Although summer break is still a couple of months away for most of us, it’s time to start looking into summer camps. Camps run the gamut from programs that take your child for just a few hours to those that take your child for a week or more. Depending on your child’s interests, they can be quite expensive. If you stay home during the summer, or even if you can just take a week off, you might be able to get together with a few other parents in your area and put on a summer camp right in your own community, for minimal cost. Here are some tips:
Decide on your group. You’ll need to have a minimum number of kids to keep it fun and a maximum number to keep it controllable and safe; we have done this in the past and aimed for six to ten children. This allows two moms to take charge of the group each day, and allows for an average of three to six families, depending on the number of kids in each family. It’s nice for each mom to have a day or two “off,” so keep this in mind. Also, consider that one family might be sick one day, so if there are only two families involved, you may find your camp only consisting of your own children, which isn’t as fun or exciting for them.
Find a common interest. If you have a group of nine-year-olds who love horses, then you don’t have to spend much time looking for an idea of what sort of camp to hold. On the other hand, most groups will have children (and their siblings) of varying ages and with different interests. You’ll need to gear your topic to something that will work with a wide age range if this is the case. Some possibilities include cooking camp (the bigger ones can do the harder jobs while the little ones do the mixing and pouring), sports camp (play a different sport each day, and group the kids by age), and art camp (everyone works to their ability). You could also split the kids into two groups and have two separate camps for each group. It all depends on your group’s dynamics.
Choose a location. Do you want to switch houses, have it at one house, use a room at your church or library, or have it at a local park? Consider what the weather is likely to be like, the types of activities you’re doing, and how much mess it is likely to make. You’ll need to have a bathroom nearby and a plan for feeding everyone if the camp is to last more than a couple of hours each day. Switching locations keeps everything fresh and new for the kids and puts less stress on one mom as far as cleaning and preparing goes, but it also can mean moving materials from place to place.
Make up a schedule. Decide on the hours of the camp and what times you’ll do which activities. A good rule of thumb is to switch activities every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the ages of the kids; younger children have shorter attention spans. Try to alternate between activities done sitting down and those done while running around to prevent the kids from getting too antsy. Remember, you’re not trying to replicate school, just to teach the kids a little something while they have a good time!
Even if your kids go to camp this summer, this can be a fun way to spend a week and alleviate boredom in your kids and their group of friends. Will you consider putting on an at-home camp this summer? Tell us about it!