Here’s the scene..
The camp director marched out to the playground yelling my name. Huffing and mumbling under her breath, she grabbed me by the arm and dragged me inside the lunch room. Lunch had long been over and all of the tables were empty. Except, there was one person still there staring at the lunch tray in front of her.
Wearing the light blue, rainbow adorned camp shirt and a clenched jaw, I instantly recognized my sister as the single person in the entire room. She was the, “only camper in the 23 years of the camp,” that refused to eat the green beans. The soggy, canned green beans were the ticket to recess. And knowing this, most of us ate them first – before our taste buds knew what was going on. My sister was the exception- she was defiant.
“Tell her. Tell her to eat the green beans or I am calling your parents!” Seeing the determination in my sister’s eyes I knew no matter what I said she was never going to do it. Thirty minutes later my father showed up to find my brother and I sitting on either side of her with the plate of untouched green beans. We were asked not to return.
Unable to return to camp, it was arranged that we would spend the remainder of the summer alternating weeks between my grandparents’ homes. That is how I ended up spending every summer during my tween years building strong bonds with my grandparents, learning important life lessons and immersed in my family’s cultural roots. My greatest memories come from this time.
As I was discussing my recollection with Cristy, she pointed out that she too spent summers with her grandparents and great-aunt in New Jersey and Miami. We both agreed that these experiences helped shape our outlook on life, culture and family.
As you start to make summer plans, consider los Abuelos or other family members, who have the time and ability, as possible caretakers. Here are a few reasons why Abuelos can run the best summer camps for tweens:
- Abuelos and older family members are our closest ties to our cultural roots. Often times grandparents are the ones that uphold the originating culture and family traditions. Tweens who spend time with their grandparents will learn more and have a greater understanding of these traditions.
- Children between the ages of 7 and 12 are the perfect age for spending summers with older caretakers. For starters, tweens can take care of themselves and are old enough to understand and absorb the wealth of information grandparents have to share. But, tweens aren’t yet old enough to consider their grandparents or older people not ‘cool” and shut them out.
- For many parents there is a strong trust in those people who helped raise them as well. Summer camp can be scary for both parents and kids considering you don’t know all of your child’s camp caretakers.
- Children who spend time with older family members learn empathy and compassion. I would help my grandparents with gardening, but would have to be dragged out of the house by my parents to help in the yard.
Talk to your parents or family members and see if they would like to host your children for the summer. It could be for a month, a week or even a few days but any time spent with family members can be beneficial for both the kids and the caretakers.
Remember to share your Summer Camp ideas with us on the Los Tweens Facebook page.