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Are You a Kidsick Parent?

You and your child finally decided he/she was old enough for sleepaway camp. You packed the bags, maybe even had your child pack with you so he'd know exactly what he was bringing, including home addressed, stamped envelopes, paper and a pen.

You dropped the kid off with a kiss and a hug and words of wisdom about having a good time. And off the kid sprinted, excited for the adventure, fun and friends. So, now what?

For a growing number of parents, kidsickness sets in, according to the Kansas City Star.

They search the camp Web sites for photos of their kids. They cry. They worry. They call the camp when they don't get calls or letters home.

"The time and energy camp directors put into preparing parents for camp is now equal to the time they prepare children for camp," Peg Smith, head of the American Camp Association, told The Star. The organization works with about 2,600 camps nationwide.

Long gone, apparently, are the days when moms sent kids off to sleepaway camp for months as mine did when I was six (and seven, and eight, and nine, etc.). In truth, now that I have a six-year-old, I can't imagine what she was thinking. Because I can't possibly fathom sending him away from home for 9 weeks just yet.

Much as I try to encourage independence in my offspring, I'm hoping I have a few more years before I have to let them go on their own for weeks at a time.

What about you? Are you suffering kidsickness? Or are you happily taking advantage of every minute of your parenting break?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 14, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Tweens
Previous: The Obama Children | Next: Overscheduled and Overstressed?


I can't believe I am the first one here today. I couldn't get back to sleep after getting up to make my husband's breakfast and walk the dog in the rain.
My son has asked to go to sleep-over camp. We will discuss it for next summer. I couldn't bear for him to be gone for so long but it would probably be good for him. He wants to walk home from the bus stop alone when school starts this year. My husband is against it. I want to try.

Posted by: Donna | July 14, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

I saw a license plate from Guam today. Just like the New Mexico plates, it read "Guam USA."

Posted by: I | July 14, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I only got to send one away this year- so, there really wasn't time to have "kidsickness". She was also only gone for 1 week which was just enough time to start actually missing her. She also goes away with her Dad for the same amount of time or longer severeal times a year, so I am getting used to her not being around all the time. Her sisters had a surprisingly hard time without her. I honestly think that it is such a good experience. I also begged and pleaded to be sent to sleepaway camp when I was a kid and never was. I am most certainly projecting this desire on my children :)

Posted by: Momof5 | July 14, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Kid's age makes a huge difference.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

NINE weeks? That's a LONG time for a 6 year old to go without seeing his/her parents. Are there any camps that do that anymore?

I desperately wanted to go to sleep-away camp as a kid. The longest I got was a week. I was so envious of the camp stories from the kids who went. If my kid wants to go, she certainly can, but we'll start with a week away to see how that goes. I'm sure I'll worry, but that's just a parent's lot.

Posted by: atb | July 14, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I too went to sleep-away camp for 8 weeks at a pretty young age, 7. There was a visiting day so I did see my parents at the mid-point. Apparently they don't do visiting days now, I'm not sure why. My daughter, age 8, went to a 4-day overnight program this summer. She will probably go for 2 weeks next summer. The biggest thing was not knowing if she was ok. I missed her but was more worried that she was homesick, not sleeping, not getting along with her friends, etc. She was fine and had a great time and now she's with her grandparents for 5 days but she calls on the phone to check in which is very nice.

Sleep-away camp was a big part of my childhhood. I have great memories and I think it made me more independent and self-reliant. I do think that a child can have that experience in way less than 8 weeks though. I don't expect to send my kids away for that long unless they are in HS and working at the camp. The cost of camps is very high which makes 8 weeks not a possibility financially for us right now.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | July 14, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Oh, why do you write such stuff. My little precious doesn't go anywhere without me now. But next year or maybe the year after that Vacation Bible School! I don't even want to think about being away from little precious for VBS.

