Mid-August in South Florida: the hot, rainy, muggy, weeklong cusp between the end of most kids’ summer camps and the start of the new school year.
How do families cope with this temporary netherworld between long periods of rigid scheduling?
Turns out it’s a natural seasonal transition for some, but a source of stress for others.
Florencia Barletta views these summer doldrums from both sides. The mother of two school-age kids ran the youth sailing and windsurfing camp for 60 youngsters age 7 and up at Miami Yacht Club, which ended Aug. 2. Speaking by phone from her poolside lounge chair on vacation in Sanibel Island Wednesday, Barletta welcomed the break between running the camp and preparing her kids for the first day of school.
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“The staff after eight weeks is tired and so is the director,” she said, chuckling. “Next week, I start getting programs ready for the fall. I go to the doctor and get the kids’ papers and let them lounge around for a week.”
Barletta said she could have extended the camp sessions for two more weeks and filled all available slots, but “people need also a break from camp. Summers are expensive if the parents have to put their kids in camp all summer long.”
Like Barletta, director Sarah Neham Salz could have added a session to the University of Miami Young Musicians Camp that concluded July 19 after hosting 375 kids ages 9-18 from South Florida and around the world.
“I get a number of requests from parents, ‘can we get a longer camp?’ ” Salz said. “Yeah, I’ve thought about it. Parents would prefer to have more than just a daycare situation if their kids have something they love to do. I definitely am thinking about it. I definitely think there’s a need.”
Several summer camps offer weeklong sessions just before the regular start of public school on Aug. 19. The Adventure Biscayne Camp held at the Miami Rowing Center on Virginia Key has open slots for its final week of beach volleyball, swimming, kayaking, sailing and fishing. Kids aged eight to 14 can still register as late as Monday for the final week of Fit2Play held through Aug. 16 at numerous Miami-Dade County parks. Fit2Play features a variety of activities, including indoor basketball, aquatics, bowling and sailing.
But families with no more money for summer camp or those who want to give the kids a breather before school opens have other strategies for coping with the cusp.
Nanet Comerio, a librarian at Miami Shores Library, asked for next week off from work way back in April to be home with her children ages 9 and 11 after their summer camps ended.
“I wanted to be with them,” Comerio said. “One is transitioning to middle school and I thought it was important. We might go to the beach, to the pool, do a little shopping for school.”
Steve Schraer of North Miami Beach, loan administrator and father of three — ages 5, 8 and 11 — enlisted his mother in Pembroke Pines to host “Camp Grandma” for part of the week. But he also plans to take off early from work some days.
“I do math and pool and get them away from video games,” Schraer said.
Unlike some parents, Amanda Mayan of North Miami is looking forward to the end of theater camp Friday for her 6-year-old daughter.
“I can’t wait for camp to be over so we can get back to our home school routine,” Mayan said.
Monica Alexander of Miami, mother of two — ages 8 and 12 — said the gap between the end of summer camp and the start of school used to be tough on the family because both she and her husband worked outside the home and had no relatives here to help them with child care.
“It was a nightmare,” Alexander said. “I used to pay a lot of money for after-care. I used to struggle, make an excuse to take a vacation so I could stay with them. I had to stop working for a while.”
But now she has a part-time sales job that allows her to work from home.
“I have it easy because my job allows me to be flexible,” she said. “So maybe next week, I’ll take them to a water park.”