Once again, summer camp is over. For the third year, my son has spent a month singing, dancing, writing, drawing, acting, and visiting some of the city’s secret nooks and fabulous museums as a part of a theatre camp. And for the third year, I am weepy mess, bursting with pride as my boy blissfully wears a mustache and paper costume on stage and overwhelmingly grateful for the counselors who taught him kid parodies of Pat Benetar songs, who played drama games, and who really work to get kids with an affinity for goofing off in front of an audience.
I love these counselors. They are funny and smart and create lead parts I imagine some equity actors would squeal to play. I try not to tear up when I thank them at the close of my son’s final performance, but I usually do. My kid skips off, begging to go for the full eight weeks next year and I’m clutching the show program, my flip-cam and a big wad of Kleenex.
I manage my gushing gratitude by writing thank-you notes. My grandmother appreciated it. My mother expects it. I believe in it. But this year, I’ve decided to show my thanks with Starbucks gift cards, too.
It might not seem controversial, spending some cash on an adult who inspires my kid and who probably waits tables or takes classes in between their own auditions, but here’s why I paused before I made my purchase: I spend a lot of money on teacher gifts throughout the school year, as most parents do. The winter holidays and end-of-year and teacher-appreciation day presents add up. I am absolutely happy to show my thanks with a gift certificate, but let’s be honest: cha-ching, cha-ching.
So when it comes to camp counselors, should parents dole out gift cards or is a card or a simple thank you enough?
Should we get a break from all that school-year spending during the summer months, or is it important to give an offering to great adults who work with kids all year long?
Is it important to work grateful-for-you gifts into the budget for camp? And can we afford NOT to say thanks this way?