we aren’t with them every second of the day.

  11. says

    Mine children, too, LOVE camp. They’ve done VCS, The Boy has done basketball camp and The Girl is currently doing Riding Camp. Every day they come home in the car jabberring away…. LOVE it may be an understatement. Usually I do plan for them to go at the same time, because you are right, the alone time IS nice, but this year it didn’t work out that way, so I’ve had them each for a week alone and while I don’t get time alone, I so rarely get one-on-one time that this is nice too!

    The high-handedness of that facebook rant makes me wonder if that mom can’t afford to send her kids to camp and that’ why she was so venomous about it… like maybe there is more to it than just “I should savor all my time with my kids”

    And the rain, yeah, DONE with that.
    Single Mom in the South recently posted..If You’re Happy and You Know It…My Profile

    • Shell says

      Oh, one-on-one time is so awesome! It’s rare around here, too. I love when I get it. 

      Reading the whole fb thread(I didn’t post the whole thing b/c it would have taken me off on a tangent) had me thinking she probably did have the means to just drop everything and be with her kids, so she most likely could send them to camp if she wanted. It rubbed me the wrong way because I was thinking well, gee, if I dropped everything for my kids this summer(meaning took a three month break from my job), you know what I’d get to do with my kids? Sit in the house and do absolutely nothing, because we wouldn’t be able to afford to do anything. 

      I really don’t remember a rainier summer. I’m hoping we get a break soon! 

      • says

        Most people can’t just drop everything. I can, but it’s also my only time to get things done without work as well, so it’s nice to find a balance of both: time I get to spend with them AND time I get to myself!

        Weather looking hot and dry for next week… as long as it is while we’re at the beach in August, I’ll be happy! :-)
        Single Mom in the South recently posted..If You’re Happy and You Know It…My Profile

  12. says

    It is wonderful to spend time together as a family. But not all parents have the entire summer off. Responsibility and work do not always coincide with the school schedule. Also, not all families want to spend all day, every day at home during the summer. Camp is fun and a chance to get out with friends and make new ones – and that is one of the best parts of summer.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..I am Sorry, FortyMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Exactly- not all of us can afford to stop working just because our kids have off for the summer. 

      I have fond memories of camp as a child and I know my boys are feeling that same way.

  13. says

    Ugh, some people like to lord their holier than thou attitude over others. I think that my kids would go crazy (just as I would) being together every minute of every day. They need to have their own experiences with kids their own age. I work full-time outside the home – so summer camp is a necessity for both kids. They having swimming, Lego building, puppet shows, athletic activities, art, photography and a ton of other incredible experiences – ones that I could never give them in an entire summer, let alone one day at camp!
    Debra recently posted..Surfs Up! #Teen Beach Movie Shakes Up Some Summer FunMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Too much togetherness in my house means everyone gets cranky. And yes, camp lets my kids do things that I could never do with them!

  14. says

    Oh my goodness. You and I are so on the same page. I wish I was one of those moms who could organize all kinds of awesome stuff to do at home, and could keep my kids from killing each other, but I’m not. We are all so much happier when we have some space, period. I also have to say, that all of my kids are different. My oldest could, in theory, stay with me all the time, but my younger three need way more variety. But you know what, after pregnancy, nursing, co-sleeping, and baby wearing for almost 14 years straight, anyone who questions my commitment to my children just because I like to get rid of them periodically, really is just on a completely different planet than I am.
    Shannon@MishmashMama recently posted..Her Light Could Not Be ContainedMy Profile

    • Shell says


      Our kids can’t be with us all the time. Mine love the variety that camp gives them. And they are nicer to each other when they have time apart.

  15. says

    I used to have a person like that in my everyday life. Every time I ran into her, she would ask me what was going on in my life and then when I told her, she would turn it into an opportunity to instruct me in how I could be more like her.

    Summer is for freestyling. More points for doing it with your own style.

    Thanks for pouring out your precious heart.
    Maggie S. recently posted..Saturday SynopsisMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Ugh! I had someone like that in my life a few years ago and she used to drive me totally crazy. I wanted to hand her my kids for the day and tell her to come back and let me know if she still has the same opinion after just one day with my three instead of just her one.

  16. says

    You wanna know the only parents I judge? The ones who judge OTHER PARENTS.  The ones who think their way is the only right way.  The ones who think different = wrong.
    Eff them.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with what you are doing for your boys!
    cyndy recently posted..Cancer Sucks, Friends Rock. {PYHO}My Profile

    • Shell says

      Yup, I totally judge them, too. Which I probably shouldn’t do, but I can’t help it!

    • Shell says

      Oh, that’s so fun! Such a great way to still be able to keep working while on vacation!