Posted by: Cecilia | July 14, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Am I suffering Kidsickness? Yes. OrganicKid is with her dad for 6 weeks, but I miss her horribly. Am I taking advantage of my time with her being at dad's? Absolutely! I'm taking the motorcycle to work every day to save gas, and going for evening rides. I'm having supper at 10 PM, and calling olives, cheese, bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a glass of wine dinner. I've gone to grown-up movies. I've stayed in bed 'til noon on Saturday. But, every night, I wonder how her day was, what she did, and how much taller she'll be when she gets home. I make something to eat I haven't tried before, and wonder if she'll like it. Organic Guy's dad asks me, every time we see him, when his gal is coming home. Really, I don't see this as and either/or. I'm probably like most other moms. I miss Organic Kid. I want her to be back. But, I am finding ways to enjoy my "grown-up" time with her being with her dad for an extended time.

Posted by: OrganicGal | July 14, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Okay, that should be "I don't see this as AN either/or..." Mondays are the bane of my existence...

Posted by: Organic Gal | July 14, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Sleep-away camp is a valuable for children learning to be independant of full time parental oversight, as it is valuable for weaning parents from their children as well.

Not suprised that helicopter parents cannot stomach even a week of camp.

I would think that most sleep away camps would be best for kids that are out of elementary school.. and ready - in their parent's opinion.

I did full summer sleep away for two summers back in the 70's.

Too much money for us, but both of older kids have done one-week camps and has been an eye openner for them, and I hope still a valauable lesson toward self reliance.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 14, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

OK, I don't have kids yet, but I was one of those kids who BEGGED to go to summer camp, boarding school, my aunt in France - anyplace AWAY from my normal routine. Adults aren't the only ones who long for a change.

6 years old is a bit young for most kids to be away from home for 8-9 weeks, but 2 weeks is always a good test. And when I was a kid a lot of camps allowed you to extend the extra 2 weeks if the kids wanted to stay.

I usually see stories about how young is too young for a cell phone/e-mail account/etc. I think this story is proof that it's the parents' need to reach their child that drives those decisions. Yes, your kid may not write much while he/she's away at camp. That probably means the kid is too busy having fun. They'll write when they want something - oreos, or more books to read, their shin guards for soccer, etc. Otherwise, let your kids enjoy a few weeks that are not driven by technology. A place where they can play soccer, lacrosse, swim, and do arts & crafts one day, while they have tennis lessons and boating the next day. Let them be kids, who learn how to make friends without mommy's assistance, and learn how to deal with conflicts and problems on their own. How else do you expect your children to grow into capable, independent adults, who don't live at home rent-free when they're 30? Summer camp isn't the only way to achieve this, but unlike school, where mom & dad know some of the other parents, and can easily contact the teacher, principal, etc. to intercede on little Johnny's behalf, when your kid is away at camp, the camp will only contact you when there's a real problem. (Which doesn't necesarily mean an injury - if your kid is crying himself sick because he's unhappy, the camp will let you know.) But otherwise the counselors will help the kids handle the changes, and conflicts, and make sure your kid does his share of the chores. It's a great way to really test your wings.

Posted by: once a kid.... | July 14, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I went to sleepaway camp for many years as a child and my mom ALWAYS got kidsick. Which was always a frustrating issue for us because I would come home from camp and be sad about missing my camp friends and would be campsick and she would be so happy that I was home that she couldn't understand what I was going through.So I ended up feeling guilty and awful for having fun and being sad. So if you are kidsick, when your kids come home, please remember and realize that they most likely were not feeling the same way you were. While home may have been missed, the transition from camp to home is much harder on the kids than it may seem. Please don't be upset if they are not as overjoyed to see you as you are to see them. Now that I have kids, I realize the disappointment she felt, but it woudl have been much better for us both if she cold have been more understanding and adult and kept that disappointment to herself.

Posted by: mdsails | July 14, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

"I'm having supper at 10 PM, and calling olives, cheese, bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a glass of wine dinner."

It doesn't get much better than this.

Posted by: MN | July 14, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

My girls are gone for two weeks and I am LOVING it. I painted the living room and steam cleaned the carpets the first week. Now I am just enjoying my temporarily neat and beautiful home. I'm eating foods that would gross my kids out like steamed mussels. It helps knowing they're having a great time too. No kidsickness here.

