Ah, summer. Warm temperatures and sunny days, relaxed schedules and outdoor living. I’m really enjoying my summer this year, in no small part because all three children are in the same half-day summer camp for a month. This leaves me with kid-free mornings to write, exercise or even meet a friend for coffee. It has been heaven. I’m a big believer in summer camp.

Ah, summer. Warm temperatures and sunny days, relaxed schedules and outdoor living. I’m really enjoying my summer this year, in no small part because all three children are in the same half-day summer camp for a month. This leaves me with kid-free mornings to write, exercise, or even meet a friend for coffee. It has been heaven. I’m a big believer in summer camp.


Some mothers wear the camp director hat for their own children all summer. I’m proud to say I know some of these women, and my admiration for them is boundless, even as I wrap myself in mental anti-summer-camp garlic as protection from my family’s sinking their teeth into the idea.


Some family camp directors come up with clever names for their stay-at-home summer camps, and plan all kinds of interesting and educational activities for their children. A friend of mine from college had “holiday week,” where the children chose a different holiday to celebrate for each day. Christmas in July? You betcha, and Thanksgiving dinner, too. It’s an ambitious undertaking, and I’m not sure I’d be up to the task.


If I think about it, though, and I didn’t cherish my solo mornings so much, I like to think I’d do a decent job as a summer camp director for my own children. Each morning would commence with a breakfast of their favorite foods, planned in advance of course, and then happily fed kids would go off to their rooms to get dressed and make their beds. They’d report back to morning meeting 20 minutes later and learn the schedule of fun, action-packed activities for the day.


The first week would include nature walks on nearby trails, a trip to the beach and make-your-own healthy lunches. I’d have a museum or planetarium trip in reserve for a rainy day, and not only would I have several arts-and-crafts projects planned, but I would also have everything needed to complete those projects. S’mores by campfire as fireflies lit up the night would cap the perfect week at Camp Fay.


The second week would probably involve some variation on the nature-walk/arts-and-crafts theme. I’d throw in a little healthy cooking, but eventually we’d have to run errands and pitch in for some domestic chores. By the third week, Camp Fay would have transformed into Camp Do-Your-Own-Laundry. There’d be some survival training, too, as the kids subsisted on gorp and juice boxes while the exhausted director locked herself in the bathroom so she could read her e-mails in peace.


Knowing my limitations, it’s probably best to leave camp direction to the professionals. My kids can enjoy their half-day camp and I can do my work and errands in the mornings, leaving the afternoons free for playdates or trips to the neighborhood pool. And when camp is over in a couple of weeks, I’ll simply pack up all three kids and send them to my friend’s at-home camp. After all, what are holidays without houseguests?


Patriot Ledger contributor Julie Fay is a winner of the 2010 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. Read more at www.juliefaysblog.blogspot.com.