  17. says

    Yes!  Anytime anyone makes a blanket statement like that you know they are judging– good for them for doing that, but to each their own.  We all know what is best for our kids, our family, and ourselves (except for a the few truly awful parents out there– I was a DCFS worker), so yes good for them for doing what they think is best, but shame on them for judging others. 
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    • Shell says

      Blanket statements truly do make me cringe.

      I bet you saw some truly awful things as a DCFS worker. Those are the cases where we can use those absolutes, but in the day to day, we should all live and let live.

  18. says

    Ugh… I simply hate it when this happens. I am with you Shell! Camp ROCKS- as my kids are there now so I can read this without interruption!! They love it. I love them. Life is fulfilling as a mom with camps and family time and special moments- period. Our kids are blessed because of it.
    Chris Carter recently posted..True Joy…My Profile

    • Shell says

      Yes- them getting to experience so much(whether it’s home or camp) and knowing they are loved- that’s what’s important.

  19. says

    YES YES YES!!!! I love this. my kids have never went to camp…simply because we can’t afford it. But I agree that you can have an enjoyable summer and not spend every single minute with your kids. And honestly I like when my kids are gone for a few days at someones house or something. It gives me a break and it also gives me a chance to  catch up on work. Does this mean I don’t like my kids or don’t like being around them? NO IT DOES NOT. It means I’m a human woman and need a break every now and then and the kids need to change of pace too.

    Anna Hettick recently posted..Embracing the Mess | Pour Your Heart OutMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Exactly. We need a break and they enjoy the time away!

      We’re lucky around here that our camps are much less expensive than what I’ve seen friends in other parts of the country talking about. My jaw dropped seeing some of those. I complain b/c I have to pay camp fees x3 for all my boys to attend, but it seems that what I’m paying for 3 to go is still way cheaper than what it costs to send one child in other places. Totally crazy.

    • Shell says

      Thanks! 😉

      And yes, exactly- my boys are at camp this morning, so I can focus on getting things done. When they get home, I will put work away. When they are home all day with no camp, they definitely can’t have my full attention.

  20. says

    Here’s my two cents – when I was growing up, my parents had to work so I didn’t see them anyway, but they didn’t put us in Summer Camp. We sat around bored or roamed the neighborhood with friends. I am fine with that. My older sister says we were not given enough encouragement because we weren’t in camps. Now that I have a son, he has always attended daycare because I have to work outside the home. This summer he was old enough for day camp rather than daycare and he wanted to do it. There are days when he’s too tired and I ask him if he wants daycare again and of course he doesn’t. In the evenings or on the weekends I am with my son non-stop and we are both ready for Monday morning when it gets here. It’s all in perspective and who knows what my son will think when he grows up. Maybe I keep him too busy or maybe I don’t let him experience enough on his own. We are all just doing the best with what we have at the moment. What is the point of judging each other when it won’t matter when the kids are grown and have a different perspective anyway. Those kids who have the mom who adjust her schedule never get to experience camp and they may resent her for that some day…who knows?! And…there’s my soapbox… :)
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  21. says

    LOVE this. Esp that line about “not being the bigger person.” There is a lot to be said for time spent away from parents to learn. There is also a lot of research that proves that time away and independent is so important. Not that I think that time together isn’t precious…BUT…I know when I don’t get a “kid break” to do work I just end up trying to do work while they are around, clamoring for my attention, and that isn’t good for ANYONE. I would like to think that I embrace all my time with my kids but I also know that I embrace it more when I am not feeling resentful and they aren’t going bonkers from boredom.
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    • Shell says

      Agreed. That time IS precious- but it doesn’t mean that we have to be together 24/7. :)

  22. says

    Ya, know…some people….My personal view on this is that some parents are fanatical about “togetherness” almost to the point that it’s a compulsion.  I don’t know if it’s a competitive thing or a perfectionist thing or that they have to feel like they are better at “enjoying every moment” more than everyone else..but…we all need autonomy.  I need it.  My kids need it.  And whether or not I’m working, a little  time away is healthy.   I write this while all of my kids sleep at a friend’s house so that I can get a few things done here  – and I  am loving every moment :)
    Ilene recently posted..Ordinary WorldMy Profile

    • Shell says

      It annoys me so much when moms act like they must be the better mom because they never spend a moment away from their kids.

      Glad you got to have some quiet time!

  23. says

    Everything is better with balance. You have found yours, and that is a great thing!