Posted by: anne | July 14, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I went to sleep away camp for nine weeks starting in third grade. Personally, I loved it. It was so much more exciting then being at home. I also had long lasting friendships. I think sleep away camp is a great experience. That being said, I think it is pretty costly for most families. I am not sure how my parents had the money for sleep away camp for 9 weeks and three kids. But my church has a camp that they can go to starting at age 8. I think the first year, you can only go for one week and after that two weeks. We will do that. I think it is a lot more fun than the day camps/day cares that kids do now.

OT: My son was born 4 weeks ago. Big fat and healthy. We are all doing well. He was 7 lbs 13.5 ozs and 20" LONG.

Posted by: foamgnome | July 14, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I went to summer camp every summer beginning at age 9 for 2 weeks until age 15. Then I was a counselor. I wanted to go longer, but I think my parents were the kidsick kind, so they didn't want me away that long. I think, though, that two weeks was a good amount of time. It was long enough to want to go back, but not so long that you got bored or started missing your friends at home.

I definitely want to send my kids to sleep away camp. Perhaps where I used to go, though it's a long drive from DC to Alabama. I think I will probably start them at the same grade level as when I went (just after 3rd grade). And I want to put them in a day camp like Butler's maybe, or another, that is similar to a sleep away camp beginning next summer so he gets the idea of what it's like.

No doubt I'll miss them, but that's just a fact of life. They are our children, not our possessions. They live their own lives, and one day they're out on their own.

Posted by: Cliff | July 14, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

My, my, my -- the angst of the well-to-do. What's next? Analyzing the difference between a Jag and a Beamer? Which private school offers better academics as opposed to better social life? Harvard or Yale, Yale or Harvard? Get a grip, folks, and get a life.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Yup, every summer, I gives the youngin's a tent and a rifle and chase them into the woods fer a while. Granny needs some mo' varmits to put by (can for you city types) for the winter. So I gives the youngin's a listing of meats that Granny be needin'

Granny uses this time to put by her greens & collared from the garden as well as make blackberry perserve!

Posted by: Jed Clampett | July 14, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

My daughter went to Russia to attend language school for four weeks, she is coming back this weekend. Lives in a dorm, goes to field trips, overall is having a blast. At 15 she is the youngest there, and everybody is fawning over her.
She asked for it, and I would love such an opportunity when I was her age, so kidsickness did not stop me. It helped that she already has a job experience from last summer (had to get special job permit for 14 yo), so I know she is capable of handling busses, schedules, and people. She started going to away camps at 8 yo. After the first camp she came home two shades darker, at it wasn't a tan -- the camp did not enforce proper washing.

Posted by: Dest | July 14, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Jed, I sure hope Granny uses a pressure canner when she puts those foods by, so's the Clampett clan won't get salmonella.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Granny boils them there jars until the tops pop. We aint never had no salmon - don't care too much for that there fancy fish.

Posted by: Jethro | July 14, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Jed, I sure hope Granny uses a pressure canner when she puts those foods by, so's the Clampett clan won't get salmonella.

Posted by: | July 14, 2008 10:29 AM

That's botulism for you, pal.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

That's botulism for you

We don'nts have any of that there fancy French soup either!

Posted by: Jethro | July 14, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I went to sleepaway camp for between 4-8 weeks/summer from the time I was 8 years old through most summers in college (camper, CIT, junior counselor, counselor). I'm sure I got homesick in the first couple of years, but loved every minute of it. And I KNOW my parents---while they missed me at times---were more than happy to have their summers kid-free!!!

Bottom line: if the kids can handle it and are ready, the parents need to get a grip.

Posted by: Dadof2 | July 14, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Who can afford weeks and weeks of sleepaway camp? At upwards of $500 per week per kid? We WISH we could afford to send our oldest to one week of sleepaway camp, but the gas and food prices have eaten away the resources for that expenditure. What a nice problem to have.

