Start Your Own Summer Camp
7 steps to create a fun summer program for kids at home
5. Create a schedule
After you've picked a theme and figured out your activities, create a timeline for the day. I started my pirate camp reading pirate books aloud. Afterward, the kids went off into the dining room to paint their treasure chests, an activity I had estimated would take 20 minutes (Mistake #4). Imagine my surprise when two of them finished in, like, two minutes! Next thing I knew, they were tearing toys off the shelves and chasing each other. The lesson? Kids do things at different speeds, so always have some trusty coloring sheets on hand, or another quiet activity set up in another room. It's also a good idea to put away as many toys as possible, to help keep the kids focused and your house from getting trashed.
6. Ditch the schedule
The rest of the morning went fairly smoothly. We went on a scavenger hunt (an activity that works with almost any theme), pretended to walk the plank, and had sword fights with supermarket baguettes. When the children got really into something, I tried to go with it, even if it meant skipping something else. Still, about 45 minutes before the kids were scheduled to be picked up, I noticed they were having trouble paying attention. That's when it dawned on me. Duh, I hadn't scheduled any free play (Mistake #5). So I put aside my itinerary, opened the back door, and let them run free.
7. Get that pedicure
As I watched the kids cavort outside, I daydreamed about what I would do for the rest of the week while other parents took their turns at running the camp. Hit the nail salon? Go to lunch? Maybe even lie by the pool? (Ahhh ) No matter how I spent my newfound free time, I knew my daughter would be in good hands and having terrific fun with friends. And lucky for me, I would be saving a bundle, too.