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Stress-Free Zone | Humorpathic Therapy

Sitting Around the TV at Camp Compromise

July 20, 1998|JIM SHEA

Summer camp then:

Parents sent their teenagers for one reason: To get rid of them.

Summer camp now:

Parents send their teenagers for one reason: To get rid of them.

Except nowadays, parents tend to feel guilty about wanting to jettison their offspring in exchange for two argument-free weeks. So to compensate, they remand their teens to the custody of a theme camp.

Essentially, the theme camp allows parents to tell themselves that a forced summer incarceration is really in the child's best interest.

The objects of this largess, of course, view theme camp as further proof that their parents' plan is to make them want to move out of the house on their 18th birthday.

As one might suspect, parents and teens often don't agree on the theme of the camp to be experienced.

Generally, parents want to send their teens to camps with themes like:

Picking-up-after-yourself camp.

Taking-no-for-an-answer camp.

Don't-talk-to-me-in-that-tone-of-voice camp.

If-your-friends-jumped-off-the-bridge-would-you camp.

Health-code-violations-and-the-bedroom camp.

Meanwhile, teenagers are only interested in attending camps that will not interfere with their hectic lifestyle. So they prefer:

Get-up-when-you-wanna camp.

Loud-music camp.

Cruising-the-mall camp.

Pizza camp.

Three-way-calling camp.

Woe-is-me camp.

What's needed here is compromise. What's needed is an experience that will get the kids off into some remote wilderness while letting the parents believe they are making a personal sacrifice.

The solution?

Television camp.

Teenagers will love Camp Picture-in-Picture because it will not require they do anything that might tax them.

Parents will love Camp Picture-in-Picture because their teenagers won't hate it, and the reason their teenagers won't hate it is that once they hit the power button on their remotes, they will not even be aware they are away from home.

Another advantage of Camp Picture-in-Picture, is that while it will revolve around a big screen, it will not mean the elimination of such traditional summer-camp activities as swimming, campfires and waiting on tables in the mess hall.

It's just that campers will not have to actually participate in them.

When the whistle blows, campers will just be required to watch them on the appropriate camp channel.

*

Jim Shea is a columnist at the Hartford Courant. To reach him write to Jim Shea, Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115.

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