As you proceed to read this post, you may at some point begin to wonder why I chose to name it so. After all, it does NOT talk about the dime-a-dozen summer camps that seem to have mushroomed overnight in Gurgaon. It does NOT talk about how summer camps have become a rage with suburban parents. And it certainly does NOT talk about all the ‘fun’ activities that summer camps offer. Ostensibly to keep your children ‘creatively engaged’ lest they ‘dream away the summer holidays’.
What it DOES talk about is summer camp of another kind – the kind most of us went to when we were little – @home. Call me old-fashioned (you can even accuse me of not keeping up with the times) but I see little sense in sending my three-year-old (some camps even enrol one-and-half year olds!) in the searing heat for art and craft or gym activities. I’d rather let my three-year-old just be.
Do we really need to tailor –make his days? I’d rather let him enjoy the whole idea of a summer holiday – with complete abandon, no structure, no timetables. Only then will he learn discipline. I’d rather given him time and space to do whatever he wants to do away from his school environment. Only then will he value school life and the simple pleasures that come with it – riding on the school bus, sharing his lunch box with friends, or playing in the sand pit. I’d rather let him create his own activities in the confines of his cool room (or as cool as I can make it with the summe
r sun pushing up the mercury to 45 degrees!) Only then will he learn to manage his time. Let him even stare into space, if he wants to. Only then will he learn to use his imagination and explore the wonderful world of make-believe.
Let him feel the intensity of hot summer days, the stillness in the air, and the idleness of each passing hour. Let him yearn for the setting sun and the promise it brings; of a game of ball in the park, taking a dip in the splash pool, cycling with friends or feeding a stray dog. Only then will he appreciate the camaraderie between friends, the joy of getting dirty, even a sense of pride in showing of his latest injury (a scraped knee) or something as inane as enjoying a glass of cold milk.
After all, weren’t most of our childhood days filled with inane, simple joys? Just regular stuff that any childhood is made of. Hide and seek. Playing house. Playing pretend. Climbing trees. Sharing glasses of cold lemonade with friends. Hosing down the garden, the dog, and oneself. Gobbling homemade mango ice-cream. Plucking raw mangoes from the neighbour’s prized tree. Topped off with a visit to the grandparents where other aunts, uncles, and cousins would join the summer fiesta. Just ordinary, regular stuff. Simple, pure fun. Most of us lived it. And were none the worse for it.
These were summer camps of another kind. The kind that lived on in our memories long after they were over. The kind that showed us that just as there are lessons to be learned in school, or a gym class, or a hobby class, there are equally valuable lessons to be learned from the ordinary, simple things in life.
Maybe few years down the line, when my son turns seven or even eight, I’d probably start thinking of channelizing his energies, so to say. When he is better able to understand the words he can spell, maybe summer camp would make better sense. Till then, I’d rather just let him be what he is – a happy, active, regular, three-year-old!