Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How to Raise an Entire Generation of People Who Hate Vacations

For most people, a resort vacation means lounging on the beach and sipping tropical drinks by the pool. For Jillian Haversat, a recent trip to Florida also included biology lessons, pop quizzes and "no-talking-without-raising-your-hand" rules.

That's because Jillian, an 11-year-old from Guilford, Conn., was taking part in the Ritz-Carlton, Naples kids' program. In the program, "Nature's Wonders," participants wear mini-lab coats and peer under microscopes to examine the cell structure of plants. Another activity teaches kids about the feeding habits of red-footed tortoises (Their favorite meal: cat food and worms.) Kids also play a a version of "bingo" with words like "conifers" and "ornithology."
Or maybe they'll just hate their parents.

Who I notice are not taking any business classes or quizzes and are, in fact, talking and lounging on the beach and (probably) sipping exotic drinks with those little umbrellas in them.

Whatever happened to everyone taking a bucket and shovel and going for a family walk on the beach?

Oh, right. I forgot. That is an awful lot of trouble for those parents. They can't put their kids in the kennel with the pets, but have found the next best thing.


  1. Tante Leonie4/14/10, 12:41 PM

    Lord, have mercy -- how grim and joyless!

    I never understood why some people are so anxious (even desperate) to have children and then are detached and uninvolved with them -- totally disinterested in developing family life together.

  2. Because it's all about them ... and parenthood (let's face it) is not easy. You have to work at it, like marriage and most good things in life. So sad for those little tykes though ...

  3. Julie, you need to stop holding back and tell us how you *really* feel. Keeping things bottled up is not good for you.


  4. Who doesn't love an "Edutainment" style vacation?

    Me. Me. Me Me Me. and

  5. Sometimes we should all be like Winnie-the-Pooh and not-think in the 100-Acre-Wood.

  6. Well, it depends. I went to several educational summer camps, including a couple that were all about classrooms and writing papers. But they were interesting classes and fun papers, and we did have a lot of fun activities and free time mixed in.

    Also, I am a really huge geek and do library tourism all the time on vacations even now. Imagine me before I had Internet, with much stronger book hunger, and you can see why I didn't mind taking a class on Arthurian lit at summer camp, not to mention getting on that strange Internet thing for the first time. ;)

    However, I agree that this isn't something that most kids should be thrown into, that most kids today have too little unscheduled free time to play, and that no matter how fun the camp, it's still not going to fill the need for unscheduled relaxation. And most of my camps were all about hiking and camping and crafts, because my parents wanted me to get fresh air and socialization skills. :)

  7. Re: family vacation --

    What you're supposed to do is bring along a grandma, cousin, or older sibling to watch the other kids, while the parents go back to the room and... relax. Yeah. That's it.

    Yes, I know some people ditch their kids at every opportunity, but I seem to recall my parents being perfectly happy to send us down to the pool once we could go by ourselves; or when we were little, to spend an awful lot of time lounging at poolside while we played hard in the actual pool. Since we were usually all together every waking hour except for school/work, that was also part of the whole family vacation thing.

    Of course, I really can't picture the whole "resort vacation" thing anyway. We went on vacations to Do Stuff and See Things, not to stay in the same place doing nothing. If we wanted to do that, we went and visited Grandma. :)

  8. Come to think of it, whenever we visited Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad went off shopping so the grandparents could have us all to themselves. Amazing how that worked. :)

  9. I guess it's not bad if you break up for a couple of hours and then reunite the rest of the time. But if you only saw the kids for a couple of hours and were apart the rest of the time, you might as well have sent the kids off to camp instead of pretending to go on vacation with them.

  10. I'm going to dissent a bit. If these were all-day-every-day activities, then yeah, I have to wonder. But if it's just a matter of the parents dropping the kids at a three-hour class where the kids make mud pies and learn about guppies and sea stars, then it might be good for the kids (gives them a silly activity) and gives the parents a chance to rest a bit.

    1) at least these parents are taking the kids on vacation, rather than dumping the kids with relatives and going by themselves.

    2) some time apart may re-energize the parents so they can be more active during the time they're together with their kids.

    If the program is short enough, it might give the grown-ups time for some adult activities (like socializing with their elderly aunts at a family reunion type thing -- in all fairness, that's how I ended up in a program like that 20 years ago) while giving the kids an outlet to be silly and kid-like.

    Obviously it can be used wrongly, but just about anything can be.

  11. Philangelus says in brief what it took me a zillion posts to say.

    (I gotta cut down on the caffeine. Sheesh.)

  12. Of course, you both have good points. And there are exceptions to every rule, naturally. But let's get real.

    It was when they said that there were quizzes and rules about when you could talk that it didn't sound like fun ... no matter how the parents like to sell it to themselves (and the hotel likes to sell it to parents) this is overall not the benign thing that you both are describing.

    I understand getting away, sending the kids to the pool, etc. But this isn't the same. We were sent to grandparents' for several weeks each summer and each group had a grand time away from each other. That's healthy. But it's different.

    Whatever happened to letting kids be bored? That is when some of the best "personal development" (yuck for that phrase) happens?

    You want brainy kids to have fun? Send them to camp. Send them to the museum's day camps. Don't take them on vacation and pretend everyone is having a grand time spending no time together. Part of family vacation is learning to get along together ... as a family. Period.

    Obviously, I still say, "BOOOO!"

    (Trying to come out of my shell for this one! ha!)