Children - Travelling with Them & Getting Rid of Them at Summer Camp
Travelling with Kids
with Kids is exciting and a challenge. Been there. Done that.
The lesson we learned
is to buy the kids the T-shirt. Lots of goodies make the move much more
palatable. You can start with a few decent books and videos before the big
day to help them get used to the idea.
- If your children are of an age to understand
what's happening, they should be well primed for their new life. Picture
books of Ireland can be found at the local library and should help prepare
Older kids will have very different requirements.
If they're mature enough, your teenager should take part in, or at least be
kept informed of, all major plans. In many ways their uprooting will be more
difficult, so help them cope.
Some Books for Kids
To help prepare the younger set for the big day, there's nothing like a good book to help kids cope. Here are a few highly recommended books for the younger set.
|The new girl mixes with a fast and jaded crowd. Funny and will appeal to teen girls. Definitely not for the younger set!
||Boomer, the dog, confronts his container. While the move here is by car, the experience is relevant to kids bringing pets.
||This one's for the lads. The would-be knight plans moving his "castle" - armour, swords and fireplace.
||My girls loved the Berenstain books and we read them this book back when they were wee wonkers. It's a goodie.
||Alexander has always been a great character. Faced with a move, he opts out. You can guess the rest.
An Image of Ireland
are the kids will be taking an interest in things Irish. Both children and
adults will probably enjoy viewing a few classic videos featuring Ireland.
John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Robert Mitchum, The Commitments - all feature
on Irish videos. Check them out at your local video store.
The Big Day - The
We wanted our two girls to take part unreservedly
in the move. They were four and eight years old at the time.
Each was allowed to choose one small stuffed
animal or doll to bring with them, along with a very few books and treasured
items. Then we adults picked out about a dozen small, but interesting toys,
which we kept hidden from them until on the plane. We doled out a new present
every hour, which helped relieve the tedium of the 13 hour flight, and had
the girls excited about the trip beforehand. Crayons, tiny Lego kits, scissors,
simple purse and bracelet craft kits, comics, candy, stickers, Polly Pocket
sets, and suchlike formed our boodle. The stuffed animals were a great comfort
for the girls during their first nights in Ireland.
Other suggestions I've
Film your wiggly toddlers
favourite video on your handheld video camera. Replay it in flight, letting
them watch it on the small screen. (Tip: bring extra batteries!) Or, these days, if you've got the moolah to invest in really expensive toys, bring a portable DVD player.
Leading up to the trip,
take a little photo of your children. Put them in your purse, wallet or bag.
If you become separated from your child, you will have a photo of what your
child looks like RIGHT THEN.
When selecting toys for
your baby or toddler on a long trip, remember to leave the "noisy"
or "musical" toys at home. Although they are entertaining, they
can be very disturbing to other passengers, (especially anything that sounds
even remotely like a police siren) and no matter how much your baby loves
"the cow says 'moooo', you're going to find yourself in an air rage situation.
CJ offers these helpful tips:
"I have a few ideas on travel. We have five kids and it can be a real hassle.
The most important thing is to relax. Kids can pick up on the stress of the moment! Calm mommy makes for calm kids - usually.
I wouldn't recommend dragging a big stroller around. Keep it light. Or better yet, go without it. Can your baby walk? We've found it's better to let them walk off some energy in the airport so they are able to sit on the plane for a longer time.
Taking the stroller is more of a hassle in my experience. A baby sling can be used up to around age 2 for most babies. My favorite is www.mayawrap.com. There are others out there too, I'm just giving my favorite a plug. Slings are great as you can breastfeed in them, use them as a blanket, sleep on the plane with baby firmly cuddled up next to you.
If you have a lot of boxes to drag into the airport, pay a skycap to take them in for you. He'll want $1-2 per bag, but it's easier than dragging eight bags and boxes with a toddler in tow.
Another thing is your carseat. They can be tricky to install into a taxi. Is your child in a booster yet? Maybe you'd want to just use the booster part for the taxi ride. When we took our carseat on the plane, our son wouldn't sit in it for the flight. I ended up holding him almost the entire time. So, on the way home we checked it into cargo. And remember, many of the new seats are not rated for airplanes and you might not be able to use them. Check the labels.
This is obvious, but make sure you really need all the stuff you have in those boxes. What's in them? If it's something like clothing, maybe a duffle bag would be better so you could cram it into a cab easier than a rigid box. Every time we've moved, there have been things we should have just tossed into the trash instead of schlepping them around.
On the plane, make sure you have a bunch of fun items for your child to play with. My favorites are mechanical colored bencils, etch-a-sketch or magna-doodles, coloring books or mazes, magnetic games or puzzles, or just a plain spiral notebook for drawing. Bigger kids like those handheld games like electronic Yahtzee and Simon.
And of course, bring lots of little snacks that take a while to eat (to keep them busy, ha ha). Cheerios, goldfish crackers, etc. The airplane has lots of juices, so don't bother packing a bunch of those. They will give you whatever you need and also heat up any bottles if you are using them."
The Irish summer camp tradition started with Padraig Pearse, leader of the 1916 Easter Uprising. He was a teacher and he owned a little cabin in the back of beyonds in County Galway. He used to bring his Dublin students there for a couple of weeks of living rough and studying the Irish language.
Nowadays, there are dozens of Irish language summer schools and also other language schools have now started. But, summer camp in the American sense - not tied to language studies - is very rare. At least that's true for overnight camps. A jump-off point to find the nearest Irish summer camp is a site I put up for the largest consortium of Irish Summer Language Colleges.
However, all over Ireland day camps have sprung up. These are usually run by the County councils or in conjunction with them in some way and are often based in the local sports centres. They're well flagged in all the local papers and are aimed at youngsters usually starting at about 7 to 14.
You'll have to examine the local paper or a local website to find them. Or, call your local sports centre - they'll be able to put you in touch with a local day camp.
Slightly different is the Eurolanguages College which provides French and German immersion courses in WestMeath, near Mullingar. Our daughters went there at the recommendation of their German teacher and had a fine time and came back jabbering Deutsch at their bewildered parents. They also attended both day and overnight sessions Ring College, one of the largest and most well known of all the summer schools. The fact that it's just across the bay from us in Dungarvan was the deciding factor in that decision, but they had fun times there as well.
Music and Dance: Every town in Ireland has music teachers. There's also Comhaltas - http://www.comhaltas.com - the great Irish traditional music volunteer group with chapters everywhere. Kids get wonderful training for very little. There are also brass bands and pipe and drum bands in many towns.
Swimming: All Irish towns these days have swimming pools, frequently municipal, but certainly there will be hotels with leisure centres and pools. They all offer swimming lessons, swim clubs and family/kid rates.
Martial Arts: Karate or variations of martial arts are growing in popularity. Again, all the cities have some place that offers lessons and there are clubs in many small towns. A good place to start is the Irish Martial Arts Commisasion - http://www.martialarts.ie/
Staying In Touch
Gillian advises, "I would highly reccomend to people leaving behind family is to get a webcam. We got one before leaving and have been using it to chat with our family back home, you need high speed internet but it's been worth the price to be able to have our son actually see grandma and grandpa (of course now he thinks the computer will always have someone waiting to talk to him)."