Choosing a (Mostly) Camp-Free Summer & A Change of Heart


“I don’t want to do any camps this summer.” Wait, what?? “Of course, you’re doing camps, silly girl. You can pick from sports, dance, Girl Scouts, chess….you loved chess camp last year!”

Camp Camp Camp. I love Camp.

“No. I’m absolutely not doing any camps this year. You can’t make me.”

That was in February. And for the next few months, I asked her…reminding her that her friends would be doing camps, that she might get bored, that camp was awesome, laying out all the glorious and fine points of going to camp.

But I knew what was really happening here. As a self-proclaimed social but introverted-Type B-WAHM, I knew that come two weeks into summer break I was going to want her out of the house. I’m all about protecting my space and my freedom, so the idea of “summer break” is the very antithesis of getting that break I so desperately crave as a mom. Don’t get me wrong…I ADORE MY CHILDREN and praise God for them every single day. But mama needs ma’space. And so come January/February I start researching all.the.camps and have in the past signed them up to participate in some sort of camp/VBS pretty much every week of summer break.

So when I continued to get pushback from my daughter, and then her brother, I raised my white flag. And I decided rather than push my kids to conform to my thoughts of summer, I would work on myself and try a change of heart.

Welp, it is now mid-July, we are about halfway through our summer, and how do I feel about a no-camp summer?? I. LOVE. IT!!! I’m finally getting why moms pop up all over my IG & FB feeds with their adoration of summer break and the extra time with their kids.

Here’s why:

  • Freedom:  For the first month, we had no routine. No chores, no expectations…we just kind of cuddled and ice-creamed and swam and vacationed and slept and video-gamed and iPadded our way through the month. Not only was it great for the kids, but it was great for this car-pooling, traveling-husband, work-from-home mom. A true bona-fide break from the routine. Permission to just let it be and “allow it”. For all of us.(Take comfort, Type As…We are now in month two and have a brand new chore/money-earning system back in place…look for that post soon!)
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis | Nashville Shores
  • Flexibility:  I usually have so much scheduled for the summer that the spontaneity I crave is squashed by the single fact that I have to have the kids somewhere at 9am. Every day. What kind of summer “break” is that?! I want a summer where I can take my morning smooth like my latte and ease into the day and let it unfold. We even planned a last-minute vacation with the kids and turned a non-scheduled basic week into a trip with family that included the kids’ first trip to a waterpark and a visit to the best Children’s Museum in the country. This only happened because we had NOTHING on the agenda.
  • Fun:  If you saw my last post you know that we adore our city. St. Louis offers so much for families, but over the last three years we’ve filled our lives and schedules with so many things, that by the time the weekend comes, we’re exhausted from keeping up with the sports/activities/birthday party schedules. So, this summer we created our very first ever Summer Bucket List and brainstormed everything we want to do, see, and experience this summer. Everything from our tried and true favorites (Ted Drewes, Cardinals game, Magic House, City Museum, Zoo) to adding new things we’ve never done (Fitz’s, Six Flags, The Arch, trying rolled ice cream in the Loop). And if we don’t do allthethings, we’re not going to sweat it. We’ll just have a jump on our 2019 list.
  • Family & Home:  18 Summers. This one’s been hitting me hard this summer with all the memes and quotes floating around social media – the fact that we only get this one season of life with our kids. Having two out of three kids in full-time school for the first time this last year has given me a new appreciation for the time I’m blessed to get with them. And I lucked out with three kids who are just super-duper fun. So this summer I opted to be fun mom with them.

And so, the other night as I was putting my youngest to bed, singing over her crib and rubbing her back, she lifted her head and said “I wanna go school”, and for the first time, instead of my typical “Oh girl, I’m ready for you to go to school, too!”, my heart jumped in my chest as I wiped a tear and thought, “no baby girl…please let me have more days with you…let’s not wish away this one summer.”

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Jessica lives in Glendale, Missouri, with her husband Josh, and three kids Stella (2010), Graham (2012), and Mia (2015). She currently works from home as the Business Director for City Mom Collective. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky but was raised mostly in Irmo, South Carolina. After earning a BS Degree in Sociology at The University of Kansas she moved to Phoenix, Arizona and during her 15 years there she met her husband and started their family. In 2014, they moved back to her husband’s hometown of St. Louis and have loved exploring all the city has to offer for families. A perfect Midwest day for Jessica is checking out the live music and Walk Away Waffles at the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market, heading to Forest Park to check out the St. Louis Zoo or Art Museum, grabbing dinner and ice cream in the Central West End, and heading back home to watch her kids play in the backyard and chase fireflies.