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When summer vacation turns to summer camp

Chitra V. Ramani

Parents prefer to send their children to summer camps instead of to their grandparents’ place during holidays


Children get to learn new skills and have a chance to interact with peers

If children are forced to go to camps, they will be reluctant to learn any activity


— Photo: K. Gopinathan

Fun time: Children at an art camp at Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore. Summer is the time for young children when they get to learn new skills at summer camps.

Bangalore: Bhumika, a four-year-old, wails as her mother adjusts her swimmer’s cap to ensure her little ears are covered. “I want to go home,” she cries. Her mother coaxes her and pushes her towards the other howling children who have lined up beside the swimming pool.

Bhumika and her swimming pals are among the hundreds of children who are sent to various summer camps during their two-month vacation.

Deepthi Mohan, Bhumika’s mother, believes children do not know what is good for them. “It is our job. I admitted her into the swimming camp because it is a good exercise. She will get accustomed to it in a few days,” she said.

A good thing…

C.V. Suchetha, a doctor, feels it is good that many parents these days are sending their children to summer camps. “In most families, both parents are working professionals. They may not like to leave behind their ward alone at home. By getting them into camps, they can be rest assured that the children are occupied for at least part of the day and not wasting time watching television,” she said.

… but caution

However, she maintained that parents should not force the child to go to summer camps. If children are forced to go to summer camps, they will be reluctant to learn any activity. About parents sending their child to many camps during the two-month vacation, Dr. Suchetha said it is usually the ambitious parents who force their children to attend as many camps as possible. “Children should be allowed to enjoy the break. They only have two months, as the rest of the year, they hardly have time to do anything other than school work,” she added.

Madhushri K.V., a homemaker, has an understanding with her daughter. “We have decided that she can go to a summer camp for a month, and spend the other month with her grandparents in Shimoga. My daughter, Rakshitha, is attending a summer camp for the first time. She chose the camp. We did not want to force her into anything,” she said.

She said that her daughter wanted to join the summer camp because her friends from school were also attending the same camp. “Most of her classmates are going to at least two camps. We did not want to burden her during the vacation time when she should ideally be resting. We were happy she chose swimming camp and supported her decision,” she said.

Conducive environment

C.G. Nagaraj, a technician with a multinational company, agreed. “We, as parents, have the responsibility to create a conducive environment for our children to learn. They should be inquisitive and take up activities with enthusiasm. Pushing the child will not motivate him/her to learn and acquire new skills,” he said.

Mr. Nagaraj said that parents, at the end of the day, only wanted their wards to be healthy and happy. “What use is the camp if the child is unhappy being there in the first place? The problem arises when parents feel that their child should be exposed to things and activities they were not. Children should be allowed sometime to rest and go to camps they want to,” he added.

R.G. Swaminath, professor of psychiatry, Ambedkar Medical College, maintained that the notion that double-income parents send their children to camps because they can be assured of their safety is not entirely justified. “Families have been going nuclear for the past many years. There is a positive aspect to sending children to summer camps. Children get to learn new skills and have a chance to interact with peers.”

Packaging activities

One of the main concerns for parents is that child should not waste time. “These days everything is packaged. The summer camps have also caught on to the trend and are packaging their activities.” He also said that one should not always say that the parents were forcing the children to attend camps. “Children may want to go to the camps if their friends are going; then the demand is more from the child’s side. This way, he/she gets to enjoy and continue the peer interaction he/she has enjoyed at school,” he added.

A child psychologist, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu it is a lot of work taking care of children. “Summer camps are a sure way of harnessing the child’s energy. Earlier, there would be someone to take care of the child during vacations. That is not possible in the present-day family situation,” she said.

She also said that in the past, the child’s immediate needs were not central to the day-to-day activities of the household.

“This has changed. It has come to a point where schedules and work have begun to revolve around the child’s needs. We now see an extreme sort of situation — one with a lot of focus on the child.”

She said that though the child’s likes and dislikes are now a priority, parents do not have the time to personally attend to it.

“There are many means now available by which that can be accomplished without the parents’ actual presence. Summer camps are just one of the tools, which solves so many issues of working parents,” she added.

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