Thursday, June 23, 2011

Paper Jam

Here's the scene: it's my bedroom. The bed, to be exact. Nicely made, every thing looking normal, except there's a very large and disorderly pile of papers on the bed. Very, very large.

Suddenly the pile of paper moves. It breathes. It coughs. A voice can be heard from inside the pile of papers - my voice - exclaiming at the volume of paper, the quantity of paper, the sheer duplicative quantity of paper.

Of course - it's the camp paperwork and I've gotten buried beneath it.

My kids have gone to the same summer day camp almost every summer for the last six or seven years. The first year the amount of paperwork was a terrible surprise. I paid the camp fees, filled out a nice little two-sided sheet with our family information and a credit card number and, with a smile on my face, prepared to walk away. Suddenly I was handed a brick of paperwork and told to complete the forms contained in it for each child and then registration would be complete.

There's the normal stuff in there, like the contact sheet with phone numbers, and then there's stuff like the "Get to know your camper" sheet where I have to tell them about my children's psychological foibles to maybe smooth their way through their weeks there. Husband and I have had no small amount of fun over the years imagining what we'd really like to write under "Child's Three Favorite Activities" as opposed to what we actually write there. Not to mention the "Three characteristics that best describe your child." There's the challah order form, the lunch order form, the aftercare form - which needs to be filled out whether we use aftercare or not - and the friend request form. Then there's the one form I have to fill out twice: the medical/immunization form.

I've come to realize this form is created only to torture me since I must obtain my children's immunization records and then transpose those records onto the form. Each year I peer quizzically at the immunization form from the doctor's office, where they've abbreviated certain shots under one name, and tried to match them up to the form, where they've abbreviated them another.

As the years have gone by, my dread of doing this paperwork has sometimes become a deciding factor in whether my kids will go to camp, kind of like the "Sponge-worthy" Seinfeld episode. Is it paperwork-worthy? Is one week of camp worth it to fill out the paperwork? A resounding no. Two weeks? Three?

I jump back in the pile, pick up my pen with my claw-like hand, and finish the task.

Are your kids in summer camp? How voluminous are the enrollment forms? Every get overwhelmed and discouraged by paperwork?


  1. I am a little clingy. My oldest has been overnight to a camp once. lol. This year she will be going for three days and she is 18. It will also be the longest she has ever been away from home. My youngest may attend a church camp here shortly...maybe next year lol. Honestly, just be nutty and write personal exemption under immunizations...they will think y ou are a hippy, but it will save a ton of paperwork. lol.

  2. We can't afford summer camp for the three kids, but the beginning of school forms (times three) sucks rocks. It almost isn' worth it.

    By the way, just finished your book two days ago. What a beautiful read Linda. I especially liked the background history of your family's survival of the Holocaust. Although I am sure it was hard to live in that shadow throughout your life, there is some truly extraordinary about their survival and how it shaped how you and your sister's were raised. Thank you for such a powerful book!

  3. Zoe's preschool paperwork last year was like that. It wanted to know about her siblings, he pets, the special words for things, her words for going potty, he favorite toys, her favorite activities... and at the time I was filling it out, she was only two and I was thinking, "Oh yeah.. she LOVES long walks on the beach, reading War and Peace, practicing her Latin and studying the constellations. She HATES, war, social injustice, big government and the whole cast of Jersey Shore." Damn. I am wishing I had written that now.

  4. Just wait til college application time - or more precisely, the process of applying for financial aid. Not only paperwork, but online forms, more forms, more forms...

    It all makes summer camp registration look like a piece of cake...

  5. I hear you loud and clear, Sister. Every year my kids have gone to the same elementary school for all of their years, and every year they send the same stack of forms. Can't I write see previous year's? Here's the thing: I haven't moved, I haven't changed my home phone number, doctor, place of employment, had anymore children, etc., etc. Shouldn't there be a reward for being so darn stable? Oh,no there I am filling out the forms at midnight hunting down Jack's SS#, which hasn't changed either, in order to get it in so Jack isn't shamed in front of everyone for not bringing the forms back in time.

  6. haha- My kids have been going to JCC camps and they go to Jewish Day school so the challah form made me laugh- The whole three activities your child enjoys cracks me up too- I know what i would put- if I could.

  7. Chris, no sleepaway camps for us either. I fantasize about it but the one experience? Not so great. Missed them like crazy - even the bickering! These are DAYCAMP forms!

  8. Maria, thanks so much about the book! I appreciate it! That part of the book was hard to write, as you can imagine. I had spent so much of my life running from the Holocaust that the idea of sitting down and listening was unbelievable. But when I finally accepted that it was part of my story, I did it. :) Thanks again!

  9. Jennifer, so funny! If I told the truth, they probably wouldn't take my kids! (non stop bickering, can't play well with others...) But love the idea of a pre-schooler reading War and Peace!

  10. BLW, thanks for the warning. I'll start the hand therapy now!

    Michelle, One thing I can't complain about are the school forms (and I feel for you!) I know I'm lucky, but they're FILLED OUT when I get them and I'm only supposed to cross off what's not current information! This is probably to ease my way into signing up for another year of private school tuition!

  11. Ren, we had to say no to the summer camp challahs after we ended up with a freezer full of them from the school year! First I have to get perfect enough at doing Shabbat (I do it, but without a challah...), then I can go back on the challah assembly line!