About Me

I am the mother to 6 children and former foster mother to 2. I am passionate about whatever it is I am passionate about, until I change my mind. I dream big, plan big, and once in a while I even make it big. We are planning to take our freak show on the road. Join us as we embark on a new adventure!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Summer Enrichment

Three of my kids have been attending the "summer enrichment program" which is a collaboration between the Parks and Rec Dept and the local Boy's and Girl's Club. Mostly they all love it. They can swim, play sports, all kinds of crazy summer camp type games, craft, and most importantly, socialize.

There have certainly been a few downs along with the mostly ups. It's been hard for my kids to adjust to group mentality. Running because it's time to run, sitting because it's time to sit, and not talking because it's quiet time. We have talked at length about how that is just the nature of the beast in getting large groups of children together.

There have been a lot of group punishments that my children have really objected to, and rightfully so. If they were not even present at the time the punishment was levied, it seems completely unfair that they are forced to participate. Even if they are present, it also seems unfair to punish an entire group due to a small percentage that refuses to comply.

Some of the counselors don't even seem to like children, and I have heard numerous complains from my children that this one in particular has been unfair with the group, and has on several occasion made extremely inappropriate remarks such as, "Ugh, I hate this group!" and "I can't stand you guys!" This has been addressed with the director both by me and by my children, and the response is just that this one counselor is a stickler for the rules and doesn't let any infraction slide. The director did admit that those remarks were not acceptable and agreed to speak with the offending adult, and offer her more breaks during the day. According to my kids, this stickler mentality/not letting any infraction slide doesn't seem to apply to the truly misbehaving children.

One of my kids decided today to stop attending as the negative is sucking all the positive. I feel horrible about that decision, but I totally understand. It's no fun to be punished when you are just trying to have a good time and are following all the rules set forth.

I was there this morning to drop off and observed another group without them knowing I was there. To be clear, I wasn't sneaking around, just doing a late drop and coming across the room from an angle that made me hard to see. This was a group of 5-7 years olds. They were standing at attention as a counselor lectured them. The little I heard included a threat of writing apology letters if she heard another word about misbehavior and "Child X, did you hear me!?!?"

I felt sick to my stomach. This isn't boot camp, it isn't even school. It's summer enrichment camp! And these are little kids! I thought this was supposed to be a fun experience. I honestly feel that if the adult involved were focused on having FUN with the kids, they would. However it seems that the people in charge don't seem to fond of children to begin with, and are more concerned with creating an environment of obedience, creating a negative experience for both adult and child.

My first reaction was to take my children and go home, but the two that are still there are there at their own choosing, I am not forcing anyone to stay. I did however have to speak to a counselor for one child who hasn't been feeling well and is afraid to spend the day because from past experience knows that sitting out when it's "time to run" is never allowed. Of course the adult assured me that would be fine.

Any idea how to handle this? I really want to make a stink and have some changes made, but I really believe this is just our American Culture: Children are bad, can't be trusted, and need to be reprimanded. I guess as long as they would rather go, I will send them, but I would love to hear some suggestions on how to make this better for everyone.


Stimey said...

Seriously, that's messed up. I wish I had advice. I'd complain. In a letter. To the management of the program.

r. said...

Summer enrichment camp might work differently, but my understanding is that Boys and Girls Clubs are technically not child care facilities (because kids can sign themselves in and out) and so they don't need to have the same adult/child ratio as other programs. Which can be good if it lets the place exist when it otherwise wouldn't be possible, but it could be bad if the few adults (or teenagers) there are totally outnumbered and overwhelmed.

I spent a summer or two lifeguarding in high school and I saw how a lot of other teenager camp counselors treated the kids. They were good sometimes, but sometimes they were just in over their heads and had no idea what to do. And some people dealt with feeling by disengaging (which meant the fat kid or the special needs kid got teased, because nobody was with it enough to stop it), some went all "boot camp", etc.