Summer Can Wait: Summer Scheduling is a Nightmare


Most everyone I know in my town is tired of winter’s ice, slush, and snow. On the few warm days we’ve had, my co-workers fling off their coats, saying they, “Can’t wait until summer!” Me? I’d keep the bitter cold for months longer if it meant I didn’t have to figure out my children’s blasted summer schedule. I’m so over summer already and we haven’t made it to spring yet. Do you disagree?

Allow me to rant about summer scheduling and see if I can’t convince you of the suckiness of summer to come.

Summer Scheduling is Expensive

Did you know that summer break does not exist for the benefit of farmers? For some reason, the myth of the “agrarian calendar” persists to this day. The truth is that kids don’t get off in the summer because back in the day they needed kids to work on the farm. (Side note: My mom and her siblings were pulled out of school for weeks in the frigid winter because that was oyster season when she was a kid and they had to cull oysters some January mornings with their dad. I tell this story to my kids when they complain about having to put on their snow pants in the morning. True story.) No, kids get off in the summer because rich folks wanted to take their kids out of the city when it got hot. I would argue that summers still largely benefit the privileged among us.

I won’t get into why educationally summers are bad for kids, but I will say that paying for summer camps or other childcare is truly tough for many families. On a typical week, we’ve had to pay a minimum of $600 for childcare for our two kids. If we calculate 10 weeks of summer, that’s $6,000. At our house, budgeting for summer camps starts in October. OCTOBER, people! We don’t travel as a family for winter or spring break because to do so would eat into our summer camp budget.

I’m lucky that my eldest, Nell, would really just like to spend the summer at the library. This means that I can sometimes cheat a week of camp by trading off with my husband who works from home with her while she reads. When she was younger, trying to afford two kids in two camps every week of the summer was enough to require us to pick up an extra job just so we could afford the childcare to allow us to work our first jobs. These days, it’s become a complex negotiation of how much structure the girls need and how much just hanging out around the house we can get away with. We also recruit family members from afar to help with the summer schedule. It’s complicated further by the fact that…

Summer Camps Are Already Full

Can I just repeat that? It’s MARCH and some summer camps are ALREADY FULL! Some of you out there, you know who you are, are true champs at summer scheduling. I mean, how early do you start planning for this? I bet you actually color code your bullet journals. I bow before you. I wish I were a big enough of a person that I could just congratulate you on your skills. Your “withitness” in having already signed your kids up for a special week at Camp Rideahorse or Camp Awesomesauce is something I should aspire to. But I’m so aggravated that we have to plan 3 months in advance for these things that I just can’t.

I. Just. Can’t.

Case in point, last Saturday I stayed home from skiing with my family so I could catch up on work and sign my kids up for Camp Sleepawayamazing. Earlier in the week, because I try ladies, I really try, I had ALREADY filled out the camp forms. All I had to do on Saturday was log on at the specified time with my credit card in hand. BUT I was working, which meant that at the specified time I did not log on. Instead, two hours after the specified time I took a break from the job that will pay for Camp Sleepawayamazing only to discover that every slot for the ENTIRE SUMMER was already full.

Look, I get it. I really do. Camp Sleepawayamazing is booked a solid 30 seconds after camp registration opens because it’s amazing and you don’t have to sell your second born child to finance your first born child’s slot. You snooze you lose; or, in my case, you work on a Saturday afternoon, you lose. But registrations that fill up in the first five minutes they’re online are pretty bonkers, right?

After FAILING AT SUMMER my first time out, I returned to the drawing board, budget in hand. My once general plans for the lazy days of summer were no more. I needed to get serious thinking about who would do what when. So I created a spreadsheet to help organize my summer scheduling.

Specifically, if I were to meet my eldest daughter’s dreams of a sleepaway camp, I was going to have to save money from somewhere else to finance a more expensive sleepaway camp than Camp Sleepawayamazing. With this in mind, I negotiated a cheaper, though less favored, day camp for my youngest. (I think I would be an excellent U.N negotiator).

summer scheduling snafu lake children swimming
Summer joys? Not for my kids

Victory in hand, I returned to the Internet only to find that the REASONABLY PRICED BUT FUN DAY CAMP was also already FULL. In March. Frantically, I began searching for another camp. This one looks great, but it’s for 17-year-olds (“Why do they need a camp?” Nell asked). This one is a good price, but it takes place the one week we’re away for the summer. This one is cheap but that’s because it only runs 9 to 12. Wait, this one is perfect! Except it will require a 30-minute drive for a 9:30 drop off and a 3:00 pick up!

I’m going to be honest, ladies, this is the point when I started to drink.

Where were my children supposed to go now? How was I going to afford anything? Why do so many summer camps run just from 9 to 3?!  How am I supposed to get the two girls to different camps and myself to work every morning, all at 9am? I mean, is any of it worth it? What about ticks? I’m surely a terrible mother for exposing my children to ticks anyway, right?! I spent a good two nights in high anxiety bouncing back and forth between camp websites and calendars and our budget before I decided to give up.

Summer scheduling has already defeated me. It’s March.

Of course, I know there are plenty of great summer camp options still out there. And I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve for making summer entertaining. I just wish the joys of summer were easier to plan for my kiddos. For now, I’m going skiing and summer will just have to wait.



  1. The first summer is the worst, Erin! I try to tell myself it’s better than paying for childcare, but it’s not easy to budget for. Thanks for reading!

  2. I am right there with you, its beyond stressful and frustrating! This is my first year with a school aged kiddo and the cost nearly gave me a heart attack. Then came the stress with finding one that fit our schedule. Yikes!

  3. Poor you, Beth! I can empathize with your frustration! I wish there were some way I could wave a magic want and PRESTO all scheduling problems would be solved and affordable 😀


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