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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Make plans now if you want happy campers this summer



I hate to be a nag. (Wait, that's not true. I nag all the time. So I really don't mind being a nag, I just hate to be thought of as one.) Whatevs. My point is, I hate to be a nag, but now is a good time to think about summer camps if you want to secure a spot in some of the better ones.

Mom_meatballsAs that classic art house Bill Murray film, Meatballs, implores us, Are ready for the summer?

Not a year goes by in our newsroom when some editor who doesn't have children asks about three weeks before school lets out if we should do a story on summer camps. I then proceed to laugh in his face and tell him what every Momma knows: The time for planning summer camps was months ago. If you don't have your plans nailed down by April, you are out of luck, Chuck.

Even though I have our summer plans pretty much mapped out, I like to throw in a fun camp or two to give the kids a week of learning disguised as fun. But too often the really fun camps don't need to advertise, so I'm not even aware of them until they've long since filled up the spots and have started a long waiting list.

One of our hopes with the Whoa, Momma! blog and the Go Momma Web site has been to use it as a way for us harried parents to clue each other in. So if anyone has some recommendations, I'm all ears. And this spring, our sister publication Go Momma magazine is publishing a 2009 Summer Camp and Activity Guide. Look for it at these locations by the end of this month.

In the meantime, Times staff writer Leonora LaPeter Anton wrote last year about how she packs her daughter's summers with interesting and affordable experiences. Leonora is legendary for her ability to piece together a fabulous summer for her daughter like a quilt full of sports, animals, camping and music. And she does it while working full time, which isn't easy, what with after-care costs or camps that end in early afternoon. In my next life, I want to come back as Leonora's kid.

Among the routes to consider:

Perhaps you choose the less complicated and more economical route of a summer-long program at a city recreation center, St. Petersburg College's College for Kids or the YMCA.

Most camps cost an average of $120 a week but some run more than $200 a week, and the city-sponsored camps are typically the least expensive.

Read Leonora's article for a good guide. She starts thinking about where to send her daughter in March because she found that even in early April, it's too late for some of the better ones.

So your job now, my dear Mommas,  is reconnaissance. Start asking other moms what they have loved or hated in past summers and get your name in early to the good ones. And tell us what you think about summer camps you've gone to in the past and why your kids will (or will not) be going back.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Photo: Meatballs (1979) HBO Studios]

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:59am]


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