Summer Camp in 2024

Summer Camp in 2024

Every summer, our children are out of school. And yet, I am not out of work over the summer. You can see the problem this poses for getting work done.

So, every summer, our kids are involved in various “camps” and “activities” that will help me to get work done. This summer is a little different because our 15 and 17 year old boys are both fully engaged by work (Lifeguard and Art Camp counselor, respectively). So, the only activities we must organize ourselves are camps for our 10 year old.

And wouldn’t you know it, he had some ideas about the kinds of camps he wanted this year. While there are still plenty of soccer, swimming, nature, and other sports camps. One of the activities that he is most excited about is a camp that is dedicated to playing Super Smash Bros. with other excited tweens.

So, I wanted to spend a little time reflecting upon that choice.

Super Smash Bros. is a game full of animated fighting that is anything but violent. It is silly. It is strange. But, most of all, it is entertaining. It is something that you can play or watch and enjoy just as much. It is fun to root for (or against!) your friends and it is easy to get caught up in the lore of each of the characters (of which many come from other Nintendo properties with huge followings).

For each day of this 5-day long camp, our 10-year-old plays a video game for three hours. It is something we would typically not do at home. While we don’t have hard and fast rules about screen time, we don’t tend to let any of our kids play video games for multiple hours in a row. And yet, I don’t have any issues with our son doing just that within this setting.

I think that is because of just how collaborative he is within this environment. Much like he is when he is playing soccer or jumping on a trampoline, he is almost constantly talking while he is playing the game. In fact, I observed a significant amount of conversation before, during, and after each match. There was good-natured trash talk and genuine question asking. There was competitive conversation and team-building words of encouragement. I believe this is why it makes sense for the camp to exist.

My 10 year old needs more opportunities to be with people he doesn’t (previously) know, engaged in a collaborative effort. That is the core of what a summer activity is all about, and this one fits the bill perfectly. The “screen time” required for the activity is superfluous. It is about the community that he has built that will last beyond the week. We know each of the kids usernames to keep it going even after the summer is over, which is not something I can say for any sports camp he has enjoyed.

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