Yana Blog > #camp

Stressful Camp Sign-up

It's been a busy week at our school. 

First, the best family dance ever! Our school's parent group organized a fantastic family dance event attended by 200+ kids, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors. So many people showed up, many I haven't seen in a long while.  The kids all knew how to dance, and needed very little prodding.  The parents were a bit shy at first, but the young DJ soon got many of us up and dancing too, to songs like Cotton Eye Joe that the kids all seem to know by heart, and a few brave parents too, but I've never even heard of.  No worries, we can still keep up with the beat. :)

I don't know about you, but I haven't danced in ages!  (Maybe last time at a family wedding?  O there was that disastrous salsa class I dragged my husband to, but I digress. :) And talking to other parents, seems like I wasn't the only one.  Everyone was smiling, talking, laughing, dancing, it was just a great time for all.  There were a few parents dancing with their kids, and even cuter, a few couples dancing, whether Gangnam Style or ballroom-style. :)  And outside the gym where the dance was held, I found a whole other party on the playground, with kids playing together and parents talking in a few groups. I felt a strong sense of community.

A couple of parents eagerly asked me, "This is gonna be an annual thing, right?"

I sure hope so! Maybe we should export the family dance to other schools too. ;-)

And then, it was the very stressful camp sign-up for our school's summer camp.  Ours is probably the only one in Cambridge that is regularly way over-subscribed. Why? Because we only have 3 classrooms, allowing for less than 60 kids. And the classes are divided into rising K (meaning JK now), rising 1st and 2nd graders, and then 3rd-5th, regardless of demand.  I've had my kids at Peabody that can just open up another class if there's demand.  Not so for our school, the summer camp run by community school isn't allowed to use our school's classrooms.  Why? "You gotta talk to the principal", I was told.

The night before, I learned camp sign-up was the next day and my husband was out for the night.  So I had my kids help me fill out forms.  I'd fill out what's common for both kids, ask my 7 year-old daughter, the younger but more reliable and helpful one, to make a photocopy, then get both kids to fill out their own name and birthday and gender.  Oh, about a gazillion times. :)  

My son's writing, I found out, I had to often re-do.  My daughter on the other hand, said "Give me a whole stack to make copies together."  Geez, she's more efficient than me! ;-)

The announcement said doors will open at 4:15, but some parents were there before 2pm.   So by the time I showed up at 4:15 exactly, I got #48.  Uh-oh I thought to myself.  Subtracting the low-income families that's on a different sign-up track, you have maybe 15 or fewer spots for each of the three classes.  Doing the math, my odds is not good.

Still, I ran into two Haitian moms with numbers around #70 and #90: uh, I didn't have the heart to tell them. :(

Finally at 5:30 they start to start registration, and I found out, actually, the odds is even worse than it first appears. Some families were submitting additional forms for other families!  So by early #20s, the rising 1st and 2nd grade class started to fill. 

Oh no! What would I tell my daughter. :(

I was there until almost 8pm, to finally get my older one signed up for camp.  It turned out there were plenty of spots for Grades 3-5; and a few spots left still for Kindergarten.  The camp director took the dozen or so forms for the rising 1st and 2nd graders and said there would be a lottery if any additional spots opens up.  Some disappointed parents just gave up and left.

Why make people wait for so long?  How about a lottery for all so it's truly fair, then 100 parents and kids didn't have to wait for several hours? Why make 3rd-5th grade parents wait so long if there's plenty of room?

How's it fair when the last people there were Chinese and Haitian immigrant parents that couldn't take time off from work or didn't know how to game the system? 

With questions swirling in my head, I dragged myself home to break the news to my very helpful and very disappointed daughter. :(

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