Creating a Co-op Camp with Neighbors
Is your budding explorer excited for a dinosaur dig? Do you have a young artist craving some paint time? If sending your child to camp this summer feels like a financial fairytale? Consider this option—Create your own day camp by pooling the resources of your neighborhood. Chances are you’re not the only family wondering what to do all summer. Setting up a co-op is an economical and fun way to involve neighborhood families and to share the work of holding camp. If you’re lucky, you may live in a neighborhood where weekly summer camp is a long-standing tradition. If not, here are a few tips to get you started.
Get the word out
Talk to people at your school, on your morning walk, at the park--Before you know it, you’ll have a posse of kids and their parents yee-hawing about a summertime roundup.
Host a kick-off meeting (a.k.a. Group play date at the park)
Before you start to feel overwhelmed, set a time to meet as parents and to discuss the ground rules. Topics you may want to cover are:
- Creating age groups
- Picking a day and time
- Setting the rules/expectations
- Making your schedule
- Brainstorming themes
- Getting commitments and contact info
Co-op means cooperation. Just because you call the meeting doesn’t mean you need to do all the work. Divide and conquer. Here are sample ground rules --but remember to be flexible as you may find different ideas work for you and your group.
Hold “camp” once a week for 90 minutes. Have three age groups (3-4 yr olds, 5-7 yr olds and 8-10 yr olds). Assign each parent one turn to “host” and one turn to “help” on the schedule. “Camp” does not mean taking the kids to an expensive water park or putt-putt course. Rather, camp can include a learning topic, a game or story, a craft project, a snack and free play. Use what you have on hand to create an excavation site, a fairy land, a bug brigade or a shiver of sharks. Play “Kick the Can,” “Hide ‘N Seek,” or “Duck, Duck, Goose.” A pair of toilet-paper tube binoculars will never be so treasured!
Celebrate the accomplishments
Bring the entire group together for a finale. Meet at your local park for group games, crafts and snacks, show and tell, and an awards ceremony. With just a little organization, you can keep your kids entertained and earn some free time for yourself during the summer months ahead!