Posted by: Get Real | July 14, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Foamgnome, Congratulations! I hope you are enjoying your time at home.

Posted by: MN | July 14, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree on the expense. My parents finally found a camp run by the Jewish Y, and it was a lot less expensive than many other sleep away camps. As with everything else, it is a matter of setting priorities and budgeting for those things you consider important. I LOVED my time away from home, and my parents did their best to provide it for me.

Posted by: once a kid... | July 14, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line: if the kids can handle it and are ready, the parents need to get a grip.

Isn't this what parents do? Raise them and hopefully give them the skills and ability to become independent - a little bit at a time? It is certainly better to start them out at a well-chaperoned camp than to send them off at 18 to a unsupervised college dorm or apartment.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"My, my, my -- the angst of the well-to-do. What's next? Analyzing the difference between a Jag and a Beamer? Which private school offers better academics as opposed to better social life? Harvard or Yale, Yale or Harvard? Get a grip, folks, and get a life"

Actually, they have a life. One you seem envious of. Time for you to get back to your greeter job at walmart. Someone just came in.....

Posted by: beemer please | July 14, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Why does everybody only think of Jags and Beemers as luxury cars? Come on people. You are missing out on a whole lot of good cars. What is wrong with a Lexus? Mercedes? Even the new Acuras are pretty spiffy and not cheap.

Posted by: Lexus owner | July 14, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I am not a kidsick parent. end of story.

Those of you kidsick now are going to be in a world of pain once they go away to college. Oh wait, you're a helicopter parent in training! You embrace every moment of your child's life and, let me tell you, they will push you away for it. Don't you remember how you and your friends pushed away your parents so you could create your own life? No? then fix your rememberer.

now let your own personal self-justification begin. Ever notice the more a person self-justifies a behavior, the worse that behavior really is?

Posted by: a parent of college kids who wonders why people navel gaze so much | July 14, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

You luxo car owners owe it to yourselves to test drive an Infiniti before buying your next one.

Infinitis are pretty luxo and tech neat also. (Besides being just as fast as a Break My Windows at a lesser cost.)

Posted by: Infiniti Owner | July 14, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Oh for the love of Pete, what's wrong with missing your kid? That doesn't make you a helicopter parent, it makes you someone who likes your kid and enjoys his/her company. Gee, wish I had had parents like that. Now if you are trying to call your kid on the cell phone you snuck into his luggage every day at camp, maybe that's a different story, but I haven't seen anyone write that yet.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | July 14, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

tsp - read the definition of kidsickness

"They search the camp Web sites for photos of their kids. They cry. They worry. They call the camp when they don't get calls or letters home."

it is the same definition of helicopter parent. read the article. think a bit. kidsickness is way beyond simply missing your kid.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I am definitely thinking about sleep-away camp for my son next summer, but maybe one that is just a couple of weeks. If he likes that, we will consider something longer (maybe a month at the longest) the next year. Although I would not consider sending him away all summer. I just enjoy summer with the kids too much. It is the only time that we can hang out at the pool on weekday evenings, and just relax and not have to worry about homework, sports practices, etc. I am all for teaching the little ones to become independent, but I am not willing to give them up for entire summers yet. The time for that will come all too fast anyway.

Posted by: Emily | July 14, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

to 11:51 - ok, point taken. But I still think that looking for photos, crying, worrying--up to but probably not including calling the camp--it's okay. If your kids don't know you're going nuts at home, it won't hurt them.

foamgnome, congratulations!

Posted by: tsp 2007 | July 14, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I love the two weeks DS is at camp! I start missing him after the first couple of days but the camp's website posts pics every day so I can see that he is having fun. The time he is away is when some major house cleaning gets done, I can work late and not have to go home and fix dinner and time for me to go out with friends and not have to worry about a babysitter or how late I can sleep in. DS gets to play sports that we don't have time to play a full season of during the school year, do fun and challenging things like the ropes courses and make a few more desisions for himself.

