Summer Day Camps

One morning late in the week I brought my laptop to the garden to get some writing done. I snapped this photo when the kids walked by. My eldest son is in the center, in the red shirt.

Last week my boys participated in a summer day camp at the botanical garden! It was so much fun!

My eldest son has participated in local summer and winter day camps since he was five-years-old. Last year, my six-year-old was five and could finally enroll in one of the summer camps at the botanical garden, which was a week-long half-day camp. He was very nervous about it,  but he ended up loving it. Then he got to attend the three-day spring camp there with his brother this year too.

When my eldest son was five, there were several mini-camps available at the nature center, and I’m sad those don’t seem to be available anymore. He participated in a lot of those, and I feel a little bad that my younger son doesn’t get to participate in as many programs as his older brother did, but I guess it all evens out when you consider all the extra things he does get to do because he has an older brother, and his older brother didn’t have those opportunities.

Getting ready to leave for camp in the a.m.

I think camps are especially useful for homeschoolers because the kids get to interact with regular school kids. There are tons of different summer day camps. Whatever your child is interested in, there is probably a camp for it. You just have to try them out and see what you like best.

My son is a big nature boy, so we tried a week-long camp at the nature center two years ago (which they still offer), but it was not a good fit after all. My son didn’t like it and said he’d never go back. We’ve also done pottery camps (very good!) and a robotics camp (mediocre), but we love the botanical garden camps the best. Usually we let him do two camps each year, but this year we needed to save money, so we let each boy pick one camp each. They wanted to go back to the botanical garden, and they also picked the same week, which helped cut down on driving for us.

My six-year-old performed in a skit with his group at the end of the week for the parents. He’s sitting down in the orange and white striped shirt.

Even though they took the camp together, they were separated into different groups by age, which I’m glad about. Sometimes the boys can use some time away from each other!

This year’s camp was titled Forest Explorers and Early Civilizations. The kids learned about ancient cultures and how they used the forests for survival. I also love the botanical garden camps because my boys get a good dose of nature while they attend, and since the garden limits how many kids can attend, it’s not an overwhelming experience. Plus, I think the garden staff takes care of the kids better than in other programs they’ve attended.

I love the orchids and always take photos of them whenever I’m at the garden.

This was the first time I was going to have a whole week without both boys to take care of, so I was planning to get so. much. done. I was so excited. Unfortunately, I got sick right before the camp, and all I wanted after that was for both boys to stay healthy so that they could complete the camp. So I took great pains to not expose my germs to them. It paid off because they made it through the whole camp. Yay!

But I got very little done. 😦 Oh well. At least I was able to rest, and I can always look forward to next year.

In the Heat of Summer

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on July 29, 2015.

I don’t know about you, but it’s always around late July that I start looking forward to fall weather. It’s so hot and humid that whenever I muster enough motivation to go outside, I feel like I’m walking through soup. That takes the fun out of being outside.

It’s also this time of year that our garden suffers the most. Even with all the rain that Georgia has been getting, we seem to live in a dry bubble, and though we water every evening, the plants are starting to play dead. Certainly there are other things I could do to help the garden, but lack of time and the heat makes that a small priority.

If I had my way, I think I would just read all summer. Right now I’m reading Memoirs of a Keisha. It’s been on my bookshelf for only fifteen years, and I’m so glad I’m getting around to reading it. Most evenings I’m staying up past my bedtime because I can’t put it down, which means during the day I’m kind of sluggish, but I can also blame that on the heat, right?

I wonder what my boys might think about someday when they look back on their summers of youth. My guess might be gardening, however pitiful of a garden it might be, playing with their water squirt toys, listening to the loud cacophony of frogs out their bedroom windows at night, fresh fruit (my eight-year-old loves fruit), and summer camps.

Summer means camps. My eight-year-old has been going to day camps for several years now, and he loves them. He gets to pick whichever two camps he’d like to attend, and so far, one of the camps at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is always a must. They run some great programs out there. Last year the one he attended was about water and water animals. This year it was about Georgia critters.

He also picked a robotics camp run by Engineering for Kids in Northeast Georgia. The camp was held last week at the Sims Academy of Technology and Innovation – what a wonderful facility. My son had a great time in the camp and seemed to learn a lot, especially since one of his friends also attended the camp.

