By Dom Cioffi
My wife and I took our son to summer camp this past weekend for a four-week program meant to build character and enrich young lives. Our son, however, would have preferred to stay home to play video games for the month of July, which is part of the reason why we sent him.
We didn’t arrive at the decision to send him easily. First of all, it’s an expensive undertaking. Thirty days of room and board and constant entertainment doesn’t run cheap. Secondly, the program is conducted with a slight military-style, which means the “cadets” are expected to behave in a highly respectful fashion while adhering to a bevy of social rules.
The problem is, our son is a bit on the unmotivated side. While he is a bright and energetic young man, he hasn’t quite developed an appreciation for the rewards of hard work. He also doesn’t seem to understand why his mother and I expect him to behave in a particular manner. We’re hoping this program helps turn that around.
Initially, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea. Maybe it was overkill? Maybe he would quickly grow out of this unruly phase and turn back into a normal kid again. Sure, we were having the typical father-son confrontations at home, but it didn’t seem any different than what the other fathers were telling me they were experiencing.
But then his final grades came out for the last semester of school and they were not anywhere near where they should have been. We consulted with his teachers and they all said the same thing: Smart kid. Great to have around. He just doesn’t seem motivated.
So, the decision was made to send him somewhere over the summer that would help inject some work ethic into his psyche. Luckily, one of our nephews had attended this same camp a few years prior. His parents both acknowledged that it was a pivotal moment in his life.
Part of this camp focuses on successfully navigating school, with courses on how to take tests, how to take notes, how to be organized, etc. These are all things my son doesn’t put effort into, which is why his studies have faltered.
The second part of the camp focuses on character-building and team-building exercises with activities like whitewater rafting, scuba diving, robes courses and wall climbing. While athletic, my son is rarely game for any activities outside of his comfort zone so this will be a challenging adventure for him.
However, up until this Sunday when we dropped him off, I still had reservations. But after we went through the matriculation process and met with several of the staff, I felt confident that the program that he was entering into was the perfect spot for him to be at this moment in his life.
My son hadn’t said much about the camp in the weeks leading up to his leaving. He didn’t want to talk about it. He wasn’t angry, he just seemed resolved to the idea that he got himself into this mess. In some ways, I think he wanted this to happen because he was embarrassed about how things ended up in school.
On Sunday, when it came time for the parents to say goodbye, I pulled him in close and whispered in his ear, “Dad has taught you everything you need to know in order to get through this.” He smile and replied, “I know.” We then walked away, leaving him with the other cadets in a large conference room.
Just before I walked out the door, I turned around to look back. He was standing against the wall looking in my direction, I smiled and waved; he smiled and waved back. That moment choked me up a bit, but I gathered myself and walked to the car.
In two weeks, we will return for a mid-program update with his teachers. That will be the first time we see and talk to him. We’ll be allowed to take him to lunch before saying goodbye once again. Two weeks after that we’ll show up again for the closing ceremony. And then hopefully we’ll say goodbye to the alien life form that took over our child’s body.
This week’s film, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” doesn’t involve alien life forms, but the dinosaurs in this movie might as well be since humanity doesn’t know how to handle their presence.
Nothing says summer blockbuster like angry dinosaurs. And while this installment of the popular “Jurassic Park” series does a wonderful job delivering intoxicating special effects, it unfortunately drops the ball when it comes to a palpable story.
Check this one out if you’re looking for some exciting thrills. Just don’t be surprised when you realize there’s very little story to keep you emotionally invested.
A “C+” for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at email@example.com.