Posted by: KS | July 14, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

My son is eight but not yet interested in sleepover camp. Maybe in a few years. I completely agree with Emily -- I can't imagine sending him away for long during the summer because it is our family break to just enjoy evenings and weekends together without all of the crazy school deadlines and homework. We do a number of fun day camps instead, so he still gets to branch out and navigate new situations on his own.

Posted by: Chicago Mom | July 14, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Donna & Cecilia,

The longer your kids stay at camp, the more time you two will have for your tawdry liaisons.

Posted by: Pillsbury Doughboy | July 14, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The Girl Scouts will work with you to make sleep-away camp affordable. I imagine Boy Scouts would too. There's aid packages for everything. Otherwise, maybe cost should be worked into your kid's education. X amount of money from grandma for birthdays, part of your allowance, etc can be set aside for camp.

I LOVED camp. Two weeks was as long as I went for but it was great.

Posted by: Em | July 14, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why some people here feel a need to degrade those who don't have the same life goals and life styles. Is it jealousy? Boredom? A need to create controversy where none exists?
Yes, I stay home with my children. It is what my husband and I agreed upon when I first gave birth. Do I want to go back to work? Yes. Does my husband want me to go back to work? No. Does that bother me - a whole lot. Will we discuss it ad naseum this summer - you betcha. Why is that so hard for some people to understand and accept?

Posted by: Donna | July 14, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with tsp - as long as you aren't stalking the camp director by phone/email or visits it's normal to miss your kids when they are at camp.

I do find it funny that colleges have design a full (separate) orientation program for parents - to keep them out of the student events! 15 years ago my parents dropped me off one afternoon, went to a half day welcome program the next day, and stopped by the dorms before they left. Now it's a multi-day event for parents according to a co-worker sending a kid off this year.

OT to foamgnome: Congratulations!

Posted by: Kate | July 14, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

beemer please - see, the funny thing is that people like yourself have this misconception that everyone wants a luxury car, which just isn't true. I could afford one, yet I don't see the point of plopping down all that money for a piece of machinery that depreciates the second you drive it off the lot, and needs overpriced repairs from time to time, just like every other car. I can think of lots of better ways to put my money to use than buying an image. I'm also not a conceited jackass and don't fall for all the subtle advertising that has somehow convinced you that you're better than everyone else because of your car.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't surprise me that parents are getting kidsickness, when some parents are calling professors and potential employers when their kids are in college. Missing your kid and calling the camp weeping are 2 different things.

If the kid is ready and the length of the camp is reasonable, good idea. If not, bad idea. You know your kid, I hope parents just try to be parents and not take it personally that kids are having a good time at camp away from them.

Some of the ways to save on camps are welcome information, the price is why we have never used them.

Posted by: Siggy | July 14, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Multi-day orientation for parents? Anyone from Canada and know if it works the same way there these days? I ask because I grew up in Canada and the extent of my Mom's involvement was to pack up the car with my stuff and drive me to the dorm I was living in. She helped me unpack - we might have had lunch or dinner together and she was gone the same day. I don't remember feeling that she needed to do anything more for me.

Posted by: Billie | July 14, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

If $500 a week for camp sounds expensive to you, you clearly don't have any kids in daycare in the DC area! It's $400 a week for an infant at our center. Admittedly, that's the high end, and it's crazy good, but add in gas to cart them around plus food and pool fees, and you're pretty close to $500 a week. The bonus, of course, is that you basically have a baby sitter every night! At $10 an hour, you're now WELL over $500 a week. I can't believe I've come to a point in my life where I can no longer be sticker shocked! Thanks, DC!

Posted by: atb | July 14, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"'re better than everyone else because of your car."

Are the stars(and I use the term loosely) exempt from this philosophy? I don't think so.

Kim Kardashian drives a Bentley
David Beckham - Bentley

You would be hard pressed to find two bigger egos than these.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Foamgnome: congrats!

I went away at 10, begged!!! for many years before then - as my sisters had been away and it sounded fantastic. I went for 6-8 weeks, most summers, sometimes we couldn't afford anything or could only afford day camps.

