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Summer question: “To Camp, or Not to Camp”

Drop-off, work, pick-up, dinner, drop-off, band practice, softball, pick-up another one…

Wait… where’s your sister?

The mental image of a parent’s schedule: phew! We’re sure you’re just as ready for the summer as your kids are, but what are your thoughts on sending them away or keeping them close to the nest for the summer months? Is there an advantage to “scheduled free time” vs. sending them out to explore the outdoors for themselves?

KJ Dell’Antonia, editor and lead writer of the “Motherlode” blog in the The New York Times and Bruce Feiler, author of the This Life column for Sunday Styles in The New York Times and author of The Secret of Happy Families” discussed the reasons for and against extended overnight summer camps in a NYTimes opinion post titled: To Camp, or Not to Camp.

Growing up in Texas and Kansas, Dell’Antonia didn’t see the rationale for summer camps. She brought up the importance of your kids answering the daunting summertime question “What do I dooo-oooo” themselves.

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New Yorker by trade, Feiler believes his kids should escape the concrete jungle for the summer to experience all the activities camps bring, even if they are planned.

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Both have enticing arguments. It’s especially interesting considering they ultimately came to the same conclusion: They hope their kid spends the summer exploring and uses their free time to examine how they really enjoy spending their own time. This allows them to find who they are as growing people and becoming just a little more independent than they were last summer. Pretty deep for an exposé on summer camps, huh? Well we wanted to pose the question: What do you do when you think you’re kid isn’t spending his or her time as constructively as you’d like?

Away or near, it’s completely normal to fear that your kid is experimenting or doesn’t have the right answers to help them say no to peer pressures like underage drinking.

Parenting experts don’t know your kid like you know them. Whether you’re sending your kids to camps to meet new friends and be surrounded by an exciting environment, or keeping them in the neighborhood to scrape some knees, it’s important to have the conversation about taking care of their growing bodies. This includes talking with them about the dangers of underage drinking early and often. As each summer comes to a close, be looking forward. Each summer will bring new friends, new peer pressures and a new opportunity to talk with your kids about how to make healthy, sound decisions.

It’s important to answer the tough questions about peer pressure before they face it unprepared.

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Staying home this summer? Have they brought around new friends that you’re unsure have tried alcohol? Have your kids bring home their friends so you can get to know them. It’s important for them to surround themselves with positive influences.

Going away to camp? Have the conversation about the dangers of underage drinking before they leave. It’s important to discuss why underage drinking is so harmful and what they need to know to help them say NO when given the opportunity by their peers. A majority of summer camp is supervised, but you’re not there to answer questions. It’s important to equip them with the necessary tools before they head off.

Have questions? Check out our resources and our conversation starters to help you bring up how to say “Yes” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking. And let’s not forget parents are the leading influence in their kid’s decision to drink, or not to drink alcohol.

Have older kids? We’ve got the tools for you to help them make smart decisions at

Check out the full article in The New York Times here!