Even though a new survey suggests that one fifth of British parents have taken an under-five to a festival, do kids really have a place there?
It's summer and festival season is well upon us. From Edgefest to Glastonbury, there is no shortage of amazing music festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. Obviously parents still want to rock, but the question is, are festivals suitable for young children?
A reporter for the Guardian discovered the resounding answer, after his five-year-old son flung himself on the ground, hands clutched to his ears, screaming "No! No! No!"
After attending the Tragically Hip Canada Day concert at Toronto's Downsview Park, this yummy mummy concedes that music festivals and young children don't really mix. While my own two-year-old stayed at home with a sitter, other children were schlepped around the trash-strewn field way past bedtime and subjected to a rock blare that would likely cause long-term damage to their ear drums.
Before you tsk-tsk the choices of some parents, consider that of 1,500 parents surveyed at parenting website Gurgle.com admitted to taking an under-five to a music festival in the past year.
No one wants to miss out, moms and dads included. Yet, as always, a little common sense goes a long way. It's worth bearing in mind the type of festival and the age of your kids. Five-and-unders should probably give the beer tents a miss.
While stories about someone giving birth knee-deep in Glastonbury mud may make you cringe, festivals can be a great experience for the whole family and a lesson in music appreciation which kids will cherish as they grow older -- when they can brag to their friends, "I saw so-and-so way back when".
Would you bring a young child to a festival, or is it selfish and irresponsible?
With the mercury rising to record-breaking levels all over North America this week -- and yummies everywhere getting hot under the collar -- it's more important than ever to slap on the SPF. But how do you know if you're getting enough, often enough? Many of us are guilty of simply blobbing on the cream and hoping for the best.
Thankfully, Information is Beautiful's David McCandless has done the dirty work for you. Confused and tired of guessing just how much sunscreen was required, and how often, he began looking at studies and doing research of his own. One question led to another, and then another...
"Four months later," he says, "I emerged blinking from the soup of information surrounding sunscreen, ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer, drenched in knowledge."
The somewhat pale-skinned McCandless admits he "really should get out more". Perhaps he'd better wait until the current heat wave subsides, though.
Other tips for staying cool and collected during the melt, courtesy of the Red Cross:
Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day, between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try going out in the early morning or later evening when the sun is not as strong.
Slow down activities that make you hot. Work and exercise in brief periods.
Take frequent breaks.
Dress in light, loose clothing, and wear a hat.
Drink plenty of cool fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
The following diagram illustrates his findings. Further information is available at: informationisbeautiful.net.
The quaint idyll known as summer camp is a thing of the past. Gone are the s'mores and simple dips in the lake. In today's flagging economy, kid camps are a serious and increasingly competitive business.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, it's not enough for kids to just have fun and to boost self-esteem at camp. Parents expect bang for their buck -- be it to "hone lacrosse skills, improve algebra or pad the high-school résumé".
That means there is no time for camp owners to rest on their laurels. These days, the special forces are called in, from "former Brazilian pros coach soccer camp, Oscar winners officiate at film camp, computer game developers teach tech camp — all the better, the pitches go, to get Holly or Howie into Harvard, or at least to sharpen their skills".
With the high cost of basics like gas and food, traditional camps are being squeezed out the market. As industry analysts claim, running a camp has become a matter of survival of the fittest.
This year, according to the American Camp Association, more than 11 million American children will attend camp this year. Summer camp is an equally booming business this side of the border. Since 2007, however, both overnight and day camps have seen their enrolments dip, says Ann Sheets, an association spokeswoman. Many camps have closed up shop.
Perhaps not surprising in these litigious times, where health and safety regulations border on obsessive. Once upon a time the kids were dropped off on parents’ day and picked up in August. Now camp directors spend hours fielding phone calls and e-mails from helicopter parents. There is a long list of medications and food allergies to take into consideration.
Gone is the kind of camp that former Disney chief executive, Michael D. Eisner, fondly recalled in his memoir, “Camp”. “Nobody fails summer camp, a nice respite from winters of fortune and misfortune at school.”
At Pine Forest in the Poconos, campers are offered vegetarian, gluten-free, and kosher dining options. "Then there are special items for children who are allergic to onion powder or peaches, and for kids who won’t eat anything but potato bread or croissants or organic granola bars."
But in spite of it all, Mickey Black remains sentimental about the experience he is providing at Pine Forests. At dusk, he visits cabins named after trees (Birch, Linden, Aspen for boys), and flowers (Iris, Honeysuckle for girls).
“That sound you hear, of kids having fun, is a constant symphony,” Mr. Black said of the laughter and squeals coming from basketball courts. “I love that sound.” Fortunately for his business, it's a sound he never grows tired of hearing.
Image Credit: http://www.pineforestcamp.com/"