My kids are too young now, but at 6, I know it's coming soon. I can't believe the prices, but I speak to some parents who figure they will try to work at the camps when their kids go. We'll see.

My parents dropped me off in a parking lot and we took a bus to the camp with the other kids - about 4 or so hours, I guess. So my parents never saw the camps til they went to visiting day in the middle of camp. Much different world out there today - with videos on line, etc. The camp people would come to our house with brochures and talk with mom and dad, etc, i would doubt that's what happens now.

My sister told me the camps now have 'trial camp' for kids you're planning on sending next year. So new and different...

We spoke with mom and dad once a week - by a collect call. That was it - and then there were letters, but not so many, I mean, how many can you write. I had the best time at summer camps, but part of that was to get away from home. If I could have gone more, I would have, but obviously i wasn't making the decisions.

Posted by: atlmom | July 14, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

And where can I send my kid for $500 per week? I'd love to know. It's $800-$1000 around here...

Posted by: atlmom | July 14, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

When I was growing up, we when to a camp that was sponsored by a church. I remember some religious aspects such as songs and grace but don't remember religion being a central part. I suspect we went because it was cheaper.

The only camp that I personally know about that is overnight and close to the DC area is run by a church and very inexpensive. Rates run from 150$ for 8-9 year olds for a partial week to Teen Break Away week Camps for 350$. These are not all summer camps but meant to send your children for a week. Perhaps it is an option for someone who is price conscious.

Posted by: Billie | July 14, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I meant to add the URL:

Posted by: Billie | July 14, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

And where can I send my kid for $500 per week? I'd love to know. It's $800-$1000 around here...

I know that a 2 week scout camp a neighbor talked about ran something like $1200. I guess that's a rarity.

I've seen amazing daycamps for as low as $900 per month, far below what they were worth in my mind.

Posted by: DCer | July 14, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

day camps seem to be all over the place. the place my son loves is $200 a week, so i use that as a guide (9-3). BUT there are some that are say 3 hours a day, but something ridiculous like $400+ for the week. It's insane. Then there's the one that a conservancy runs at the big park, that's like $180 per week (if you're a member at the conservancy) and it's something like 8-6.

It runs all over the board. I don't know if we'll be doing boy scouts, maybe in the next year or two.

Unfortunately, the jewish camps just wring every penny from you (and then ask for donations - they will tell you that their fees couldn't possibly cover their costs...).

Posted by: atlmom | July 14, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I started Girl Scout camp at @7-8 -- just for a week or two, because it was all that we could afford, but I also had weeks away at grandparents and my dad's, so I was basically gone more than I was home most summers.

On the expense, since both of our kids are young enough to need full-time care, we'd be paying for daycare anyway, so the upcharge isn't that much. Atlmom, really, $1000/week? I never even knew there were places out there that charged that much! :-) Ours is basically the same as our 2-yr-old's daycare. I'm sure we could find something a little cheaper, but the extra's worth it to me for her to be able to spend the summer outside, swimming and running herself silly with a bunch of kids her age. Like someone said earlier, if it's important to you, you find a way to budget for it.

We've still got a year or two to go before sleepaway camp; she's not clamoring for it (yet), so no rush. But she has spent several days at a time at various grandparents' houses without us, and this year will be spending next week at Granddad's with her cousin. I definitely miss her when she's gone, but it sure does make the days a little calmer and quieter! :-)

Posted by: Laura | July 14, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the jewish camps just wring every penny from you (and then ask for donations - they will tell you that their fees couldn't possibly cover their costs...).

Posted by: atlmom | July 14, 2008 2:58 PM

Really? DD's in a Jewish camp, and I thought it was pretty reasonable! Of course, I didn't do a lot of comparison shopping, so maybe I got ripped. :-)

Posted by: Laura | July 14, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Shankar Vedantam is writing about you people over at the Health column -- beserk, controlling parents at their kids' games. I'm sure he knows all of you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I googled the DAY camp I went to when I was a kid. Get this...

it's ***$6800****** for eight weeks. Seriously. I guess it's the premier camp and everyone wants to tell everyone else that they send their kid there.

