Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Create Your Own Summer Camp

Saving Money Tip #87 - Create Your Own Summer Camp. It’s March, and now is the time for camp sign-ups for this summer. Camp prices vary greatly from very expensive private camps at about $400 per week to cheaper, county playground camps at about $100 per week. However, even cheaper than any of these camps is doing one yourself.

Of course one would have to factor in different costs based on your personal situation to find out if it’s worth it to you. But if you are a stay-at-home mom who is looking to put your child into camp for a week or two this summer, consider creating one yourself with a few friends. It’s remarkably easy and incredibly cheap. Here are some ways to set up a camp:

Suppose you find four friends who are also interested in sending their child to camp for a week? How about each of you, instead, take one day from the week to hold camp at your house? Or alternatively, you can do camp one day per week for the whole summer. So for example, camp would be every Monday and each mom would alternate holding camp at her house on Monday.

All you need is a little creativity, a little bit of money, and a few friends, and your child will attend camp for a week for very little money. Each mom would think of a theme for her day of camp. It could be cowgirl/ranch camp, beach camp, sleepover/pajama camp, cooking camp, nature camp, patriotic camp, water fun camp, camping camp. The ideas are endless.

On your day of camp, you would provide a few fun activities, a snack, a craft or two, some stories, some songs, and some free playtime. That is essentially camp. And on the other days you would drop off your child at your friends’ homes for their camp days.

In Real Life (IRL) – For the past three years my friends and I have held summer camp in our homes. I organized the idea in my moms’ club three years ago. There were 8 of us who participated that first year. We held camp every Wednesday from 1 PM to 4 PM for 8 weeks. Each mom held camp in their home one time and assisted in another mom’s home one time. The other 6 Wednesdays, she dropped her child off. The moms were so creative and the girls had a blast. I have sent my daughter to private camps, Girl Scout camps, and county camps also, and to this day, my daughter says she had the most fun at the camps we made up. As some real life examples, we had cooking camp, nature camp, carnival camp (mine – I’ll go in more detail), pajama party camp, beach camp, around the world camp, on the farm camp, and Aloha camp.

In general, first we had structured activities, then snack, then a craft, and then some free time. For carnival camp, first we played carnival games – toss beanbags in a cut out clown, ducks in a pond, and bowling. The kids loved getting the prizes. Then we had fairground-type snacks - cotton candy, chips, Popsicles, watermelon, and juice boxes. I also had lemonade and water out on the table throughout the day in case they got thirsty in the heat. Next we did face painting and tattoos.

In between, the kids played on the moon bounce (bought at Goodwill for $25 years earlier) and on our swing set. Afterwards, we went inside and did a mosaic clown face craft. I offered a second craft, but most of them were not interested in doing another one. The last 45 minutes were free play. Some played inside and others played outside. The total cost of my activities, crafts and food was well less than $20.

I assisted at Around The World Camp. The mom made up passports and the children visited 4 countries. At each country they learned a few words from the language and either a song or dance or heard a story about that country. They got their passports stamped for each country they visited. Snack was an exotic treat.

For cooking camp, the girls made and ate nachos and also decorated cookies. For nature camp, they all went outside and looked to identify birds. For sleepover camp, they made dream catchers and wore pajamas and played sleepover-type games.

As a mom, it was nice knowing that the girls were in good hands – those of a mom – rather than a teenager. And it was nice to know the other girls whom they were with. As a bonus, the bond among the girls (my friends’ children) grew stronger.

In subsequent years, we have whittled camp down to five of us. In these cases we just had one mom hold camp with no assistant. Two years ago, camp lasted one day per week for 10 weeks, with each mom holding camp twice at her home. Last year as the girls got older and busier; we found it best to do just one continuous week of camp with each of us taking a different day. And as moms had other children, we made the “rules” more relaxed – allowing for more free time and fewer structured activities.

That is the nice thing about doing camp yourself, you can suit it to your needs. Once a week, for two weeks straight, many structured activities or few; it’s up to you and your friends. And you can’t beat the price.

1 comment:

monika singh said...

CAMP CARNIVAL DHANAULTI Comment Thanks for sharing good information !