In these difficult economic times, how can we assure that our children have a fun, safe, and affordable summer experience? My friends and I have decided that since we all get a minimum of three weeks off every year from work, we are each contributing one of our vacation weeks to being the organizer and summer camp director for our children for that week. We began the discussion and planning of this summer program for our children when our local park district camp program brochure arrived and we saw how expensive it is to have a child participate. Even more costly is the after-care part of camp which is essential for those of us who work late. I hope this inspires you to think about how to create an affordable, safe and well-supervised fun summer for your children!
First we met, just the moms and dads, and mapped out which week is which adult’s responsibility. Then, we decided on an amount of money we would contribute per child for each week. Not having to pay for after-care, music lessons, sports’ team participation fees, and school fees during the summer gives us all a bit of money to contribute to the camp for our children. Luckily, the older children are either going to programs and sleep away, have summer jobs, and/or agree to work at the younger children’s camp for the summer. So, in addition to having an adult in charge that has taken a week of vacation off from work, we will have from five to six “older” children helping out. Because there are 15 children who require summer fun and supervision, we cannot use anyone’s car. So, creative, in-the-neighborhood activities are necessary. Perhaps for the week of 4th of July, we will plan a field trip with all the families involved using their respective cars and going somewhere not in walking distance.
The ten weeks of summer vacation from school are now covered as far as supervision. Certain parents have already committed to activities such as carpentry projects, nature walks, scavenger hunts, backyard tent sleep-overs, themed movie days for rainy moments, and neighborhood swimming pool supervision. Everyone has agreed to pack his/her own participating child/ren snacks, lunch, and beverages for the day. The pooled money will be budgeted for each weeks’ movie rentals, materials for craft and art projects, and the money we will pay to our older, supervising children.
Suggestions such as having each older child in-charge of two younger children so they can bond and have a special relationship from this experience, and using some of the money for cooking classes for those adults who would like to teach cooking are some of the exciting summer fun and activities planned so far.
Our four participating attorneys-parents are drawing up a contract to protect our neighborhood alternative camp program from any litigation. Unfortunately in these litigious times, we all feel more comfortable with a legal document of protection in place. We’ll keep you posted on how successful our experiment for summer fun for the kids is!