By the time I arrived at the line of parents waiting on West 120th Street to submit their children’s applications to science camp the following July, Michael Nelson had been there for over 13 hours. It was 1 a.m. in late November, and he was only number seven on the list.
A motley crew of parents, nannies and hired hands were camping for the highly desirable Hollingworth Science Camp: first come, first served. By daybreak there were more than 60 of us along the side of Teachers College reading iPads or books, huddling under blankets or sleeping bags, watching movies on laptops or talking to friends, strangers and new-found colleagues.
Run by Columbia University’s Teachers College, the five-week camp is for grades K-4. It has a great reputation, a reasonable (for Manhattan) price tag and, most importantly, priority registration for all future years AND for siblings. One successful application and your children are assured of priority applications until your youngest is out of 4th grade.
We clustered, sharing stories, comparing — with full knowledge of the irony — our own situation with those who had camped out at Zuccotti Park earlier in the month and chewing over the drama of the early evening.
Michael was only seventh on the list because he had arrived too early. The entryway guards had shown him upstairs to the hallway that we would, at 8 a.m. on Sunday, go to hand in our applications. The next 11 people who arrived had been ushered into a downstairs hallway where, eventually, they were joined by a young woman who had, apparently, been waiting outside. Read the rest of this entry →