I'm an American sending my kids to camp in Italy. It's cheaper and kids eat freshly cooked meals.

I'm an American sending my kids to camp in Italy. It's cheaper and kids eat freshly cooked meals.
  • I'm an American mom of two kids, ages 5 and 9 months old.

  • I'm married to an Italian man and gave birth to my children here.

  • Summer camp in Italy has less structure, and my daughter eats freshly cooked meals.

I'm an American living in Italy. I've lived here for almost 10 years and have two children, a 5-year-old daughter and a 9-month-old soon. Last year sent my daughter to summer camp for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised.

Summer camp in Italy is nothing like what we think of in the US. But there's good and bad to that, on certain ends.

Camp is cheaper in Italy

My daughter goes to camp where we live in our small town. So while I can't relate to the cost of camp in bigger cities like Rome or Milan, the camp she goes to costs 160 euros a month. Yes, a month. And that is for a full day of camp, which includes fresh lunch that is made and served on the campus.

While it's been years since I was a child and went to camp, all I know is that when I was younger and my parents sent me to a prestigious theater summer camp and it was around $2,000 a month and we're talking 20 years ago.

My child plays freely and there's less structure

At summer camps in Italy, the children are sort of like free range chickens. There are not always organized activities and the children are encouraged to play freely with their friends. Also, kids of all ages play together and they are not separated into age groups.

I like that a lot. I believe that in the summer, children should have the freedom to just have fun as opposed to a more strict routine and schedule like when they are in school. But on the other hand, children, especially at a certain age, can benefit from more structure.

My daughter learned about agriculture

Italy is a country that very much relies on the land. Italians are very proud people and want that tradition to keep going, especially when it comes to taking care of their own land and reaping the benefits.

The camp my daughter attends is based in the countryside surrounded by olive trees, cherry trees and a beautiful vegetable garden. There are also baby goats, a donkey and chickens. On the first day of camp this year, they picked fresh cherries from the cherry tree. Cleaned them. And then made fresh cherry jam. The children were sent home with bags of fresh cherries and a small jar of jam. Last year, the kids collected eggs from the chickens and made frittatas for lunch.

I love that at such a young age they are teaching children about the benefits of having and keeping land and everything that you can get from it.

She eats freshly cooked food

Food served at camps in Italy — and schools for that matter — is made fresh and on site. At my daughters camp, no processed food is served. Every day the children are served a first course (pasta, usually) and a second course. Lunch last year included pasta with beans, pasta with peas, pasta with cheese, prosciutto with fresh mozzarella, chicken cutlets with cucumber salad and baked fish with carrots. You won't see any lunchables served at camp here.

Camp in Italy is great. My daughter and all of her friends love it. Yes, it's completely different from an American camp which usually has more structure and routine, much like going to school. But that's what makes it so wonderful.

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