Monday, March 29, 2010

Summer Camp Business

Yes, you are reading it correct. Summer camps have become more of a business, a business that capitalizes on the
  • parents' craze to make sure that their kids learn all that there is, in the world within a span of five days/seven days/ten days/fifteen days/one month/two months; That is how summer camps are slotted.
  • kids' peer pressure mind states; Everyone in the play group attends one camp or the other, so its very difficult to convince a child that its okay 'not' to attend a camp.
  • parents' spending power on 'everything' and 'nothing', sometimes even without thinking once; leave alone the idea of "Think twice before you act".

I am not saying Summer camps are bad. In fact, I think it is a nice way to know a lot of people, to know how to mingle with people you do not know, to learn good (sometimes bad, but that can be handled at home) habits/behaviour, to learn something new and to make the summer vacation a little fruitful. What I think is not okay is the exorbitant fees that these camp groups charge.

This morning's email said, "Summer camp @ Rupees seven thousand only!!. Learn over 30 activities in five days starting April 26th 2010".

But Why???!!!!???

When you get into the details, you'll see that the activities and the comforts chosen are such. Also, from the camp group's stand point, the fee structure may be all fair. I am not into that business and I won't know. But, what I know is that a summer vacation summer camp's cost can be utilized for a family tour or trip that surely will remain in every one's mind for many years to come.

There have been camps in the past too, that will come for a nominal rate of Rs 100 for a week - Indoor games coaching, Drawing and Painting, craft work - and such activities that you can choose from. May be there weren't plenty of choices, but the children were happy even then with what they got. All that the child needs is time-pass and people and fun in the vacation.

My take here is that you do not have to pay 7k for five days of summer vacation. If you have two children, then 15000 rupees for five days of their vacation is equivalent to a month's comfortable living expenses for a small family in a town inclusive of the house rent.

If people reason out that the child will get bored during the vacation, then get them to explain the remaining 55 days ( assuming a 60 day vacation time) time-pass to me!!

Time pass is totally up to us and what we inculcate in the children. You can have a mix of all these in a vacation time period and get the family bonds stronger, instead of depending on an external agency to keep your child happy.

- Coloring
- Drawing
- Cooking
- Cycling
- Driving/Biking
- Writing
- Reading
- Cleaning
- Planning
- Shopping
- Discussions at home
- Visiting relatives
.... and the list is endless....

If your child wants to learn something in particular then it is different; you must encourage that interest, provided you agree that it might contribute to the child's growth. Just because your ten year old asks for a summer camp in Singapore/Hongkong/Ladakh/Utopia or some unnecessarily high-priced local summer camp, do not encourage that high-priced learning. Use the opportunity to let the children know how much money means to life. If your child insists, you could enroll her/him in some reasaonable group's summer camp that can still keep the child occupied; avoid risk to physical and mental health; inculcate values in their minds.

Someone who met me at a wedding and a comment here tell me that this article has been published in the Blog talk section of Bangalore Mirror. I have not got the link and have not had a chance to see the paper.


nalini said...

hello deepa
actually i read this in the Bangalore mirror this morning. i completely agree with you that all these "summer camps" are mostly money making ways. coz i don't think that one can learn any art in crash courses of 5 days.
good thoughts. hope it drills sense into the minds of busy parents who think that this will keep their kids occupied

SG said...

One good solution for this is parents forming groups with other parents -one or two sets of parents can take all the kids to the zoo one day while another set of parents takes the kids to an amusement park on another day. This way, the children get all the fun, parents have some time to themselves and you have the comfort of having sent your kids with someone you know and trust. Of course the key point is finding families that you are comfortable with and/or those that have similar values.

I still remember my summer vacations with my grandparents and cousins. With the former, I learnt slokas, carnatic music, mythology and with the latter, I played hide and seek, climbed water towers, got wet in the rain, burst crackers and made memories that are still as fresh as dewdrops in my mind :) !....sometimes I feel sorry for today's kids....for not being able to enjoy the simplicity and innocence of childhood.

Pavithra said...

Very true ..I compltely agree with u dear ..

Rekha said...

Hmm, as much as I agree with your thoughts about blowing up huge amounts for a week, it's also important that kids learn a new skill and enrich their passion during these holidays when they do not have the pressure of studies.

Priya H said...

As far as the kids are really interested in what they are doing and if the summer camps really work on improving the skills of the kids, the money could be still worth. But now, unfortunately, kids are sent to camps becoz they dont have anyone to spend time with them. Will be blogging on similar lines soon...

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