Summer Camp!

IMG_4567As we wrap up Summer Camp for Zoe, I realized I don’t think I’ve shared the joy that is Monarch Camp here in the blog yet. Oh, what you’re missing.

Remember any bad “camp” movie from the 80s, remove the ‘overnight’ portion (since Zoe just goes to day camp), and you’ll get a sense of the chaos that is camp.

The picture above is from the last day of camp this year. It was “Color Celebration Day”, and here’s how the camp alerts parents to the particular brand of chaos they are serving up daily:

Color Celebration
During our color celebration, we will be having a powder paint party. The powder paint is easily washed off but will stick to your camper’s clothing. We ask that your campers bring an additional change of clothes if they would like to participate.

If you would not like your camper to participate in the powder paint festivities, please send an email so that we may arrange an alternative fun filled activity for them.

That was copy/pasted verbatim content. Here’s my take on what it should have read:

During our huge mess celebration, we will be throwing things at your child which will NOT COME OFF their clothing (or their shoes, though we’re not going to mention that). Since they will clearly get paint all over your car on the way home – and who knows where else! – we ask that your campers bring an additional change of clothes, only in case they are wimps from the paint throwing and start to cry, because there’s no way they are going to be willing to take their paint-filled clothing off before getting in your car.

If you would not like your camper to participate in the powder paint festivities, please send an email to us so we can put your kid in the dunce corner, where they will cry and complain until you come to pick them up (and we will have written evidence that you are the one who stole their fun, not us).

Now scroll back up to that picture, which was just before Zoe got into our car on Color Celebration Day, and tell me my take wasn’t the more honest one. She was not alone.

To make things “easier” for parents, they send an email each week with a preview – and THEME – for each day of the upcoming week. These themes have ranged from “crazy hair day” to “Wear either Yellow Clothing or coordinate the same outfit with a friend for Twin Day”. It’s the little, simple things parents love to do.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am all for making things fun. And believe me, I AM the mother who ensures when it’s Orange Day that there’s orange on our child, but on “Dress up as a character day”, I had to put my foot down. The night before, literally as she was going to bed, Zoe wanted to go out and buy a dinosaur costume so she could be like a dinosaur from a show. Um, no.

And honestly, camp is SHEER CHAOS. I have only picked her up a few times (camp is very close to our house, so Bart gets that job), but he will attest to this being a daily reality. There are kids, backpacks and “I’m not even old enough to drive but I am responsible for your child” counselors with glitter on their faces EVERYWHERE in this massive field where they congregate at the end of the day. My nightmare would be having to spend a week attending this camp.

First job when you arrive to pick her up? FINDING HER. They are loosely grouped by age but with some games in the common area in the center. It’s a live Where’s Waldo.

On your way out, they check your ID to make sure you’re not stealing one of these filthy, sassy-infused children, and they hand your child a wooden token, which s/he hands to the “guard counselor” (also not old enough to vote) sitting at a desk on the way out.

Between checkout and guard there are countless boxes of “lost and found” items: towels, clothes, water bottles, lunch boxes, you name it. Oh, and a small room where they sell 5 different popsicles, as though your amped up child needs any more energy.

This is Zoe’s 3rd year attending Monarch Camp summer session (and she’s attended a winter session, too), so you may be asking why in the world we keep doing that… Good question. And I do have an answer!

Though she comes home EVERY DAY absolutely disgustingly dirty, destroys a backpack every summer with sunscreen, grass and sand all over the inside AND outside, loses 2-4 water bottles (which are not cheap items) and begs every day to wear a bikini (also no), she loves it. She comes home tired, with stories about her friends, and those 16-year-old “counselors” hug her, praise her, teach her sassy things (not a fan of that part), and make her feel special.

They also have a field trip every week, which takes her twice a season to Zuma Beach in Malibu, has taken her to the aquarium, science center, a few movies and more. Imagine the opportunity of getting to do that with your friends, on a bus, once a week. Heck, I wish I had summer camp…

In addition, they swim every single day. For “classic camp” they swim twice a day and for gymnastics, fine arts and theater arts camps they swim once. And swimming is good.

As part of the Theater Arts camp she attended for a few of the weeks this summer, they had a Variety Show where kids could participate and perform. Our kid is nothing if not a performer, and thankfully Bart captured the following on video to memorialize the moment:

Variety Show


You go, Zoe.

Anyway, as summer camp ends we prepare for Zoe to start SECOND GRADE on Tuesday. I can’t even. Hopefully, she got her wiggles out over the past several weeks of chaos and can buckle down to actually learn some stuff at school. We shall see!

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