Pure Camp

June 30, 2008 at 11:11 am 2 comments

This morning, throughout Forest Hills, you could see families along the sidewalks waiting on buses to take children to their first day of camp. Excitement and nervousness were palpable, along with the occasional kid-to-parent rudeness that comes with any transition (parents always make great punching bags when kids don’t know what to expect).

There are several large-draw camps for our neighborhood. A lot of kids head out to Beth Shalom in Roslyn in Long Island, a giant synagogue that transforms its parking lot into a play and sports area. There’s also a pool and indoor facilities, so the whole package is not unlike many other NYC “camp” experiences. (I grew up north of the city, where camp means camp in a fuller sense, so I’m still adjusting to the term being used in a more urban environment.) I hear good things about Beth Shalom, but it isn’t a possibility for my kids because they’re prone to motion sickness and the bus ride is easily a half hour without traffic. That’s also the reason why we can’t consider the Y’s camp, where kids are bused out to another part of Long Island for fresh air, swimming, and a daily dose of ice pops or other processed ice cream products.

Instead, we went with the other big game in town, Queens College. This is my son’s first summer there, and so far, I think it’s going to work out okay for everyone involved. Without traffic, it’s an 8-minute car ride away—there’s also bus service, but then the trip becomes more like 40 minutes, which would pretty much guarantee my kid throwing up a few times a week. Anyway, he’ll spend mornings in an indoor class (we chose a more academic theme so he doesn’t get rusty over the summer) and play sports and swim in the afternoon.

I was up at 6, thinking, “How organized am I,” because I went out for a walk, picked up some eggs and milk, and had breakfast on the table by 7:15. Got the kid up and asked-cajoled-ordered him to eat, get dressed, and do all the other things kids need to do before starting a long day away from home. We arrived at the Queens College campus at 8:30, which I thought was pretty good for perpetually late me, because camp starts at 9.

Wrong, as usual. It started at 8, which really took me aback. I mean, he starts school for 10 months of the year at 8:15, so I was looking forward to a few weeks of our taking things a bit slower, later. Poor thing missed softball, 8 o’clock on the field. I can’t even imagine it, but there they were, kids swatting that ball bright and early. I brought my son to his second-period activity, the start of the academic segment of the day, and then proceeded to have a series of what-if conversations: What if we are late and arrive at 9? What if we are late every day and arrive at 9?

The staff I encountered today at QC’s camp was great. They totally got that I wasn’t keen on the idea of getting him there at 8 (though I will if that’s what he wants) and worked with me on a plan for bringing him to his “classroom” every day at 9. No small feat, mind you, because Queens College is huge and just orienting yourself should earn you a camper of the year award.


Entry filed under: Forest Hills.

Last Day on Stockpiled Metro Cards End of an Era

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Roe  |  June 30, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    An 8 a.m. start? Yeesh, let the kids have a break! My son just started camp today, too; he’ s at the Vanderbilt Y in NYC (a 10-minute walk from my job) and they open their doors at 8, but programs start at 9. Which is a good thing, because we were running, as usual, to be there on time. Sigh…

  • 2. karbeth  |  June 30, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Sigh is right. Getting into Manhattan with the kid–now there’s a challenge!


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