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A Summer Without Camps

In March, my husband claimed the front bedroom as his office while my son did his second grade work next to me at the table and I zoomed or participated in Google Meets with students. In April, we found our groove and knew that we could endure anything as long as summer was around the corner. Then in May my son’s summer camps were cancelled and it put us in a bit of a scramble. Now that summer is in full swing, we have to be creative with our daily routines so our son does not become a screen zombie.

To combat summer slide, but still give our son a great experience, we had to acknowledge everything we weren’t going to do. Along with our son, we made a wildly crazy list of things we wanted to do which included everything from the fun stuff to the house projects. We circled all that we felt we could do safely at home and within our budget. We crossed off the trip to the amusement park and the cross-country road trip for safety concerns and closures. We were disappointed at first, but we have found a happy medium that keeps us entertained and a lot more relaxed. Sometimes we think we have been overly cautious and should embrace life before quarantine, but summer isolation has taught us to get creative.

In the mornings, we dedicate an hour every day to math and reading. Right after lunch we always do an art project or a science project. Every day we pick one chore, set the timer and get it done in 15 minutes. In between, we alternate who chooses the activity. No activity takes longer than an hour unless we agree to keep playing. 

There is still the matter of meals and chores. We converted to paper plates and grilling. It still makes some mess, but most of our meals are now family created affairs. In the morning, we pack lunch and we can often take it with us for an impromptu picnic.

It isn’t exactly as we imagined a summer vacation. There are not a lot of meals out. Dad still works from home, Mom still has meetings and we do have a movie or a video game every afternoon. We know that we are extremely fortunate to be able to work from home.

As a family who was constantly on the go, being housebound was a challenge and then a blessing. Yesterday my son asked me to play a board game before breakfast, and the day before we tackled a house chore that had been there for over a year. We are proud of our tasks we accomplish and our son is becoming more independent. Perhaps in the safety of his home he has found the place he needs to try more things. Perhaps having a summer without the expectation of a big trip has been the remedy we needed to bring us closer together.

Danielle Howell Roland is a middle school English and Social Studies teacher. She is a mom to a 7-year-old boy who still thinks mud is a clothing accessory. Her family has two dogs, a few hairless “skinny” pigs and some backyard chickens that make her laugh. She reads whenever and wherever she can.