Edgy Mama: The summer-camp scramble

I’m scared I might be the Bill Buckner of parental organization.

I’ve watched a few critical balls roll right between my legs, just like the ill-fated Boston Red Sox first baseman did in 1986. But I haven’t totally blown the World Series of parenting. At least not yet.

That’s the thing about parenting—the pressure’s always on to do what’s best for your kid. It is adulthood’s major league.

Last winter, I fumbled the kindergarten-application process by forgetting to apply to send my youngest to school. The issue wasn’t whether my boy would be able to go to kindergarten, but whether there was still an open spot at his sister’s school.

On the Friday night when I realized that every other 5-year-old in the city had received a school assignment in the mail, I started chasing that ball. I spent the evening leaving impassioned “I’m an idiot, please let my kid go to Dickson next year” messages on various city-school officials’ voice mails. I accosted Dickson’s principal the next morning as she hit the YWCA for what she probably thought would be a relaxing swim.

The city-school team let my son attend his sister’s school in the end, despite his mother’s ineptitude.

In my daughter’s case, I mailed in an application in August for a spot at an overnight camp in July 2008. But that ball got away, too.

I never went to overnight camp, though I longed to. I remember being jealous of my friends who did. Therefore, I really want to give that experience to my kids, an experience that I imagine is full of camaraderie, campfires, silly pranks and budding independence. So, when my eldest expressed interest in overnight camp last summer, I started looking into options.

That’s when I learned that Western North Carolina is the mecca of summer camps, particularly overnight ones. These camps attract kids from all over the country and the world, I’m told.

My girl and I spent a couple hours online looking at Web sites. I talked to friends who’ve sent their kidlings to camp. Then I applied to an all-girls camp for her that seemed to be everything she (and I) wanted.

Almost two months later, we got the news that she’s been wait-listed. I called the director, who told me that my application arrived a little after the deadline, and other people’s parents had FedExed their paperwork to arrive exactly on deadline. There’s a possibility my girl will get in, but it’s slim.

So now I’m scrambling again, trying to pick up the ball and get it home in time. I’m applying to send her to every camp I come across, plopping down hundreds of dollars in deposits in a desperate attempt to find her a spot.

I had no clue that getting my kid into camp would be this difficult. Next thing you know, we’ll have to apply to send kids to camp when they’re in utero, like I hear has happened at nursery schools in New York City.

Yesterday, a postcard arrived inviting my daughter to movie night at the camp where she’d just been wait-listed. I called the camp to ask why, if there’s a wait list as long as my front porch, they would entice young girls to watch fun-filled movies when those girls have no chance of attending the camp. My girl is already heart-sore about not getting in. Now they want to pour peroxide in her wound?

The answer I got is that the camp still wants to keep in touch with potential campers’ families. But they appreciated my feedback. They hadn’t thought about the effect the invite might have on the wait-listed kids. In other words, they just realized that they might’ve let a grounder roll between their legs.

So this week I’m working, like the Red Sox, to undo the Buckner curse. Somehow, I’ll get my girl into a great summer camp in 2008.

I’ll never be the Hank Aaron of parental organization, but I won’t stop trying. This is the major league, after all.

Anne Fitten Glenn is a freelance writer based in Asheville. She covers a number of topics (including parenting) on her blog, www.EdgyMama.com.

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One thought on “Edgy Mama: The summer-camp scramble

  1. ND

    Yep, know whatcha mean. We, too had to play ketchup to get little brother into Dickson. It didn’t help that both Mom and I are “out-of-district.” And yes, big sis had been attending for years! Alida has my gratitude for championing our causes.

    Hey, glad to have met you at Chuck E. Cheese, even though I must admit I was itchin’ to get outta there. It wasn’t the sensory overload; it was the money! It costs me about $40 per hour to be there if I want to ensure that my kids go home with more than 10 cents worth of prizes. It blows my mind that places like Chuck’s and Fun Depot can “sell” prizes for a penny and still make 1000% profit. Aww nevermind… the kids had a great time; therefore so did I. Anything else matter?

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