What to do with your kids this summer

Marketplace Contributor May 23, 2012

What to do with your kids this summer

Marketplace Contributor May 23, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: So I know summer doesn’t officially start for another month, but with Memorial Day coming up on Monday,
we’ve reached the unofficial start of summer. Which means a lot of kids are going to have a lot of free time on their hands. So what’s the best use of that time?

L.A. Times consumer columnist David Lazarus joins us now with some answers.

David Lazarus: Good morning.

Hobson: Well what should the goal be, David, when parents are trying to figure out what to do with their kids for the summer?

Lazarus: Good honest factory work, I think, is the answer here. But baring that, I think some kind of summer camp is usually a good idea. And preferably one that will play to those interests; that will promote those interests; give them something over the summer that is going to go beyond sitting in front of the Xbox playing “Modern Warfare 3” until their eyes bleed.

Hobson: But those camps can get pretty expensive, right?

Lazarus: They can indeed. In fact, overnight camps can cost as much as $780 on average per week. Day camps can cost as much as $275 on average, again, per week. But a lot of the costs can go much higher. For instance, in Southern California, on the East Coast — those average costs can go way higher.

Hobson: Well, so, if you are looking around for a camp, any ideas of where one might turn at this point?

Lazarus: Often times, word of mouth is going to be your best bet. You want to find out what your neighbors are doing; what your friends’ parents are thinking. Otherwise, I suggest that people go to the website of the American Camp Association, which is kind of the industry overseer — they set the standards for this. Also, it’s not a bad idea to have any camp your kid goes to to be accredited by these guys, because they are the standard bearer.

Hobson: What if you want to have your kid work for some money — maybe not at a factory, but perhaps at an ice cream store or something like that?

Lazarus: And it’s a great idea. When I was younger, I had summer jobs. Summer jobs are great: they teach values, they bring you a little bit of coin. Unfortunately with the unemployment rate with the way it is right now, teens are being affected disproportionately more than other segments of the population, and there’s not a lot of summer jobs to go around.

Hobson: David, you’ve got a 10-year-old son yourself. What are you doing to do with him?

Lazarus: Aside from the factory work? OK. We like to vary it a little bit. So, he might go to sports camp for a week or two; he might go to computer camp for a week or two. And I’m a big believer, as well, in keeping the learning going, because our schools, they just keep cutting back and cutting back. So we’ll do reading lists and things over the summer. And even though my son might whine and mope about it, it’s a good thing.

Hobson: L.A. Times consumer columnist David Lazarus, thanks a lot.

Lazarus: Thank you.

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