the travel geek

"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

Waldon West Summer Camp

One of the more difficult things about constant travel is child care. Simply pinning down which city I’ll be in (or not be in)… at the same time as school holidays… months in advance… with great cancelation policies… that has realistic single parent hours… when life is constantly in flux… is one of the most stressful things we have to deal with.

The other challenge is different countries have different spring/summer/school break timings so we have to be creative in finding camps when none are available.

The one thing I am extremely grateful for is a daughter who is not shy, makes friends easily, and who is very specific (and direct) in what she likes and doesn’t like. This year she put together a list of activities she wanted to do for the summer. I just needed to make it happen… in whatever city we’d be in.

The first camp of the summer was a nature/archery camp at Walden West in Saratoga, CA. It’s difficult to get into Walden West. You have to book months in advance and in our case we lucked out because for the one week I couldn’t find anything they seemed to have one space available. And for La Niña, this camp was highly anticipated because of focus on nature.

We arrived early on the first day because we weren’t sure of where to go (being new to the area) or how long it would take to get there in California traffic. First impressions were very disturbing. The staff were cold and unfriendly, check-in was extremely disorganized, the other parents and kids seemed really snotty, and when it came time for me to leave, La Niña had already determined that she hated the camp and me for putting her in it.

This was one of those parenting moments where I had to trust my choice and say, You have all the tools/skills you need to make a strange and uncomfortable situation work… now I challenge you to make it work. It was hard to walk away and then drive off the mountain.

By the time I drove back at the end of the day… after a long day at work… with a sore throat… in my stupid rental car that sounds like it’s dragging tin cans… that could barely make it up the mountain… in 109F temperature… after driving for almost an hour in traffic… while hoping that the camp was good enough to change La Niña’s opinion and mine… I found a girl who had a fun day playing in the pool, who’s camp name was Venus, who had made tons of friends, who had stories to tell about snakes-turtles-snails-banana slugs-hummingbirds-deer-salamanders, and who couldn’t wait for the second day.

The rest of the week = best summer camp ever, which makes me a happy parent.

Day 1: not so sure of what to think of this place.


Day 3: Venus (a.k.a. the Queen of the ping pong table) trying to convince Night Hawk to play after she bested all the other camp councilors.


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