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Summer schedule wipes parents out

June 16, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
Who coined the phrase, "lazy, hazy days of summer" anyway? Must have been a teenager. They are the only ones I know for whom the phrase holds true.

During the school year, parents send their children to school for about seven hours a day. For those seven hours, the parents know where their children are, that they are safe and supervised and that they are learning something.

When school is out, the same cannot be said unless the child attends a local day camp every weekday throughout the entire summer. Whether both parents work full time or not, day camps provide a great way to give children structure, a social outlet, an opportunity to exercise and a chance to learn much more than if they were sitting at home getting face time with the computer or TV.

There are many local day camps (for listings see the Summer Survival Guide on, and if you can take advantage of the many short-term camps at the zoo or those offered by the SMART Center or Wheeling Jesuit, they can keep your kids busy and learning all summer long.

It actually can get quite exhausting, not to mention expensive, keeping track of what camp is doing what when, whether you need to pack a lunch or swimsuit, and did I sign that permission slip? Activities are plentiful during the school year, but during the summer, there is literally so much to choose from -- if you wish -- that it can wipe parents out.

Even with a child who isn't in school, there is so much to do, if you choose. The park, the pool, picnics, the zoo, movies, day trips to Pittsburgh, The Wilds, Vacation Bible School, free concerts, museums, car shows, boat rides, festival after festival after festival ...

Then there are the times parents want to get a babysitter and take advantage of the outdoor concerts or other summer events. During the school year, you might go out once in a blue moon, but you figure, hey! It's summer! Let's take advantage of it!

This past weekend, I worked/attended the Ohio Valley Faith and Family Festival in Moundsville and went to The Clarks concert at Generations on Friday. I attended the same festival all day Saturday, then on Sunday went to church and spent the afternoon at Oglebay Park with out-of-town guests, followed by a cookout at our house with friends and neighbors Sunday night. Last night and tonight, Emma is going to the free C3 soccer camp, where I am volunteering. Tomorrow, Musikgarten starts the summer session at St. Matthew's Church in Wheeling. We have a play date Saturday at my house, and Sunday is Father's Day, on which I expect we'll go canoeing/picnicking/swimming.

I don't want to miss out on the free movies for preschoolers at Marquee Cinemas at the Highlands, so I need to schedule that in. Then, there are the various Highland games and parades I'll be attending with the pipe band, of course. FYI: We'll be at the Canonsburgh Fourth of July parade and the Follansbee Community Days parade on July 11!

I love it! Emma gets tons of fresh air and exercise, I get to hear lots of live music, get out in the community and socialize.

But I tell you, summer doesn't officially start until Sunday and I'm exhausted!

And meanwhile, my teenage stepson's Facebook status today reads: "sleeping all day."

Thank goodness for him, I just read a new study from Children's Hospital Boston that says teenager's brains really do need more sleep. (See article on Thursday's Arts & Living page.)


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