This is a 'dumpy' camp:

$2400 for two weeks. $4900 for four weeks.

Check it out.

Posted by: atlmom | July 14, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Seriously Laura: where's the camp? Those are camps close to Atlanta. I'm hoping we can save our pennies to send the kids for at least a few weeks in the summers. I don't see how friends of mine do it

with more kids
sending them to private school
and sending them to camps EVERY week.

Posted by: atlmom | July 14, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse


All this talk made me go google the overnight camp that I went to when I was a child. It still seems cheap at 370$ a week. I suspect in that area (very rural) that it is likely fairly expensive but it seems pretty cheap by DC standards.

And it also makes me wonder how my parents afforded it back in the day. We also spent a week with my mom's parents on their farm which was pretty awesome.

Posted by: Billie | July 14, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

If $500 a week for camp sounds expensive to you, you clearly don't have any kids in daycare in the DC area!

Posted by: atb | July 14, 2008 2:01 PM

I didn't say it was expensive, I said it was a lot of money for a discretionary item. Reading is fundamental.

Daycare is a required life expense if you both work outside the home. Sleep away camp is not.

Posted by: Get Realer | July 14, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, atlmom is right. Ramah NE is $6800 for 8 weeks. That's $850 a week. Right now I pay $285/week for day camp that my 6-year old loves. Just $10 more per week than day care, so I call it affordable. Overnight camp was great for me, but not at that kind of money. I wonder how my parents afforded it - and how much proportionally it went up in 25 years.
By the way, Ramah (a set of international Jewish camp) starts overnights the summer after 3rd grade. Not at 6 years old.

Posted by: inBoston | July 14, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I thought the whole point of sleepaway camp was to get your kid out of her hometown, preferably to somewhere where she will experience something different.

Duke Soccer camp is $625 per week.

Camp Rim Rock (Girls only in Winchester, VA) is $1000 or more per week, depending on the session.

Jim Calhoun's basketball camp at UConn is $510 per week.

YMCA Camp at Camp Lockwood in the Ozarks is $430 per week.

Camp Ewalu, a Lutheran sleepover camp in Iowa, charges $315 to $329 per week for early registration.

The Pines, a Texas Roman Catholic camp, is $485 to $525 depending on age.

Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village, a Jewish camp in Northeastern PA, runs between $1100 and $1300 per week depending on the week and the age of the camper.

Posted by: Rates | July 14, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I went to camp and loved it. The buttless chaps, the hunky counselors, the leather saddles. Those were the days...

Posted by: Get Real | July 14, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

atlmom, sorry, our camp is outside Baltimore -- would be a bit of a long busride. We could rent you a room, though (for a lot less than $5K/mo!). :-) I gotta say, though, I'm stunned by the prices I'm seeing quoted here -- ours isn't a sleepaway camp, but still, dang.

As to your friends with private schools, you generally only pay for that during the school year, right? So I guess during the summer you'd just divert that $$ to camp instead. I remember hearing a dad explain that it really wasn't that hard to afford college after sending multiple kids through private school. Even though they hadn't been able to save a lot, they had built their budget around private school tuitions (ie, smaller house, older cars, etc.). So when college came, he basically just changed the payee on the check!

"I thought the whole point of sleepaway camp was to get your kid out of her hometown"

I think my mom would tell you that the point of sending me to sleepaway camp was to get me out of her hair. :-)

Posted by: Laura | July 14, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

My children go to Camp Grandma and Grandpa for a week or two each summer. No cost except for gas there and back, and no kidsickness!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Kim Kardashian drives a Bentley..

Yes but the shame she has brought on her family will never wash off....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Wait - the camp I was quoting at $6800 was for the DAY camp I went to as a kid.

But, apparently, and thankfully, there is a big difference in camps, so at least they don't have to go to the expensive ones all the time!!

And, I have to say - the Ramah Darom my DH and I went to many years ago (5 or 6 or so) right after it opened and said: we are NOT sending our kids to this place!!! It's TOO NICE. Well, by the time our kids are going to be old enough, I can bet it will be as run down as I remember camp to be...

