Don’t believe the hype

Sports camp sounded fabulous. “Children will play soccer, baseball and basketball,” the flyer said. I couldn’t resist. I enrolled my daughter in two week-long sessions. What a great way for her to pick a sport, I thought.  Camp will expose her to different sports and she’ll see what she likes. Then we can sign her up for one in the fall.

Sports camp did have its down side. It was only three hours long and I was used to having my daughter in all-day camp. I’d have to quit work early to pick her up every day. But I thought learning sports was worth the sacrifice. She’d boost her self-esteem, exercise and learn social skills all at once.

We got to camp the first day and my daughter clung to my leg. I couldn’t get her to participate. I grabbed one of the coaches who deftly got her involved and I tiptoed back to the car. When I picked her up, I asked about camp and my daughter enthusiastically said “It was great!”  Later that day, she told me she was the only kid who didn’t have a lunch. Camp went from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. – three hours — and it ended at lunchtime. I never thought they’d break for lunch.

The next day, I dutifully packed a lunch and we were off. Again my daughter clung to my leg, but the coach pried her off fairly easily. She was happy when I picked her up, but then she told me that a little girl ran off with her lunch and that ruined the entire day. Changing the subject, I asked “What did you play?” She told me they played a game called “Fire in the forest,” where they run from one end of the field to the other. “Did you play with any balls?” I asked. She said no. Okay, I thought. It’s just the second day. They’ll start with the sports tomorrow.

The third day, my husband dropped her off, and she jumped right into the game. Hallelujah. I picked her up and she said camp was fun. They played a game where they acted like different types of furniture.

Maybe these games are drills, I thought. They’ll start sports tomorrow. Tomorrow came, she clung to my leg, and they didn’t play any sports. That day, I called and cancelled her second week of sports camp. It just wasn’t worth the expense and besides, my mother-in-law was coming to visit. This way, my daughter would be able to see her grandma all day, and I could get some work done while Grandma kept her and her brother busy.

On Friday, the coaches told me they’d end early and give out certificates. Really? Three hours and they end early? They had a cute little ceremony and my daughter proudly waved her certificate at me. “Can I go back next week?” she asked.

“No,” I said guiltily. Now she likes sports camp? How was I to know that? “Grandma’s coming and you’ll get to see her.”

“Is she coming tomorrow?” she asked.

“No, Sweetie,” I counted on my fingers, “Five sleeps,” I said.

“I wish she would come tomorrow.” Thank God I cancelled.

When I signed her up for camp, I really had good intentions. There was no way to know what camp would be like, unless I’d known someone who’d already done it, and I didn’t. It was a waste of time and money and it won’t be our last waste of time and money. I have to accept that disappointment, even with something like camp, is part of parenting. And I have to say I’m not gun-shy. I’m signing her up for dance class in the fall.