You can learn a lot about a school or a summer camp by the questions they ask on their registration form.
Is your child eager to attend camp? Or are they being “urged”?
Translation: We know some of you folks don’t give your kids any choice; please give us a heads up if that’s the case, so that when the kid refuses to participate or acts like a total jerk, we’ll at least have an inkling of why that might be.
Is your child aware of the educational and religious aspects of camp?
Translation: Please, please, please don’t make us to be the ones to tell your kids that they’re expected to pray after each meal and attend a class or two a week. It’s really best to start getting them used to the idea sooner rather than later.
Tell us about your child. What strategies work best for you?
Translation: We’ll only have your kid for eight weeks at the most, probably more like four. We don’t have time to waste on trial and error—and we want everyone to have a good time. Just tell us what to do with your kid so we can get on with having fun this summer.
Please describe any dietary issues or restrictions.
Translation: We want to know about allergies, obviously. We also want to know whether your kid is going to be one of the picky ones eating jam on bread for every meal. Does your kid eat vegetables at all? Are they super picky? On an all-carb diet? The more you tell us now, the more accurately we can order food to prevent waste. Otherwise we’ll be dumping chicken fingers down the gully every Wednesday night, and that never ends well. Just ask our custodian, Armless Joe.
Does your child take any medications to assist them with focus or attention?
Translation: We know that at least a third of the campers probably take ADHD meds during the year. You could answer “no”, but we’ll figure it out as soon as we meet the kids, so you might as well come clean now.
Are there any medications your child takes during the school year that they will not be taking at camp?
Translation: We know how tempting it is to take your child off their meds at camp. Please think carefully about whether that’s a good idea. For heaven’s sake, do you have any idea what it’s like to have four out of twelve campers in a cabin who are off their meds for the summer? You have seen your kid off their meds, haven’t you? Do you really wish that, times four, on a couple of eighteen-year-old counsellors?
Yes, I’ve sent in applications for three of my kids to go to summer camp. And yes, I was once a camp counsellor with a cabin of twelve 12-year-old girls, four of whom were off their meds for the summer, and one of whom was seeing a psychiatrist regularly but hadn’t indicated that on their medical form. That was a fun month.
No custodians named Joe were rendered armless in the making of this blog post.