Notes from Camp Grandparents this summer

July 31, 2012

“Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at Camp Granada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining…”

Who can forget Allan Sherman’s "Camp Granada" lyrics? OK, all those who have heard from their children away at summer camp, raise their hands. I thought so. There is probably one mother in Iowa who got a letter this summer, and that was more than likely two years getting there. The note always reads: Send food.

Today that is the whole inspiration for children to go to summer camp. The idea of not communicating with their parents is so appealing, many kids feel it is the sole reason for getting on the bus, period.

Children know their parents will spend sleepless nights pacing the floor, envisioning their little ones being eaten by wild animals or wandering around lost in the woods. They also know parents will be so desperate and guilty at sending then away, they can ask for a car and their parents will purchase it as soon as they arrive home, even if the kids are only 6 years old.

As the song continues to explain further:

“Now I don’t want this should it scare ya
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffrey Hardy
They’re about to organize a searching party.”

So forget about making potholders, macramé key rings and plastic bobble heads; the real joy for a kid is enjoying the guilt the parents feel for trying to expand a kid's experience away from all technology for more than five minutes.

Now, guys do better at camp than most girls. This is not a judgment or a criticism; it’s just an observation of knowing how much boys love tents and camping out. It’s such a welcome relief from the everyday routine of rolling boulders over the side of a hill or pushing stuff like refrigerators down small mountains.

For one thing, it’s the opportunity to sit around and tell jokes involving flatulence that your mother would never allow to be heard in the house.

So hysterical are these jokes that guys will remember them years later, especially if they are at a funeral, wedding or in a place of quiet reflection, like a church.

Seriously though, you can practice a lot of outdoor skills at these camps too.

I can remember my brother and cousin came home from summer camp with all kinds of abilities to do new stuff like tie knots, wear the same underwear for a week and it goes without saying, hold their own in any burping contests.

We cannot leave out girls from this experience, but the accommodations are a little bit nicer, with cabins and real bathrooms, something guys are happy to go without. Girls write their parents lovely scripts about birds and plants. If a relative sends candy or magazines, a girl wil write a thank you note with her personal initials and a drawing of a horse on it.

Of course this is great preparation for planning her future, which is most likely her wedding, where she will rely on this experience to make up lists for a gift registry and floral arrangements for the tables.

Still, summer camp is a positive experience for most kids. And their parents have found a new way to get rid of the guilt; it’s called spending your time at Camp Grandparents.

Just when you thought you had the furniture in your living room just right, the carpet crisp and the guest soaps with the little butterflies indented in them wrapped in little see-through bowls, think again.

Backpacks will now be the dominant decor. Wet socks and towels on the floor will enhance the fruit-stained window treatments, and the cable man will visit your house at least once a day to restore some semblance of television service.

But it is not all bad. Underneath you know these kids are great, and together you get to not call their parents. Yes, it’s all in fun, but payback sure is sweet.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.