Camps for scamps
An American tradition is spreading
SOME have their faces painted as Spider-Man; others as sparkly pink butterflies. Children at Super Camps arrive each weekday morning bright-eyed and lunchbox-laden, ready for an eventful day. Besides wall-climbing (at which, no doubt, the Spider-Men excel), they are made to sing, dance, cook, swim, shoot arrows and create "graffiti art".
The poet William Blake likened kids in school to birds in cages. (Apparently he thought caging them was a bad thing.) During the summer holidays, the little horrors are released and their harried parents must find ways to keep them out of trouble. Americans have long resorted to summer camps. A few weeks in the wilderness teaches youngsters self-reliance and new swear words.
The idea is spreading. In Britain, where childcare is costly-the average family with two earners spends 27% of after-tax income on it-day camps are popular. Super Camps, a national operator, charges ￡38 ($60) a day at most. A smaller rival, Camp Energy in Oxfordshire, charges ￡33. One of the founders of Mumsnet, a parenting website, calls such fees "eye-wateringly expensive". Yet to many, they are a bargain. The minimum hourly wage for childminders is ￡6.08 and they will not teach you how to make fire with flints.
这个主意正在传播。在英国，由于儿童托管的昂贵费用占到拥有两个收入者的普通家庭税后的27% ，因此日间夏令营很受欢迎。国营的超级营地最多一天收费38英镑（合60美元）。一个规模较小的竞争对手—牛津郡的Camp Energy收费33英镑。一个育儿网站Mumsnet网的创始人之一称这种费用"十分昂贵"。 然而对许多人来说,他们很便宜。保育员每小时最低工资是6.08欧元，同时他们也不会告诉你如何用燧石生火。
By one estimate, 250,000 British children attend summer camps each year. Their purpose, says Camp Energy's founder, Barry Grinham, is "to ease the pain of parenting". Their main competitor, says Justine Longford of Super Camps, is free child care from the extended family. Mr Grinham notes that many parents book at the last minute, after relatives cancel on them.
据估计，每年有25万的英国孩子参加了夏令营。Camp Energy的创始人巴里Grinham说, 他们的目的是"为了缓解的父母苦恼"。而超级阵营的杰斯丁朗福德说:夏令营的主要竞争对手,是大家族中其他亲属对孩子的免费照顾.Grinham指出，许多父母会在他们的亲戚没有时间照顾他们的小孩的时候才下的订单。
American camps operate on a grander scale. The American Camp Association estimates that over 10m children, including Sasha and Malia Obama, will attend one this summer. Specialist camps abound: for robotics fans, diabetes-sufferers, children whose parents are in the army or in prison, and so on. Lighter regulations make American camps more fun: safety rules bar British brats from enjoying the risky games that delight their American peers.
美国夏令营的规模更大。美国宿营协会估计，今年夏天包括玛丽亚和萨莎奥巴马在内的有超过一千万的孩子将参加其中的一个。具有针对性培养计划的夏令营比比皆是:针对机器人爱好者的, 针对糖尿病患者的, 针对孩子的父母都在军队或监禁的, 诸如此类。放松的管制使美国阵营更有趣：安全条例禁止英国顽童享受那些带给美国同龄人喜悦的冒险游戏
Some camps are marketing opportunities. US Sports Camps (USSC), for example, is sponsored by Nike, a sporting-goods firm. More than 55,000 kids will attend one of its 450 camps this summer; revenues are nearly $30m a year, says Steve Pence, the president. He reports steady growth in the past four years. "The last thing parents will cut is something for their child," he explains.
USSC is trying to break into China. It has opened sports camps in Beijing and Shanghai, also sponsored by Nike. However, Mr Pence describes the Chinese market as "challenging". Urban Chinese couples typically have one child, whose four grandparents have no other grandchildren. Finding babysitters is easier in Beijing than in Baltimore or Balham.