Tuesday, February 21, 2017

5 ESSENTIAL Things I Filled Out on Forms for Day Camp



I once signed my kids up for summer day camp.   Little did I know that in doing so, I surrendered nearly an hour of my life to form completion. Blissfully unaware of the impending task, I registered online, paid by credit card, and figured that would be that.

Wrong.

As the start date approached, the camp director called looking for my kids' day camp packets. I didn't have the faintest idea what she was talking about. Packets? 

Yes, she explained, the packet of forms that she needed for each of my three children to attend day camp. 

Ah, yes, the forms. We were members. We had played soccer, basketball, and even took a kids yoga class through this facility. Each of these activities came with its own set of laborious forms. So, when I explained to her, I had already done them for our membership activities I figured that would be that.

Wrong again.

There were multitudinous additional forms needed specifically for Day Camp. I tried to protest but quickly understood the futility. No forms? No day camp. No day camp meant no time for quiet, focused work and instead meant kids interrupting me hour after hour, day after day, week after week while I tried to meet publication and client deadlines. I shuddered. 

Without any other option, I downloaded the forms from the site and printed them. No, I couldn't do them online, and no, there isn't an app for that. I asked. 

When the printer ran out of paper, I realized that the "packet" of forms might be better described as a "booklet" as the number of pages had already soared into the double digits. My initial reaction was to punt and skip day camp altogether, but then I remembered how much fun holiday vacation had been a few short months ago. I didn't relish reviving my role as the screen time police and refereeing stupid arguments about whose turn it was to pick up the Uno cards.

Needless to say, I got to work on three sets of packets of mostly double-sided forms. 

Right out of the gates, I felt irritated. They asked for my home, work, and mobile number at the top of the first form. To be fair, this request for multiple numbers comes up a lot, e.g. at the doctor's office, school, and (inexplicably) the oil change place. However, the frequency of its utterance does not alter the fact that it's an old query. If you want to call someone and you don’t go with the mobile, maybe you shouldn't be in charge of making phone calls anymore. 

Despite my annoyance, I complied; I wrote the same one three times, which in my case is honesty, not facetiousness. Turns out, the telephone number lines were just the beginning.


Here are five ESSENTIAL things I had to fill out on the forms:
  • Disclosure about whether my daughter had an abnormal menstrual history: Okay, no, because she's six...but what is going on at Day Camp that my daughter’s menses needs to be on their radar anyway?


  • Whether or not my children have ever had problems with diarrhea or constipation: At the risk of revealing too much, who hasn’t? In a giddy bout of sarcasm, I relished explaining it to them in literary detail. Ultimately, I decided against writing yes and attaching my three-page essay called, ‘Mom! I Just Peed out My Butt.’”


  • Medication information for my kids that don't take medication: Listen, if your child has prescriptions they need to take, then, by all means, fill out the form. But if not, is it necessary to fill out the whole home address and three phone numbers lines again just to write, NO MEDS on it? Only if you want your kids to go to day camp.


  • Permission to use sunscreen: I conceded the "Authorizing Use of Sunscreen" form was legitimate because of allergies until I read, “I authorize the staff to directly apply the sunscreen to my child.” I wanted to say no just so I could learn how one applies sunscreen indirectly. Do they squirt it in the air tell the kids to walk through it? 


  • A big fat lie: The "Release and Waiver of Liability and Indemnity Agreement" is where you say you won't sue if your child gets seriously injured or killed on day camp's watch. Let’s be clear, day camp, if you seriously injure or kill my child, a lawsuit might be the least of your worries. 
This packet had the reek of lawyer all over it.  It was long. It was wordy. It was needlessly redundant. And it was just ironclad enough that you would likely think twice before pursuing a lawsuit should something go wrong (heaven forbid). 

The fact is the forms are what makes day camp possible. If it meant that I could get some work done over the summer "vacation," I would have jumped through whatever hoops you put in front of me.  And apparently, that included form packets that produce enough carbon footprint and deforestation to make Al Gore get his panties in a twist and me to wear shorts in February. 

Day camp planning is just around the corner. I can hardly wait for the camp or the forms. In fact, I am just finishing up the editing on my new essay called, "Why ISN'T there an App for this yet?"