The Activities That Almost Were (and the cost of the ones that are).

by jolyn on November 10, 2010

in Kids' Expenses

Rowing on the Great Miami River

It took a few weeks for us to settle into our Fall routine of school and various activities. Mainly because my kids kept changing their minds about what they wanted to do!

I’m no soccer mom. But.

I’m all about dabbling at the younger ages: what better time for them to explore all that is out there? And I admit that I get a little excited about the opportunities myself: growing up in Small-town, Kansas some… years ago, I simply didn’t have the chance to try most of the things that my kids have access to today. But there’s a fine line between Taking Advantage and Going Overboard. And I think we almost crossed it when Conner decided to try Rowing for the first time.

Did you say… Rowing?

Thing is, it was actually my idea.

What Conner really wants to do is play tennis. In fact, that’s all he wants to do. But boys’ tennis isn’t until the Spring, so when I saw some information about the Greater Dayton Junior Rowing Team for the Fall season I brought it to Conner’s attention. “Think of the great workout and how strong your arms would be for tennis!” I had no idea that rowing actually utilizes more of the leg muscles than the arm. Nor was I thinking of how perfect a fit Conner’s body was for rowing in general, his being in the lighter category, you might say, thereby requiring less raw muscle to propel along the surface of the water. In fact, I knew very little about rowing at all other than it requires a boat and some oars and some water and was associated with highfalutin ivy league schools on the East Coast.

Conner readily agreed to give it a try. I think he had visions of bulky biceps in his head. I didn’t have the heart to tell him his genetic disposition tends more toward the lean look, no matter how much muscle he acquired.

The Truth About Rowing

The Rowing program allows you to try it for a week before any payment is due. Conner was nervous at first, not having any clue about rowing in general, other than the occasional ride in grandma and grandpa’s canoe in the park in their backyard. Like many kids, Conner felt like he’d be the only one not having any idea what he was doing.

Of course, this fear was alleviated within the first five minutes. And Conner was sucked in pretty quickly. It was beautiful, sunny, Fall weather! Who wouldn’t want to be out on the water, coasting along under a canopy of Ohio trees on the cusp of displaying their fall foliage?

Thing is, you’re not exactly “coasting,” and Conner discovered what hard work rowing is by the second day when his blisters started to rear their ugly heads. And while he relished the soreness of his muscles and gained great satisfaction from perfecting the rowing technique that alluded him the first day but seemed natural to him by the fourth, he contemplated the dedication and commitment that would be required of him — and me — if he decided to continue for the rest of the season. And ultimately he decided it wasn’t for him.

And I was more than okay with that. After all, he had tried it, and considered it seriously. That was enough for me. Just because you try something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

And besides the cost — which was daunting — the time commitment on my part as well as his was prohibitive. Naturally, rowing requires a river. And the river is downtown, through traffic and construction, and not exactly next door to our house. And it required me driving, every day, twice a day, to take him and pick him up. Yes, we were hoping to share that duty with at least one other rower and family, but Dayton Rowing involves kids from all over the Dayton area, and during our one week we had still not managed to become acquainted with anyone who lived in our little part of suburbia.

Dayton Area Junior Rowing

The Dayton Area Rowing offers Varsity- and Beginner-level rowing. The two differ in cost and time commitment.

  • Varsity practices six days a week, costs $400, and competes in three Regattas, all out of town.
  • Beginner practices three days a week, costs $250, and competes in the first two Regattas with the Varsity.

Unlike other sports, the level you participate in is dictated more by your own preference rather than in your ability. I learned that, in Rowing, success is mainly determined by persistence and commitment. The coach told me that, if he had his druthers, he would go to any school and pick out his rowers from the Academic Honor Roll with no regard for natural athletic ability. High-achieving students often possessed the dedication and determination that inevitably turned them into successful rowers. (Maybe this is why it’s associated with so many Ivy League schools?)

Rowers who could one day earn a college scholarship, I must add. Did you know that female rowers, in particular, are sought after by many university rowing teams? They’re needed to off-set all of the scholarships given out to football players and the like. The coach told me that one of their senior rowers just received a full-tuition rowing scholarship to a nearby university — and it was her first year of rowing! Just something you might want to consider for your ambitious daughter looking ahead to how she’s going to pay for a college degree…

But not for Conner — who, besides being a guy, has decided that rowing is just not for him. Which is okay! Rowing is certainly not for everyone. And I think if Conner had decided to stick it out for a season and I’d been driving him back and forth, to and fro, for these past two-plus months? I probably would have gone off the deep end. Pun intended. We’ve just had so much going on, physically and emotionally, with John’s move to California and trying to sell this house and still not selling this house and not knowing when the kids and I will be joining their dad and blah-blah-blah.  I’m not sure I could have handled the extra burden, as much as I would have wanted to support Conner’s commitment, had he decided to make one.

