Monday, August 16, 2010

Camp at (Someone Else's) Home

I love summer vacation. And the only thing better than summer vacation is being able to take a week-long vacation at the beginning of the summer vacation. And the only thing better than taking a vacation at the beginning is being able to take another vacation at the end of summer vacation. In other words, I pretty much live for the word "vacation."

Due to the fact that the last couple months have consisted of nothing but tennis, swimming, more tennis, more swimming, a couple tennis tournaments, a few piano lessons and a whole lot of ham sandwiches and fruit, my boys never went away to camp. But maybe I should be more honest: even if our summer consisted of nothing but sitting on our asses, grilling burgers, playing video games and going to movies, I still wouldn't have sent my boys to camp. They have less than no desire to go live in a stinky cabin with a bunch of strangers for a week, fight mosquitoes, eat weird food, leave cell phones behind and miss their friends. And in addition to me not wanting to deal with them after they've spent a week eating weird food and putting up with strange children, my husband and I have no desire to pay for it.

But since I'm not one to ever deprive my kids of anything, I started wondering if maybe the reason they didn't go to camp was because of me and my lack of motivation to pay, pack, drop-off, pick-up and do laundry. They might actually enjoy a week in the woods, exploring nature and swimming in a lake. Maybe I should create a "camp at home" for them, just to give them a little bit of the experience without the homesickness, bugs, smells, discomfort and most of all, outpouring of cash.

As if on cue, friends of ours, who are on an extended vacation out of the country, offered us the use of their northern Minnesota lake home for a week. In addition to being given the perfect setting, I then came across some ideas for creating a camp in the comfort of your own home. Now I just need to figure out a way to incorporate these ideas:

Pick a theme: This is easy. Our theme is relaxation. Not international day, outdoor enthusiast, or Hawaiian luau -- it's relaxation. I will not be sneaking in any educational activities other than saying "Please order something that's less than $10" when we go out to dinner and "Try to get out of bed before noon." After all, they should be brushing up on their math and time-telling skills before school starts.

Try new cuisine: If one kid orders tacos, another kid orders spaghetti and the other one orders a burger, they can all taste each others' food.

Check your stress at the door: We are staying at someone else's house, so needless to say I might be a little bit extra anal about shoes coming off, coasters being used and bathrooms staying clean. That is, until I've had my third vodka tonic. At that point, I might not even be using a coaster.

Try role playing: I'm hoping that this tip means "let the kid be the parent for a short time," and if it does, I can pretty much guarantee that it's not going to happen. Otherwise, I suppose it will depend on where all the bedrooms are located and how soundproof the walls are.

Make a T-shirt: Maybe I'll get some puffy paint and let each kid decorate one shirt that they can wear the entire week and throw away at the end, therefore cutting down on the amount of laundry I have to do. On mine, I'll write "Welcome to Camp-I'm-Feeling-Drinky."

Have circle time: According to the article, "circle time will help get your day started and should include reading or singing time." Um, no. Just no. The only way that I will incorporate circle time is by staring at the top of my coffee cup -- which is a circle, while staring at the lake, which is circle-ish.

Create a craft: Since I don't do crafts at home, I'm sure as hell not going to haul craft supplies on vacation. Unless I can't find a paring knife. In that case, an X-acto knife might come in handy for hacking up a lime.

Play some sports: I will be an active participant in the sport of putting my feet up, placing a drink in my hand, focusing my eyes on a magazine and eventually -- napping. Hopefully my kids won't then participate in a sport called drowning.

Sleep outdoors: No.

Stage a talent show: Again, no. Unless there's whiskey involved.

Go on a field trip: This one I can do. There is a bar nearby that has tons of cool stuff on the walls, a deck facing the lake where you can see fish jump and a ping pong table in the lower level bar. I may even make a questionnaire for the kids to fill in after we leave, like "What kind of beer did dad order?" and "How many times did mom accidentally swear?" and "How long did it take before Zoe said 'It's my turn to play ping pong'?"

Have fun at home: Well, duh. Isn't that the whole point of going to camp? I mean, even without setting up an obstacle course, playing the harmonica, going on a scavenger hunt or having international cooking day, I would hope that a week away from work and our frustratingly-hectic schedule of the summer would be fun! After all, I CAN BE FUN! I'LL SHOW YOU THAT I CAN BE FUN!

And just like that, I'm actually looking forward to hosting this camp at home. Or in this case, someone else's home.

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