Getting more out of summer activity options

Posted: August 25th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Gen-X in a Millennial World | No Comments

By Genevieve A. Suzuki | Gen-X in a Millennial World

Sorry to sound like Archie Bunker, but kids these days have no idea how lucky they are.

When I was in grade school, I had two choices: attend “summer fun” — a glorified day care across the street that boasted teenage junior leaders flirting with each other while we wildly ran around the playground — or stay home and watch one of four or five channels on television as we didn’t have the thousand-channel service that confounds us today.

(Courtesy of Genevieve A. Suzuki)

Of course, I always chose the first option, because what child wouldn’t want to play all day? After three years of this, however, my mom got wise to the whole “program” and decided to keep me home with her, where she worked as the resident manager of a 100-unit apartment building. As entertaining as tenant issues were, there were days where I would stare longingly across the street at old summer friends screaming and running back and forth while teens feigned interest.

These days, however, parents have quite the job when it comes to planning their children’s summers for we no longer have one or two choices. Now we are tasked with creating our own amazing summer program featuring weekly activities for our kids.

And it ain’t cheap.

Weekly summer camps around San Diego County can cost anywhere from a little less than $200 to more than $1,000, which places many parents in a financial pickle. Thankfully, there are a few organizations, such as the local YMCA, which offer scholarships for families who need help funding these summers.

In the meantime, if a family does not qualify for financial assistance, saving for the summer may as well start in September.

(Courtesy of Genevieve A. Suzuki)

This year, we signed our daughter, Quinn for six camps, several of which were through the city of La Mesa, which offers affordable options for the summer.

Initially, I admit I was wary. Like the shoppers who pay more for brand name bags that serve the same function as the generic versions, I didn’t know if paying less would translate into getting less.

In the end, of Quinn’s favorite summer experiences, one of her top three camps was via the city of La Mesa.

And although she also tried out comic art and volleyball, her favorite was actually fencing, hosted by LionHeart Academy.

Okay, sure, what 8-year-old wouldn’t want to run around with a pseudo weapon, but this program was extremely well done. She learned the difference between epee, foil and sabre, and basic etiquette for fencers.

My husband, a teacher who has summers off, came home one day with Quinn animatedly discussing what she had learned. Quinn admitted she wasn’t the best, but she enjoyed competing, and for us, that was a huge accomplishment. Another bonus was she made friends she has since seen at other La Mesa events, such as Sunday at Six at Harry Griffen Park.

For anyone interested in worthwhile summer camps that don’t break the bank, I highly recommend checking out our local city of La Mesa offerings. In fact, the city offers year-round classes for a fraction of the cost of other similar programs.

This year, I learned to buy local when it comes to my daughter’s activities. It not only benefited us financially, but also helped us continue to get to know our community.

Interested in signing up your kids for local fun? Go to “Explore La Mesa” at

—Genevieve A. Suzuki is a local attorney who lives and works in La Mesa. Her website is

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