And this is besides the $400 we would have forked out.

And it’s not like Conner’s brother and sister haven’t haven’t been keeping me busy with activities of their own. In the spirit of Changing Minds, at the beginning of the year Olivia also decided she didn’t want to be involved in Girl Scouts (Brownies) after all. I lost the $12 I had paid at the beginning of the summer for pre-registration, but tore up the $30 check I was giving for the annual fee.

But never fear! For Olivia replaced that relatively cheap activity with one much more expensive: gymnastics!

All in All, the Breakdown of Costs for our Fall:

  • $40 Gymnastics registration fee.
  • $279 for Gymnastics: $93/mth. (Olivia started in October.)
  • $382.50 for Dance (Jazz, Tap & Ballet): $22.50/wk.
  • $350 for Karate: 3 mths.
  • Total: $1,051.50.

Ooch. It kinda hurts seeing it all in black and white like that.

And to think, Olivia wanted to take Karate, too. And she’s wondering when she gets to take swimming lessons again. And when she can start learning to play the trumpet…

She’s a whirling dervish, that one.

How about you? What’s the damage for your Fall activities? Anyone out there spending more than I am?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Oh, and stay tuned. Coming up next month will be a summary of what we’ve spent on kids’ activities for the entire year.

Woo-hee!

And no, I have never faced tallied anything like that before. I might need to gird myself with some extra fortification for that one.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura November 13, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Because of our budgeting woes, we gave up activities (sports and music) this year for all three of our kids, and although I don’t miss the expense, I worry that they’re not doing anything particularly constructive with their extra-curricular time. We did manage to send our oldest to China for two weeks back in April (not an optional trip) and are already saving for our middle daughter to take a field trip next spring, and for our youngest to go to Outdoor School next fall. All those cost as much as participating in a sport would or would have, but we have to pick and choose until we get some more of our debt paid down (which is why I HATE having so much debt). The field trips this and next year are one-time costs versus ongoing expenses, so we chose the field trips for now.

Thankfully our oldest is not interested in sports, but the two younger girls are. Our middle daughter wants to run cross country, and our youngest wants to play lacrosse. Cross country isn’t too bad, cost wise, but lacrosse can get costly real quick.

[Reply]

jolyn Reply:

We cut our kids’ expenses way back when we were actively attacking our snowball, which is now gone. We kept out daughter in dance, is all. I do think parents can go overboard on activities at the expense of both their sanity and their finances. But I also see the value in these activities for our kids…. So it’s a compromise. I think if you have a plan, it’s easier to curtail the expenses when you know it’s for a purpose and for a finite amount of time. Too many parents, I fear, don’t face or recognize the very real choices they are making with their finances when they sign up their kids for expensive activities.

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Lindy Mint November 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm

It’s tough to balance. You want your kids to have good experiences being involved in activities. But you’re right the back and forth and the costs can be craze-inducing to us parents. Especially to you, flying solo for the time being.

My son is in karate, but I’m fortunate that my dad takes him (and pays for it too – woohoo!). He offered to do it as grandfather/grandson bonding time.

[Reply]

jolyn Reply:

What a wonderful grandfather-son thing to do! I hope to do something similar with my own grandkids someday. :)

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Crystal @ BFS November 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

My husband just wrote a check for $380 for Curling (yes, the ice sport…and yes, we live in Texas, lol). It’ll cover him from now until April though. He also just laid out $130 for board games for our gaming group. So, I don’t need kids, I have my husband, lol. :-)

[Reply]

jolyn Reply:

Ha ha ha ha! This made me LOL. What’s next, ice hockey? ;)

But seriously- what types of board games are you guys enjoying?

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Cathie November 11, 2010 at 10:16 am

oops. That was three 6 week sessions. A little more reasonable.

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Cathie November 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

Only 230.00 for travel soccer, which is Fall and Spring. BUT since his team has turned out to be the Bad News Bears of soccer, we will be enrolling him in Ultimate soccer training sessions, to the tune of $250.00 for three 3 week sessions. This will take away the “break” between fall and spring. (And hopefully make him a stronger player.) Don’t know how much Karate is going to be yet. We tried it out in the recreation dept, and he loves it, so time for signing up for real.

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jolyn Reply:

Yea, for keeping track!

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Nicole November 11, 2010 at 9:22 am

$297 for Bowling (+$18 for first tournament) so far. Not counting $2 every Saturday for snacks (somehow mine don’t cut it and $2 is our compromise). No Swimming lessons, no dance (although I tried to get him interested last year), and he refused to play in the band this year. He has only been really interested in track and field otherwise. Not a natural athlete on my hands!

[Reply]

jolyn Reply:

Is there a bowling season? I honestly have no idea.

[Reply]

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