Posted by: atlmom | July 14, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Walter, it's tacky tacky tacky to promote family businesses on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I think being kidsick is fine- as long as you give yourself the chance to BE kidsick and not let it interfere with the kid actually having new experiences.

Posted by: Liz D | July 14, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

SPAM at 4:32 on Aisle 9. SPAM on Aisle 9.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Our daycamp for our daughter - at which she has archery, horseback riding, tennis, pool, etc. -- is $215 per week. If we took it up a notch to sleepaway camp, we'd be over $500 per week. Maybe others have a budget that allows for limitless expansion, but ours does not, LOL.

Until that money tree in the backyard starts to bloom, day camp it is.

Posted by: MN | July 14, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

may I have a cutting from your money tree? I have the perfect spot for it in my backyard. trust me, it is perfect.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Maybe others have a budget that allows for limitless expansion, but ours does not, LOL.

Yeesh, learn to prioritize and be willing to sacrifice your own luxuries for your kids' sake, because they're missing out on great opportunities they'll never get again thanks to your personal selfishness and greed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 15, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Yeesh, learn to prioritize and be willing to sacrifice your own luxuries for your kids' sake, because they're missing out on great opportunities they'll never get again thanks to your personal selfishness and greed.

Posted by: | July 15, 2008 8:04 AM

Yeesh, look in the mirror, bub. Our household has one car with more than 100,000 miles on it. We are not taking a vacation this year. We are paying off education debt. What you call personal selfishness (we'll excuse the redundancy in your communications) and greed, we call personal responsibility, but maybe that's a foreign concept to you.

Posted by: MN | July 15, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I was born in 1950 to working class parents. Moms stayed home. All of us baby boomers played in the yards, streets and school playgrounds. I had heard of camp and asked what it was. My mother's answer was "Only parents who don't love their children send them away for the summer". I thought that was a clever answer for camp was a luxury item. However, 30 years later when a friend's daughter begged to stay home for the summer she was told she must attend camp because her mother needed a break. When I said you can both have a fun summer with activites at home lazy days at library, beach and pool times etc., I was told by the mother she needed the summer apart for her sanity, my mother's voice echoed in my head. As working class people when you started driving your mother crazy you were sent to grandma's house. Now as the grandmother I am eagerly awaiting the summer visit of my five year old grandson. We already have our traditions for the visit. In two years I am hoping the visit will be extended to a month. But that will depend on how long his mother can be apart from him. My husband wouldn't let our son visit grandma for more than three weeks because he missed him too much.

Posted by: grammy | July 15, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"Only parents who don't love their children send them away for the summer".

Judgmental much?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 15, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I loved Girl Scout camp as a kid and counted down until summer. My camp offered one and two week sessions only. (And they had finacial aid, which we really needed.)But when I became a counselor, I could stay all 4 weeks they were open. I was a shy kid, but never at camp.

The GS overnight camps are still reasonable, about $300, and offer more than mine did years ago. Camp Conowingo even offers horseback riding! (That session costs a little more, but not much.) Most daycamps cost about $200 a week (or more!), and that doesn't include any food.

GS suggests a short 3-day session the first year, then build up the next year if the kid is ready. My kids love it. They started at 7 or 8. Your kid doesn't need to be a Scout to go, either. Non-scouts are just charged an extra $10 to register them for GS insurance.

GS daycamp is less expensive, too, although the hours may not be as long as you need. I volunteer at one nearby for a week each summer and get partial reimbursement of the fees. And they're sure to put me in a different unit than my kids, so we can all have fun!

Posted by: Girl Scout | July 15, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Sending children to camp sounds fine, is excellent for their self-esteem, independence, meeting and coping with new friends & situations. My grandchildren are fortunate enough to go for a week to two different camps this year. When their mother was little, we went camping as a family on weekends, otherwise, camping was a sheet pinned to the doorknob and porch rail.

Posted by: ohio | July 16, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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