    People need to stay out of other people’s parenting decisions. We all have to do the best we can with what we are given, and sometimes that includes camp (and, hey, camp is a LOT of fun!). 
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    • Shell says

      It really is so much fun! Right now, my boys are at pirate camp- with water play and gymnastics. How cool is that? :)

  24. says

    Superior facebook parents drive me batty.  I have done summer both ways.  Last summer my kids were in camp or VBS almost every week I could sign them up for one.  I was nine months pregnant and did not feel even a little bit guilty about dropping them off everyday!  This summer, other then a week of VBS, we are spending the whole summer together.  I love it both ways!  There is a season for everything.  Some seasons you need camps and other seasons you need to be with your kids for every precious moment and no other parent can tell you what is right in your season.  
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  25. says

    I do think that it’s a balance of both – spending time with our kids and spending time alone without our kids. I was feeling guilty because my kids started camp right after school let out whereas other families were taking vacation or letting the kids stay home for a week or two. But my kids like going to camp and to school. I think that they get so much more out of it than they would if they were home all the time. I think that they have a more enriching experience than I could necessarily offer them, you know? Plus, we’re going to be spending the last month all together on a family vacation. I too like when you get on your soapbox :-)
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  26. says

    The world isn’t the same as it used to where you can be all day with your child and have the best summers ever!! Also, kids need to get out and interact and be kids!! They need the social skills and mom & dad need the time to get things done. I swear! And you’re definitely the bigger person – that person’s remark just shows that they really aren’t happy with their situation and are trying to mask it and make others feel bad – that’s what it really sounds like to me.
    Krystal recently posted..More than just a princessMy Profile

    • Shell says

      It is good for them to be able to interact- and for the time apart!

      I have no idea what this person’s real motives are, since this is the first and only time I’ve ever seen anything from her. She might be a lovely person and I’m just being cranky because that one comment rubbed me the wrong way. Who knows!

  27. says

    My kids LOVE going to camps, I don’t just send them so I can get some free time. (Although the free time is quite nice.) They learn new things and so many more experiences than I can give them during the summer because I have to work. Plus, my kids are at those ages when they can’t possibly spend every minute together without trying to kill each other…so this gives them their own time as well!
    Stacey recently posted..Confessions of an Imperfect Mommy: July EditionMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Yes! It’s not about me(or at least, not just about me). My boys WANT to go to camp. They were so excited to head off this morning. It would be different if they hated going and I was just forcing them to so that I could have quiet time.

  28. says

    I am so in agreement with you!  I can’t stand it when people soapbox about how wonderful they are as parents and that those of us that do it differently are somehow beneath them.  That is why having a Mommy Blog is so wonderful!  We can rant to a much bigger audience and make a much bigger splash than those Facebook-ranters!  And by the way, I think sending kids to camp is a great way to give them experiences they can’t get at home.  If we could afford it, we would do the same thing, so don’t fret.  You are doing it right.  :)
    Kelly Wymer recently posted..Echo’s Dog VacationMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Thank you. :) I’ve been complaining about how much camp costs, but it seems it’s much cheaper here than in other parts of the country.

  29. says

    Doesn’t look like anyone commenting disagrees with you, and neither do I. We don’t send our kids to a bunch of things, but to some things. Even when we’re all home, we’re often doing our own things. Then we come together and do things. It’s just all a matter of balance. 
    just JENNIFER recently posted..SOC: The Coming WeekMy Profile

    • Shell says

      That’s so true- at home, it’s not like we stay on top of each other, all doing the same thing, all day long. We retreat to different rooms and then come back together again.

    • Shell says

      Mine were so excited to head to camp this morning- they’ve been looking forward to it! That really helps with my perspective on it.

  30. says

    I saw this post, as well. It was in response to one of my blog posts that a friend shared. I don’t know if you saw this person’s follow-up comment, but she, herself, does send her kids to camp. Several camps, it sounds like, but she seems to try to break it up with family time. So I think that although her initial response came off in a certain way, it was more in context with my post about having my daughter home for the summer and the changes that come with it and how time tends to fly in so many ways. I don’t know her, so I can’t speak to what she does or doesn’t do, but I did want to let you know that she did clarify some. Facebook is tricky this way, when they share things that are posted by others, etc. you don’t always get the full picture and it stinks. I can totally get why this comment triggered a reaction in you, but I hope my follow up puts your mind at ease some about this particular commenter!
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    • Shell says

      I’m glad that she did clarify. And I didn’t mean to bash her in particular- the thought behind it, yes(and it’s one I’ve heard/seen from numerous other moms, not just her- I did use her post as a jumping off point, but did make sure to black out any distinguishing features so that it wasn’t calling her out). I totally disagree with the post she wrote- and it made me think a lot about what I put out there- knowing how easily someone who doesn’t know me can see a comment like that and take it the wrong way.

      Your post, I thought was completely lovely, which is why I think the comment on it totally threw me for a loop b/c I didn’t get that judgemental vibe from you at all.

      I hope you understand why I wrote this post.