This Is The Saga That Never Ends

I need a vacation from driving my kids to summer camps.
During the non-summer months, getting kids fed/groomed/dressed and to school on time each morning is a dreadful, exhausting process layered in stress and rage and chaos. Nothing comes easily at 6:45 on a cold, dark Tuesday morning in December—and nothing is where it should be. Backpacks, lunch bags, shoes, the kids themselves. Nothing runs smoothly. Everything is a struggle. Often, there is much yelling involved. It is unpleasant.

Summer mornings, though. Summer mornings are supposed to be different. More carefree, more chill, fewer stress-induced aneurysms. But I am here to announce that they are NOT. Summer mornings in America in 2017 are somehow worse. More stressful. More chaotic.

That is because summer has been transformed into an endless string of weekly “camps” for the kids. It did not used to be like this, of course—back in the ’80s.

Those were more reasonable times. We had basically two viable camp options back then on the north side of Indianapolis. We had, like, camp camp—the outdoorsy, 4,000-degree cabin-sleeping murder-movie camp at some cottonmouth-infested lake in Cloverdale or Columbus, with rope swings and broken femurs and canoeing and all that neat old-timey stuff. Camp Lyme Disease™ it may as well have been called—there were a few of them scattered about, and they were all relatively the same. Those were the best.

We also had North Central Basketball Camp for a week, which was also quite fun. And that was it. Those were our camp options.

Now? Now every high school and every public or private institution and company and fruit stand has a weekly basketball camp, and also a soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse, sports-management, painting, cooking, map-making, theater, computer coding, computer hacking, PlayStation, speech writing, corn hole, jousting, alchemy, fantasy football, bronze-smithing, mathematics, Bible, fox hunting, astronomy, and slime-making camp, to name only a few. It is preposterous.
More than that, though, it is a racket—and us parents are the marks. These things aren’t cheap.

Here’s how the shakedown works: It only takes one kid in a circle of friends to sign up for, say, “Drone Piloting Camp” at Whole Foods on 86th for the week, then all of the kids are going—lest the resisting parents look like Ma & Pa Deadbeats Who Want Their Children to Fail in Drone-Piloting, i.e., Life. It is peer pressure that fuels the scam, plain and simple—the fat cats at BIG CAMP know this and prey on it relentlessly. Because after Drone Camp, it’s “Camp Laser Tag” or whatever at the Velodrome, then “Kickball Camp” at Butler the week after, and so forth and so on, until school restarts a million days from now.

These are not sleepover camps, either, or at least the vast majority of them aren’t—the overhead costs would cut into profits too much. No, they are drop-off-at-8:00/pick-up-at-4:00 camps, which is a hellish logistical nightmare that has created all new dimensions of chaos at my house, particularly with three kids at three very different camps in three very different locations every week.

Which brings it back to summer mornings in 2017, on the north side of Indianapolis at least, and how getting the kids fed/groomed/dressed and dropped off at their three different camps spread out across central Indiana is quickly giving me congestive heart failure. The grift is real, I’m telling you. It is time to resist. Next summer all my kids are attending Camp Get-A-Job, the end.