Social Workers of Summer

1 06 2011

Summer is here! You can tell because the fire hydrants are open. Also, the social worker showing up at your door is sweaty and rambling incoherently about camp. Getting kids into camp is not easy or fun. Tracking down updated physicals is such a nightmare that I’ve been tempted to forge immunization dates. (What, it’s not like I’ve ever done it.) And then there’s the delightful experience of navigating waitlists, because apparently everyone else getting a child into camp is some kind of psychic.

Long story short, it keeps me busy. So without further ado, I present to you my first ever guest blogger. She goes by RealityTx–for a dose of reality, one post at a time. Play nice with your new baby brother, jerks.

Camp is Craptastic

Last week found me celebrating that all of my kids had applications to camp and would be able to go. I jumped, hollered, and cheered–something not necessarily welcome in an office full of cubicles. But, my compatriots shared in my joy as I said that all of my kids were in camp.

Let me go back a bit further. Summer camp is the BANE of my existence as a child welfare worker. For most of you, the spring season brings April showers and May flowers. For child welfare workers, it brings the headache of finding a camp willing to care for the kids we work with for the entire summer, ideally for free. The best case scenario is that a local, free camp can be identified, camp forms can be filled out, and recent physical forms can be obtained.

A kid is not considered “in camp” until the full application is complete including a physical form from a doctor. I found a local free camp for one child that I work with who happens to have a sibling in care plus two foster siblings who are camp age (ie. 5-13 years old.) That’s FOUR camp applications to be completed and FOUR medical forms to obtain.

Celebrating too early can put bad juju over the entire camp registration process. That’s what I did last week when I realized that I found camps for all of the kids I work with, plus two more that I dont. (Yes, we are also required to do our foster parents a favor by locating camps for their biologica children as well, since they’re well-paid nice enough to take our kids into their homes.)

Today I call to check in to see if my kids would still be attending camp. Sure enough, the bad juju came to bite me in the ass because I was informed that all 100 slots have been filled and there is a waitlist. With a stack of at least fifty sheets of papers, no less. I was kindly invited to still submit the forms because the kids can be added to the waitlist–the person couldn’t tell me how many kids were on there anyway–so here I am, less than a week later, scrambling to find a camp for these four kids.

Apparently, forty completed applications the first day that the applications were being given out (like how the hell is that even possible?) and all one hundred slots were filled as of last week. What a difference a week makes! Maybe next week I’ll have placed all of these kids in camp, and I can really let loose with my happy dance.

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5 responses

3 06 2011
sarahk

damn… i had no idea. i worked at a summer day camp in nyc for 3 years. it was hell.

4 06 2011
socialjerk

I worked at a free day camp upstate. There were certainly things that I loved about it, but I think “hell” is a fair description. As fun as a trip to the pool is, it kind of brings you down to just be constantly counting to make sure no one drowned.

3 06 2011
mjfrombuffalo

I had teens so for me, it was Summer Youth Employment Program. I was always lucky if I got two of my 10 kids in the program, and even luckier if they both lasted all summer. The bane of my existence was school registration since the high schools wouldn’t even talk to me until the first day of school :-/

4 06 2011
socialjerk

SYEP is ridiculous. I feel like they have a personal grudge against my kids. Not to mention that if the kids/parents don’t make a bit of an effort to get their working papers and physicals, there’s not a lot you can do. And yet, somehow it’s always your fault…

4 06 2011
Weekly Social Work Links 19 « Fighting Monsters

[…] Meanwhile, SocialJerk has a guest post about summer camps. […]

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