Another Monday, another summer camp for my daughter. Fortunately, this is the one she loves most; otherwise, I'd be concerned that this whole camp thing would be old by now.
As an older parent of an only child, I've been conscious of the need to place my daughter in a variety of social situations from the time she was very young. I hated the idea of putting my infant in day care, but there were no other options (trust me, I checked. Obsessively.)
But day care taught me a lesson. Quality programs for kids can be an absolute blessing. My daughter has grown up with not only a healthy respect for younger children, but a magnetic attraction toward them as well. Many of my friends kindly credit my husband and me (as a school counselor, I have a tendency toward the same resepct and magnetic attraction), but I credit her day care setting, and one marvelous, loving teacher (thank you, Miss Amy) in particular.
Miss Amy's classroom was a warm, caring place because Miss Amy is a warm, caring person. In her classroom, children treated each other kindly, and outside of her classroom, they treated younger children kindly because they had a role model who showed them that was how it was done, and who simply expected nothing less.
My daughter has long since outgrown daycare, but she goes to several week-long day camp programs, nearly all of them sports-oriented, each summer for several reasons. First and foremost, they are camps that interest her and keep her active, which means she doesn't spend half the day watching television and the other half telling me she's bored. Second, having my daughter happily occupied gives me a chance to focus on my own summer job - my writing -without feeling that I am neglecting her. Finally, these camps put her in the midst of other kids, forcing my only child to step out of her comfort zone and into the social circle.
We've been blessed to have never had a bad camp experience - at least so far. Sure, there were some she was happy to see end, but every camp offered something, whether it was educational, instructional, athletic or social. And each camp, in its own way, broadened her horizons, and taught her something about the world outside her only child existence.