Though we couldn’t afford more than two camps for him this year, he has also picked a pottery camp at Good Dirt Studios in Athens before, and those are excellent camps as well. He told me the other day that next year he wants a pottery camp again.

My five-year-old attended his very first camp this year, so that was extra special. Since he loves art, we picked the art and music camp at the botanical garden for him. He told me he was scared of attending camp but also a little excited. After the first day, however, those fears melted away, and he wanted to go everyday. He even participated in a performance with the other kids on the very last day.

Now that camps are over, it is time to think about bringing this “school” year to a close. I always celebrate that by showing the boys a slideshow of what they did during the year. I’m also busy at work planning for next year’s curriculum, and now that my eldest will be in the third grade, we are going to have a lot to do. We’re transitioning to a higher level of learning and that is exciting, though a little nerve-wracking, for me.

But we still have August to swelter in, and I have a couple of birthdays to plan too. Time is moving very swiftly, and while I wish it would slow down, I wouldn’t mind that cooler weather getting here a little faster.

What are your summers filled with?


P.S. In the coming weeks, I’m going to try to wrap up some of our homeschooling activities for the year on the blog as this is one of the mediums I use for record-keeping. So look out for some posts about robotics, our history timeline, a make-believe grocery store, and more.


Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on July 16, 2014.

Last summer flew by, and I hardly had time to stop and think about it. That was probably because it started out with a long emergency trip to Chicago to help my mother-in-law who had been in a car accident. (She’s okay now.) In addition to that, my son was in several summer camps, and while I enjoyed hanging out in town with my younger son, it just felt like the summer went by in a blink.

I’m happy this summer has been a little different. Though it’s been quite busy, and I’ve had work to do, and I’m driving my son to and from camps frequently, I’ve been a little more intentional about taking breaks too.

I’ve scheduled less play dates, I’m reading a good book, and I sit on the front porch sipping iced tea for a few minutes each day. I’ve even started sketching as I’ll explain in a moment. So we’re half way through summer now, and I feel like I’ve had a few chances to pause, look around, and enjoy it.

My seven-year-old attended three summer camps this year. It’s the first time he has been old enough to attend the full-day camps that go from about 9a.m. to 3:30 or 4. Last year he was in half-day camps. All of them have been great experiences for him.

It’s felt strange to be at home without him all day. As homeschoolers, we’re used to having our kids around all the time. It makes the day quieter to have just one boy at home, and it’s nice to give the four-year-old my full attention when he wants it, though he likes to play by himself too.

My seven-year-old’s favorite camps were the pottery camp at Good Dirt Studio in Athens, and the camp at the botanical garden.

Though he liked the camp at the nature center, he doesn’t care to go swimming, and he came home each day quiet and exhausted from not eating enough. I was happy that the folks at the botanical garden seemed to take a little better care of him by making sure he was eating and drinking. (Or maybe my reminders before camp finally got through to him.)

Each day after the botanical garden camp, he was full of energy and gave us a full account of his day, which, as he told me, was full of everything he liked to do, such as wading through streams to catch fish with a net, taking hikes, watching puppet shows, and touring the green houses. He even got to bring home a little plant.

We’ve had a few chances to go on family hikes, and we’ve hiked with just the four-year-old while his older brother was in camp. Because my four-year-old loves drawing so much, I got him a sketchbook and one for myself too. Even though I can’t draw worth a hoot, sitting down by some flowers to sketch them has been quite relaxing. It’s helped me slow down and enjoy the summer.

I have helped my older son create and build numerous things, but I was feeling like I was leaving his younger brother out. I love that our sketchbook habit encourages his interest and gives us something to do together. Though lately he has wanted me to sketch something for him so that he can color it – oh well. That’s good too. It’s his sketchbook, so he gets to choose what goes into it.

Now that camps are over, I’m glad to have half the summer before us to sketch and make things and take day trips. I will continue doing reading lessons with my oldest boy, and I plan to review this past year with him one day over a slideshow and give him a “certificate of completion” for the first grade. We also have birthdays in the August – I have no idea what we’ll do for that, but I know we’ll have fun.

I hope your summer is not too hot, just long enough, and full of relaxing moments.