Monday, July 18, 2011

A new kind of camp

Back in February, I blithely registered William for a week of camp at Cheekwood, the local art museum and botanical garden. We go there frequently, and he adores it, so I thought it would be a good summer opportunity for him to go to day camp there. Plus, his friend Leland was attending, too, and they could go together.

A couple of weeks ago, I started having second thoughts. Much to my marker-and-crayon loving dismay, William's not much of an arts-and-crafts person. However, he is very good with his hands. In fact, he has excellent fine motor skills; he can correctly assemble a complicated toy that's designed for children several years older than he is without much trouble. And he's fast, too.

But hand him a paintbrush and watch the exasperation creep across his face. He's the kind of kid who, when asked to draw a picture, tends to scrawl a few lines on the paper and announce, "I'm done" twenty seconds later. If he can't successfully bargain his way out of doing an art project, he'll at least try to get it over with as quickly as possible. He's just not that into it.

So I started talking up all the good parts (read: the non-artsy, non-crafty parts) of the camp to prepare him for what could have been a big disappointment. "You'll get to hang out with Leland," I said. "You might meet some kids who'll be in your kindergarten class this fall. There might be some friends from Encore there, too. And you'll get to see the art museum and the train exhibit." He seemed to be pleased by those aspects.

We arrived for registration this morning and turned in the paperwork and picked up his t-shirt. Then I escorted him to the appropriate studio for his session. The studio was full of children sitting quietly at a large table, all carefully coloring and drawing. Quietly. Did I mention the quietly part? The teacher welcomed William and asked him to have a seat and start to draw. "We're having some time for free drawing, while we wait for everyone else to arrive!" she said enthusiastically.

William flashed me a look of concern. I could almost hear him thinking, "This? Sitting quietly at a table? Drawing? This is camp?" And the previous weeks of church day camp--with the hours of playground time--began to flash before my eyes.

But I guess my pep talks worked. Or else, I underestimated him. To his enormous credit, he nodded confidently, then walked back over to me and kissed me and Andrew goodbye. Then he took his seat at the table and resolutely picked up a marker.

When I picked him up a few hours later, he happily chattered on about making a sketchbook and drawing a picture of a building and a sundial and making something out of clay. And since it was William, he also talked about snack time and what the other kids brought to eat and could he have a fruit bar next time, along with his Goldfish crackers and raisins?

He's a good kid, my older son. You can throw him into almost any situation, and he does okay.

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