Mar 5, 2024 - News

The fierce competition for summer child care in Utah

Illustration of a tent with planks of wood hammered across the opening as if it's boarded up.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Erin, here! Today my family will be joining a scrum of parents online, credit card numbers at the ready, to pound the refresh button with the fervor of a Swiftie seeking concert tickets.

  • It's summer camp registration season!

Why it matters: With a shortage of child care and fewer stay-at-home parents, the competition is fierce for the temporary day camps that fill kids' summers.

Yes, but: We have cool options, with nonprofits, parks departments and libraries getting creative with their options, from rock band camp to Dungeons & Dragons groups.

The other side: I'm certain to get multiple emails today scolding me for not just turning my kid loose to play and get in trouble like the good ol' days.

Reality check: A lot has changed since we were kids. Traffic has gotten heavier. Fewer adults are at home all day.

  • All ages spend less time outside, and sending your kid out with friends and witnesses is very different from sending them out alone.
  • Plus: I had lots of organized summer activities even in the 1980s and '90s.

Flashback: My hometown hosted awesome daily activities and field trips at each neighborhood park — and still I got into trouble.

  • They bused us to a movie — "Karate Kid II" — but then shut down the projector during the final fight scene because the bus drivers had arrived early to take us home.
  • I'd read books where kids booed at movies, so I let out a loud one. A hundred others joined in. My brother ratted me out, and my parents threw the book at me for "inciting a mob."

The bottom line: Kids, a lot goes into keeping you alive and engaged during the summer. Don't boo.


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