Thursday, September 8, 2016

Summer: Week 5

Helen attended a horse camp with one of her favorite people in the world. Helen got to attend this camp because her friend's mom is very organized. I think it might have been January when I got the first email with instructions on how to sign up - and I received a text the morning of sign-up, just to make sure Helen got into the camp. I pride myself on being on top of most organization things, but this woman just crushes me. Which is actually nice and I hope Helen and her daughter remain friends for a long time!

Much of our summer ended up being planned around this camp because canceling would've caused heartbreak in both girls. Unfortunately, it was among the hotter weeks we were in town. It was so hot, that the girls didn't get to ride horses on the first day of camp because it was "too hot" for them and another day, they rode bareback. I know less than nothing about horses, but this seems like a not great idea to me. But, Laura Ingalls Wilder did it with her cousin so Helen figured it was a great idea. And I guess it was fun.

The camp was run by the local YMCA. Children were dropped off there each morning and a bus took them to the stables. Campers spent the morning with horses and then in the afternoon they went to museums and waterparks. I'm not sure if the museums were planned or not - I certainly thought the girls would spend the whole day at the stables. In any case, it was sort of thumbs down on the afternoon activities (except the day they spent at the waterpark) and thumbs up on the horse part. In the end, I think Helen would like to do a horse camp again, but we might look around for another one.

Connor, on the other hand, was sent to math nerd camp. The curriculum in our public school is atrocious for highly advanced kids. Even challenging material isn't all that challenging. I really feel like I'm losing Connor on the math front, and I don't want that to happen. He's quite gifted at thinking through complex math concepts, and I'd like him to not give up on math as being boring until he gets through high school. In fact, I'd like him to stick with math through college, given that my office has had such great success hiring math majors. They tend to be able to think logically, solve problems, and work efficiently. These are great skills, regardless of what he ends up doing in graduate school.

A mom in a similar situation suggested this camp - and it is exactly what Connor and I both needed. Daily (for nearly two weeks), I reverse commuted, dropped him off, and then worked in a Starbucks until he was finished. It was a half day camp. The first week, it was supplemented with a baseball camp and I can't even believe he enjoyed it, given the heat. But alas, he had fun. The second week, he hung out around the house while I crammed work in - though we did make it to one IMAX downtown.

The camp instructor restored my faith in education. He told me he loved working with Connor. He told me Connor was "old school gifted", which meant he's a kid with a super high IQ but hasn't necessarily been exposed to anything challenging. The two of them sorted through negative base 10 numbers one day, chatted about things I have long since forgotten, and in the end - the instructor told me he'd be happy to tutor Connor free, given that Connor had to miss a session of camp. His eyes lit up when he talked about Connor and as much as our home school district has suggested I should slow my role, he was suggesting just the opposite. Keep that kid engaged! Make sure he has a peer to challenge him! Look for these signs to know he's being engaged properly (some interest in the subject, happy to chat about it at least a few days a week). And mostly, don't put artificial boundaries on him. He deserves to be educated. I almost cried talking to him because I have spent so much time explaining to people in our home school district that if they do not challenge Connor soon, we are all going to be losers.

Ed and I learned we had forgotten a lot of geometry, but could still hang in stats and algebra / trig type homework. I was impressed with Connor's willingness to work pretty hard. It was definitely good for him to see that this thing he loves does have people doing interesting things with it. Hopefully, that lesson sticks long enough to inspire him to keep going.

In the end, I think Connor would do the camp again, if only to see the instructor again.


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