During summer weeks when we are not traveling or otherwise having unstructured time at home, my daughter attends various week-long day camps. There is one in particular that she loves and that many of her school friends attend. In terms of schedule and expected degree of participation of parents, this camp is set up for stay-at-home parents. That’s fine for us for a week or two because we have a very flexible schedule in the summer (a benefit of being a professor), but it makes it very difficult for kids of working parents to attend.
The camp organizers wondered how they could increase enrollment and diversity, and I suggested that the camp could be made more accessible to working parents by offering extended hours (until after 5 pm), and not having 20% of the camp days involve parent attendance at events. You would have thought that I’d suggested that they perform Satanic rituals and/or feed the kids Twinkies for snack.
One of the organizers snarled at me “This is NOT day care”. What’s so bad about day care? I send my daughter to camps because they are fun, she loves being around other kids all day (she’s an only child), and my husband and I need to get some work done in the summer. I feel not the slightest need to be apologetic or defensive about needing/wanting summer day camps to be all-day activities.
The other day when I picked my daughter up from the camp in the afternoon, the woman who had made the this-is-not-day-care statement sighed and said to me “I’m exhausted. Doing this all day is hard work.” I felt like saying “This is NOT work!”. Instead I said “Yes, I know how you feel. I had a long day at work as well”, though I suspect the divide is too great for there to be any mutual empathetic feeling about our respective long days at work.