Planning For The Summer
January 2023… summer camp sign-ups begin every year! How in the world are parents supposed to know what their June, July, and August will bring when we hardly know what our children will like next week? And yet, the competitive, variable, confusing summer camp schedules are released – and thus begins the challenge of creating a summer that will keep your little ones occupied, stimulated, and happy. Of course, all of this occurs while the rest of your work and family life carries on.
The considerations we make regarding summer plans as parents of gifted children are similar to those of many other parents. Here are some of them: What is the furthest I can drive on a daily basis to get my children to and from their summer camps? What is the most I am willing to pay for a week of fun (now multiply that by your number of children and number of activities…)? What other friends might be going to these camps, and would their parents be willing to carpool with us? How will this camp schedule work with your child’s already busy annual commitments? Should we continue private music lessons during the summer? Are we going on a vacation as a family? With friends? Can I piece together a week of activities with short, 1-2 hour long commitments all day long or will I be stuck chauffeuring my kids from one place to the next during the only decent weather in Wisconsin all year? It’s enough to make your head spin…and remember, summer camp season is months away!
As parents of gifted kiddos, we have a myriad of other “problems” that come to mind when planning our summer schedules. We may have kids that want to keep advancing in academic areas and are searching for appropriately leveled summer classes that will allow our 8 year old to participate in 7th grade pre-algebra. We aren’t sure if the latest chess craze will continue beyond March, but we have to commit to a camp now, lest we lose out on one of the coveted spots to another (more consistently) obsessed chess addict. Will their recent love of ceramics, spawned during one 1st grade art class last week, carry on through the spring and still be top of mind when the art camp in July rolls around? Might our 5th grader’s newfound love of sports statistics wane prior to the College For Kids session in mid-August?
Keeping up with the (often obscure and short-lived) interests of our gifted kids can feel like a full time job. Forecasting six months in advance, with any accuracy, is a challenge. We may find ourselves signing our kids up for a summer filled with tennis lessons because our child became enamored with Wimbledon after reading about it in the latest What Is It? book. We could send our children to a month-long, outdoorsy camp up north and hope for the best, knowing our children will likely have very few peers to connect with as they wind down each night in a cabin filled with strangers. Perhaps a plan in which each week features a different activity might keep their interests piqued throughout the summer.
One thing that has worked for us is to return to the activities and places that have worked in the past. Sure, our daughter might not like synchronized swimming as much at 7 as she did at 5, but the teachers are great, the schedule works, and we even have some carpooling friends on the team. Maybe the dates of our favorite camp up north (for gifted children!!!) conflicts with a loosely scheduled family vacation (which can easily be pushed back by a day or two), but we prioritize that week of pure camp bliss because a week with true peers is worth its weight in gold! And, you know what, even if your winter chess “master“ becomes more of a chess “monster“, one week of chess camp never killed a kid, right? Who knows… maybe your kiddo will meet someone else who loves to categorize their Pokemon cards as much as they do during their chess lunch break!
We’ve discovered over the years that summer schedules which allow for some flexibility while also containing enough structure and stimulation are desired. Summer away from a traditional school setting can be very exciting for our gifted learners, but the need for new information and exploration still remains. How will you meet your gifted learner’s needs this summer? Good luck on your quest!
Mary Pape, WATG Board Member
Student and Parent Voices
Hear from and about gifted and talented students and parents across the state Wisconsin.