By Jim Harris
School is out and parents are once again faced with the unimaginable horror of being stuck with their children 24 hours a day. Enter the cavalry — summer camp! Luckily, there are a lot of them out there. Unfortunately, though, they fill up quickly, and most are already full. To help out, I have opened several camps of my own, for which I am accepting applications now:
•Camp Swap the Kids: Kids learn macho outdoor skills, like tracking wild animals and frightening them to death with airhorns. (Unfortunately, state law prohibits guns in camp, or I could hire the Friends of the Wissahickon to teach kids how to kill deer.) The real twist, however, is that when camp is over, you get DIFFERENT kids back, and YOUR kids go to some other family. You’re rolling the dice, of course, but really, what have you got to lose? You’re probably sick of your own kids by now, and it will probably take your “new” kids a year to figure out how to push all your buttons, but then you can just send them to Camp Swap the Kids and get some new kids back again.
•Camp Fear: Today’s young brats are not afraid of anything — least of all, adults. When we were kids, we were afraid of everything — parents, teachers, cockroaches, nuclear war — and, of course, we all turned out perfect. So this camp will teach kids to fear things like God, the devil, the government, terrorists, camp counselors and adults in general. Our head counselor is Mel Gibson. Don’t be surprised if your kids return with white hair and a new-found respect for the terrifying world around them.
•Speaking of fear, every parent lives in fear of the day that the children of the world suddenly wake up and realize that adults have no idea what they’re doing. Imagine the anarchy and chaos that would result. In order to lessen the chances of this happening, I have created a camp called Camp Grownups are Great.
Over a three-week period, a team of celebrity rap artists will rhythmically recite a mind-boggling litany of the trillions of things that grownups all know — everything from the reproductive process of the amoeba to the lifetime batting averages of all Phillies players over the last 50 years to the names and dates of birth of every Roman Emperor.
This will all be sharply contrasted to the mere handful of ridiculous things that children and teenagers know, such as how to reach level 5 in the ‘Ninja Warriors’ video game; how to send, like, 50 text messages in five minutes and, like, how to persuade your parents to pay for, like, private school, a new car and breast implants. Youngsters will come away thinking that we adults are really, like, smart, and no one will be, like, the wiser.
•Space Camp: There are other space camps already, but mine is the only one that actually sends your kids into space. The nice thing about this one is that, even though your kids will be 120,000 miles away, you’ll still be able to see them every night (with the aid of a high-powered telescope).
And just in case these camps are completely filled up, maybe you can still grab a place, if you offer enough money to the camp owner (me) in one of my adventure camps, which are all the rage these days:
•Antarctic Adventure: Kids sail down to the coast of Antarctica on a three-masted wooden ship, then fly over the barren, frozen terrain in an observation balloon. Depending on weather conditions, this trip could take up to two years. Participants will be provided with a note to present to their schools upon their return. (“Please excuse Johnny for missing 6th and 7th grades. He was exploring the South Pole.”) Everyone must have up-to-date scurvy inoculations, and not be allergic to whale blubber.
•Appalachian Adventure: Eat squirrels, build a still and marry your cousin (must be 13 or older).
•Camp Back-in-the-Day: Kids live like their parents did. No cell phones, iPods or computers. Learn Latin and Greek; walk three miles to the grocery store wearing cardboard shoes; listen to every song ever recorded by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney and Patti Page; learn to address adults as “sir” and “ma’am”; watch black and white TV.
•Rock ‘n’ Roll Band Camp: Travel in a private jet, punch out paparazzi, get groupies, trash hotel rooms.
•School Camp: (Shhh … Don’t tell the kids until they are at the camp; it’s really school.)
•Camp Caring: Kids learn to care about something other than themselves, Unfortunately, this camp was cancelled due to lack of interest.
Each course at one of my camps is $1,500. No checks or credit cards. Cash only — small bills in a plain brown bag. Meet me in front of the former Borders Bookstore building any night at 2 a.m. Sign your kids up now, and have a lovely summer.