There is something magical, for all of us, but most especially for children, in having lots of unstructured time. And Summer is pretty much the perfect time of year to have lots of time–the weather is usually conducive to being outdoors and there aren’t the pressures of school (being somewhere on time, remembering all the things to bring each day, homework…). Where I live, a common trend is to sign kids up for lots of camps — a week at soccer camp, a week at zoo camp, two weeks of swim lessons and then a few weeks at “Harry Potter camp”. While at first this might sound like a really fun summer schedule, with deeper reflection, and putting ourselves in our child’s shoes, a schedule like this can be pretty taxing and exhausting.
Each camp will have it’s own rhythm, schedule, rules and general atmosphere, which our kids will have to learn, only to have it be completely different at the the next week’s camp. Each camp will have a new group of kids and they will have to deal with the stress and effort that goes with trying to figure out one’s place in a group. And, each camp has a new set of skills for our children to “master”, be it learning soccer passes, learning about reptiles, figuring out the backstroke or memorizing magic spells, with no real chance to “go deep” into any one thing, let alone the chance to discover where their imaginations call them to on that day.
So, if it’s not too late, I urge you (and remind myself!) to give your children the opportunity this summer to “do” a whole lot of nothing. Let them have the gift of boredom, the gift being what arises from that bored place; a self-generated idea that is uniquely their own. The joy, peace and learning that comes from lazy summer days will last a lot longer than any “skills” taught at a one-week camp.
I like this post about Summer.