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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Over-Ambitious Summer Camps

summer-campMany are the driven parents among us, those intent on exposing their sons and daughters to the most experiences and education life has to offer.  Occasionally, we take it to extremes.

Take, for example, the case of summer camp.  Once a lazy, sun-struck time of swimming, canoeing, relaxing and making new friends, the long days of day camp currently take into account parents’ working and commuting hours. The kids come home each night to crash, change their clothes, grab a bag lunch, while paying prices that used to include a cabin on the lake, and three square meals a day.  Yet, most of all, the camp_dixie_summer_campcamps these days stretch young people to build impressive resumes, based on the attainment of ever-increasing skills and abilities.

It’s more about get-up-and-go than kick-back-and-relax.

There’s computer camp, animation camp, film camp, foreign language camp, spy camp, cooking camp, science camp, nature conservancy camp, paramilitary camp, theatre camp, writers’ workshop camp, math camp, ROTC camp, space camp, sports camp, and so AnimalSummerCampsmuch more.  If you’re not improving yourself and learning something marketable, you might as well be at home watching TV and waiting for the ice cream truck to make its neighborhood rounds.

In our neighborhoods, I don’t even see most of the kids during the summer.

Our children have been plugging away at homeschool this summer, still making up for years lost in the Russian system until they were adopted at older ages.  We give them breaks, and special excursions, and they’ll have a fabulous trip abroad for a couple of weeks in the fall, so we need to keep them moving forward in the academics.  We’re doing some targeted writing projects to improve their expressive English, and keeping other languages simmering on the back burner.  They read books, and watch movies, and go kieve-maine-summer-camp-sailingto the beach, while  our oldest, Petya, studies for the SAT and racks up hours in archaeology.

But still… they dream of camp….

Surprisingly, their experience with an adventure camp fell short of all of our expectations.  The horseback riding, rock climbing, and zip lines were okay, but not exactly what the website’s glossy brochure promised.

Snoopy_and_Woodstock_campingWhat they really enjoyed was Russian camp, run by a local group that takes Russian-speaking kids up to the mountains for one week of old-fashioned fun.  You know:  arts and crafts, singing around the campfire, awards for the neatest cabin (with the boys never winning, no matter how hard they “tried”, lol), home-cooked Eastern European fare, swimming, kicking around the soccer ball, early-morning bugle calls followed by zariyadki (calisthenics) in the cool air, Bible studies and motivational talks by college-age counselors and young marrieds.

Our oldest got to drink chai and feel like a young adult.  Our youngest was asked to keep an eye out for aadventurecamp couple’s toddler upon occasion.  Each grew in their independence and interaction, not to mention Russian language ability… just by hanging out.  Within their loose structure of daily activities, there was enough time to think, write in a journal, stare at the mountains, and have water balloon fights.

Hard as it is for me to admit, downtime can be educational, too.  If we can swing it and coordinate all of our schedules, I think they may be heading back there for a week later this summer.

What do your kids like to do to take a break?


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