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Camp tales

From bookstores to the local club, everyone was holding ‘camps’ and most advocated that it was best for your child to spend a couple of hours, writes Shonali Ganguli.

india Updated: May 28, 2007 23:36 IST

The guilt pangs began on the last day of school. “Is she going to summer camp?” my five-year-old’s teacher asked me after the parent-teacher meeting. I answered in the negative and wondered whether that was the right thing to say. After all, we had just been handed a notice about the fun things our children could do — learn juggling, karate, cook, paint, dance etc. — on the school premises during their five-week break.

The remorse compounded in the next couple of days. From bookstores to the local club, everyone was holding ‘camps’ and most advocated that it was best for your child to spend a couple of hours improving herself rather than sitting at home. For working parents, it was peddled as the best solution at hand. Instead of your child spending hours in front of the TV while you couldn’t take her for a holiday, she was being given valuable and fun lessons.

So why didn’t I succumb? Well, I almost did. Except, a lot of family occasions during this time of the year meant a lot of socialising and my daughter and I were busy with cousins and other relatives. Well into the second week of her vacation in her spare time she has been pestering her aunts, playing with cousins and friends, cutting paper into abstract patterns and asking people to fashion paper boats for her. This, even while her friends enrolled in summer school have been gaining precious skills in making jewellery with beads, pottery, counting on the abacus and learning to write cursive (that this made it to the fun list was bad enough).

This week, I yielded — partly because of the unbearable heat — and have enrolled her in a swimming camp. Am I sure I wanted to do this? Well, I would rather have taken her swimming myself but that’s hardly possible for a working mom. But when I overheard a young mother complaining that “they weren’t teaching the kids anything,” I had reason to smile.

shonali@hindustantimes.com