Summer is here and so are summer camps. Parents have a myriad of options to keep their children occupied. And yes, most of the workshops offered are very useful and educational. However, it has also left me wondering about some curious and ethical questions.
Our children have a hectic academic year. Though I have no statistic to quote, I have a feeling, they have much more to deal with compared to what we did in school. The social pressures, both real and virtual is at the peak for a school going child. Then comes the holidays: a time to relax, climb trees, daydream or simply wile away time. But no, we parents do not have the time to let the children indulge in these little pleasures of life. And rightly so, we have jobs and responsibilities. This cannot be taken lightly. So summer camps are a welcome option. But how can we go about picking the right one? A safe environment?
A good place to start would be to ask ourselves and discuss with our children about some of the issues listed below:
1. What to do?
The first one, of course, is to find out what our children are interested to do or learn. We may have a difference of opinion here with them. Then we use our opinion to decide what course we can enroll ourselves in. It's summer, it's the holidays: let them decide.
2. To do or not to do?
Then to ask them and ourselves, does it really have to always be about learning? Can it also sometimes be a 10-day daily library visit where they can sit, read, dream, and possibly make new friends? Do we always need someone else to entertain or engage us? Can we experiment to see if our children can entertain themselves?
3. To be or not to be creative?
Now assuming that we do zero in on opting for a summer camp, does it always have to be academic? Do they necessarily have to do something with numbers, words or formulas? Can we allow ourselves to think beyond making them supercomputers? Because by the time they grow up, Supercomputers, Artificial intelligence, and Robots will be doing what we are training them for today. So what are the skills we can provide them with that will empower them for tomorrow? Anything that sparks their creativity and imagination, or offers them opportunity to explore being kind and compassionate will open many doors for them in the future.
4. Safe or not?
Then comes the environment, methodology, and safety. While leaving our children in the care of someone we barely know, it will be good to ask a few questions:
a) what are the values based on which the course is designed
b) are these value systems useful for your child's growth
c) how safe is the environment
d) meet the instructor and get a feel for their methodology
5. To click or to be clicked?
The last and the most important thought that I want to leave with you is the question of respect and privacy. When I conduct workshops, for adults or children, I ask the participant's permission before I take their picture. I also ask permission before I use any of the pictures on my website or any other social media platform. When we enroll our children in various programs, we can ask ourselves: are we willing and OK with our children's pictures being taken and used in their commercial and social platforms? This can be a useful opportunity for a dialogue with your children to discuss how they can protect their privacy by saying 'no' to a picture that is being taken for social media use. It is a good time to help them understand how to respect their and others privacy. Having a smartphone alone is not enough for someone to take our picture. It could also be useful for you to have a word with the organizers to find out more, so you can decide what is safe and what isn't. After all, we are just sending our children to a summer camp and not a modeling assignment.
Summer is fun and summer camps are too. Let's make good choices with awareness.