June Men's Room column
Just as you were suddenly forced to play teacher this spring, you may soon find the role of camp counselor thrust upon you. To keep your kids engaged, entertained, and educated this summer, check out the following do-it-yourself stay-at-home camps:
Attic Clean Out Treasure Camp: To stoke maximum enthusiasm, first stress to your kids that ANYTHING could be up there: toys, treasure, a reclusive relative with a wad of two-dollar bills burning a hole in his pocket. Teen boys can be enticed with vague references to a (fictional) “box of old Playboys the former owners left behind.” Hones dexterity as campers balance on cross beams to avoid falling through the ceiling drywall below. Teaches computer skills as kids learn to post items for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
Or, if your house lacks an attic, try Crawlspace Clean Out Adventure Camp: Many small bodies make quick work of this normally dirty and backbreaking chore. Boys will love the high probability of encountering the desiccated skeleton of a small mammal. Note: Teen girls will “literally hate” this camp and instead spend the week in their rooms making TikTok videos.
Murder Mystery Camp: Solve the case of Who in the Family Finally Got Sick of Social Distancing and Completely Lost It? This camp’s a cross between Clue and The Shining … but for kids! “Mommy with the hedge clippers in Daddy’s man cave!” Tip: If you “randomly” pick your most annoying child to play the victim, the little devil will have to lie still for hours as “the body.”
“Yes, Mom and Dad Used to Play Sports!” Camp: Mom plumbs the depths of memory for the gymnastics routine she learned in the ’90s so she can impart it to her daughter who, before attempting each maneuver, groans and says, “That’s not how Jackie does it in class.” Alternative: Dad relives his high school glory days and teaches the kids hoops skills for the week (or, more likely, for 45 minutes until he blows out his knee, grabs an ice pack and an IPA, and retreats to the A/C and recliner).
“Is That Even Music?” Camp: Dad dusts off his old guitar, Mom warms up those rusty pipes, and both take a walk down memory lane as they teach the kids to play the song that killed at open mic nights back in the day: “Fly” by Sugar Ray (“I just wanna fly, put your arms around me, baby…”) Warning for parents of teens: This camp could result in adolescent corneal strain from violent eye rolls.
Backyard Camping Camp: Day 1: Campers search for all that camping gear you got for your wedding, never used, then stashed in the attic, shed, and garage. Day 2: Campers patch the holes in said gear. Day 3: Spent at Medac after camper burns off eyebrows in a lighter fluid incident. Day 4: Taco in a Tent night. Day 5: Build a fort in the living room cause it’s “too hot outside.”
Feel free to experiment, folks. Get creative! Remember, anything that gets the kiddos out of your hair for an hour or two while you sneak off to the garage for a glass of wine or a hard cry is a win.
Dylan Patterson is a writer and filmmaker who teaches English at Cape Fear Community College.
To view more of illustrator Mark Weber’s work, go to markweberart.blogspot.com.
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