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Carry on camping

Claudia packs the darlings off for “improving” summer activities

Hot House

This article is taken from the July 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issue for just £10.

Cometh the summer, cometh the camps. Yes, people, the annual scrabble for wildly over-priced and insanely competitive North London summer camps is back on. And this year, what with actual holidays hanging in the balance, the whole thing is even more intense.

Essentially, the aim is to spend as little time as physically possible with your children over the holidays

Essentially, the aim is to spend as little time as physically possible with your children over the holidays, preferably only in the car to or from an extra-curricular activity. But with six weeks to fill (assuming our week in Cornwall doesn’t fall through), and three kids who range from “gifted-and-talented” to “such hard work we’ve started tactically deploying the neurodiverse card” I’m rapidly approaching burnout.

Not helped by the fact that said camps need to be listed on future school applications, and must therefore denote well rounded yet quirky characters — and parents who are intent on encouraging their child’s passions. i.e. a couple of weeks of football camp emphatically won’t cut it.

Made this point to Will, with my passive aggressive Camp Spreadsheet 2021 very obviously open on my laptop, who started spouting his usual shit about “letting kids be kids”. What part of “imminent eleven plus” application does he not understand?

Plus the fact that it would be me fielding the “kids being kids” (AKA absolute dicks) for the best part of two months, Will having jumped at the chance to stop WFH. Funny that.

Made these points, and Will came back with some guff about the “importance” of childhood boredom in fostering creativity — according to some parenting podcast that there is no way he genuinely listened to.

He then started on a ramble down memory lane about how he and his siblings had been treated with “benign neglect” and were all the better for it. Pointed out that “bored” has a different meaning when you grow up in Hampshire with a pool, tennis court and forest literally in your back garden, and that “better for it” is debatable. His oldest brother is, after all, in prison for tax evasion.

And another thing! His parents shipped all their kids off to boarding school at seven, so frankly the least they could do was host them for the holidays. Couldn’t make this point to Will, as we’d end up in a Freudian deep dive that I had no time for. Because, spreadsheet.

Have had to hire an extra nanny just to get everyone to their various sodding places on time

Anyway, so far the itinerary goes like this …. Hector (he of the alleged neurodiversity) will be doing kung fu, Tennis Academy, ceramics (he doesn’t want to do this but it implies soul and is local), Perform musical theatre camp (ditto, local), “Let’s Get Spelling!” and Forest School. Lyra: film-making, tennis (she hates it but we get a sibling discount so it’s a no brainer), Kumon, street dance, football (fine for girls as implies feminism) and Mad Scientist.

Minnie, in Year 8, is kind of too old to be corralled into these things, but also not old enough to do anything other than mope around looking in the mirror and at her phone. So, following a vicious row about screen time, she’s been booked into Cypher Coders, vegan cookery, environmental activism, archery, riding and Survival Academy. Her only comment was that if there are no hot boys on the first day of any camp she won’t return.

Have had to hire an extra nanny just to get everyone to their various sodding places on time, and may need to re-mortgage the house to cover the fees. Seriously, one of the FAQs on the film-making camp’s website was “Why are you so expensive?” Desperate times my friends. Desperate times.

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