For many, summer camps have become as integral a part of childhood as school. They provide a safe place for the children of working parents, allow kids to explore new activities and retain and continue their learning, and so much more. However, summer camps can be expensive, from $100 to $400 or more per week. That’s pricy for one child, but if you have more than one, ouch! There is a solution: Do-it-yourself summer camps.
I’ve done this several summers in a row with two friends and they’ve been a big hit with both the parents and the kids. It’s simple: Each parent takes a turn having all the kids at their house. In my situation, we had three moms who each had two kids (our oldest and youngest were all the same age). We chose to have two camp rotations, meaning we selected two weeks over the course of the summer. Each week, one of us had all six kids for one day and therefore each of us had two days without any kids each week.
The most obvious and biggest perk is the cost, FREE! However there are other benefits to making your own summer camps.
- Time: You can choose whatever hours work best for you — could be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or any other time frame that fits your schedule.
- Schedule: You may choose one or more Monday-through-Friday weeks or you may choose two to three days a week over two or more weeks.
- Days: Maybe Wednesdays are the only day that will work for some of the parents; you may choose do camp every Wednesday all summer or throughout July.
Again, this is DIY so it’s all up to you! After you’ve gone through the calendars and chosen your dates, it’s time to organize your camp. It’s nice to have some planned activities as well as some free time.
These are great to keep kids’ bodies and minds moving. Mini obstacle courses are always fun — jumping in and out of hula hoops, jumping rope, popping water balloons on a chair, crawling under broomsticks balanced on sets of chairs and other athletic options. “Freeze Dance” or “Sharks and Minnows” are great activities, too, as are simple things like Frisbee, bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Check Pinterest for summer game ideas.
It’s always nice to have one craft project thrown into the mix. Crafts give the kids a little rest and they love bringing their projects home to show Mom and Dad. Using recycled items can help make these activities cheap — think gluing remnants of ribbons to empty paper towel rolls to make ribbon wands, or filling empty water bottles with water, a bit of food coloring, glitter and spare buttons (be sure to glue the lids on when done to prevent leakage) to make sensory bottles. Look for fun summer craft ideas online.
Depending on how the length of camp days, you may need snacks. Decide in advance if parents will supply the snacks for their children or if the host does. Popsicles, popcorn and cut up fruit and veggies are good options. Get creative by making homemade juice popsicles in paper cups or homemade pudding pops. As with traditional day camps, campers should bring their lunches and drinks and have sunscreen already applied. Kids may also want to bring hats and swimsuits and towels (in case of sprinkler time). Let the fun begin!