Recently, there was a message in circulation on WhatsApp about summer camps that questioned the utility of the same. I put here some excerpts from that message ‘why can’t a kid sleep a bit extra, play with his friends in his apartment, eat well, rest well and visit his relatives and friends?…….Kids have a right to sleep late, watch movies, cartoons, play endlessly, visit places and just be at home…..’
The message was written well and went viral almost instantly. In all my groups there was at least one person who posted that message. But that made me wonder why these summer camps have mushroomed so much so that they are being conducted anyone and everyone?
In that WhatsApp message parents were reminded how they spent their summer vacations without such camps. It’s right that our generation didn’t require any summer camp. But then, we had following things to look forward to.
- We had our nani house to spend half of our vacations in.
- We had comic books available on rent that we could read and exchange, which meant maximum variety on minimum cost.
- We had outdoor games and by outdoor games I don’t mean the ones children play in sports complexes with proper coaching and technicalities. I mean the ones that we used to play on our streets.
- We had our cousins visiting us for some days and for the next some days we would visit our favourite mamiji or chachaji or tayaji.
- We had bicycles on rent. This renting thing, apart from offering variety, had several other benefits as well like it would make us value a product, inculcate patience in us, encourage the spirit of sharing and wouldn’t allow us to take things for granted.
Relatives and relationships both have changed
Except from the spending time in nani house all other things have become past. Even nani house visit have been shortened from what it used to be. Families have become compact, life has become fast leaving no space for extended stays. To make the matters worse, show-off has crept in. These factors have collectively made stays at relatives’ place burdensome. Having said that, I would like each one of us to introspect as to how many of us today want guests or relatives’ children to come at place to stay for days or weeks? Or for that matter keeping in mind the changed social conditions, how many of us would really send our children to stay at a relative’s place?
Anything non-electronic is stone-aged
Dearness has inflated so have the salaries and egos, which has almost wiped out the trend of renting out books or cycles. The craze, availability and accessibility of electronic and digital gadgets have increased to such an extent that anything non-digital is being rendered redundant – comics, slates and boards being a few of such items. Today, a two-year old kid learns rhymes, alphabets and numbers through his iPad, laptop or similar gadgets.
When we look around we see so much of advertising and concern about imparting reading habits in children. But we must observe that all this propaganda is needed because kids these days prefer gadgets over books and magazines. After all they get soft version of books also so why wouldn’t they carry only one gadget that has it all of their interest. Saying it doesn’t intend to put all the digital advancement in a negative light. But what’s needed to be understood is that earlier the need to advertise about the benefits of reading wasn’t felt like it’s being felt today because earlier there weren’t too many distractions in the forms of gadgets or electronic devices.
My generation would have a fixed time slot for kids programs because of which the time to watch television was automatically regularised. Whereas today, we have cartoons and kids programs airing 24/7, the least they do is to educate and the most they do is to permeate addiction.
It would not be never fair to compare our childhood with our children’s childhood. The society changes beyond recognition from one generation to another. But what we must understand is that the changed times bring with them changed problems and changed solutions.
Three hours off the gadgets
Today most parents complain they their kids spend of their free time either watching television or playing games on cell phones and play stations. Most of the parents these days are working and families nuclear. And it’s humanely not possible for them to be after their child all the time but at the same time they want their kids to indulge in something constructive. So they prefer sending their kids to summer camps over spoiling them by watching besides an idiot box all-day long.
Excess of everything is bad – it applies everywhere. We mustn’t expect tangible results all the time. Sometimes it’s just okay to see your child participating in an activity because he wants to try something. It’s unfair to always attach with him the baggage of results.
I think the base of the whole argument against the practise of sending kids to summer camps lies in over burdening the child in the name of extracurricular activities, which is true undoubtedly. We must send our children to summer camps so that they have a good time while learning something new and not because just like school they have to perform in their summer classes as well. Moreover, these summer classes are for not more than 3 hours a day and that too for 20-25 days out of around 40 holidays. So, practically there’s nothing barbaric that we are doing to our kids.
I advocate summer camp and what I look forward by sending my ward to a summer camp is his good time and constructive activities off the gadgets and sans aimless wandering.
Nukkad summer camps
One more important thing to remember is that we should enroll our wards in a summer camp that offers activities of their choice and has trained staff and not in the one whose only advantage is that it’s at our door step.