Longer days of tons of play. Air condition and swimming pools all sizes. Lemonade and lazy days. Sunshine, adventure time, this summer thing goes on-and-on.
At first this montage is such a welcome reprieve. Everyone is excited for a break from homework, a break from the mundane routine of the constancy of school-year-life. But then it happens.... mid-summer!
Summer-break, so highly anticipated by the time May rolls around, begins to drag. The new summer toys and shoes and clothes are showing their wear. The new adventures planned and summer schedule laid out are adopting their own form of mundane monotony and, before long, everyone is secretly craving the old "new" routine of the school year to come!
But Summer-break is not over yet. If you are homeschoolers like us, running on the ebb and flow of public school friends so you don't hear, "But neighbor friend Johnny is on summer break, why can't I be on summer break so I can play with him." And, if you are like me, taking summer to breathe and lesson plan out your next school year... then you aren't ready quite yet to crack those new school books. Or, perhaps, you are a public schooling family counting down the days till school opens... either way, what do you do with these 'dog days of summer'?
It isn't too late for a new plan. Let's call it, Stay Home Summer Camp, and we are going to give our camp a name. You can call it Camp (family name) or you can plan a Crafting Camp or Adventure Camp or Family Fun Camp... the sky is the limit.
Why "camp"? Well, what is camp? Day camp or overnight camp... either way, it is a gathering of people (usually kiddos), coming together to DO stuff set out and supervised by adults. Often, but not always, on a theme. There can be crafts, culinary adventures, nature walks, sporting activities (including swimming), and so on. Now, don't over-think this, but here is my proposal:
Pick a montage of many different things or a single theme you feel capable of planning and directing your kids in (and possibly their friends who will find out and think it is awesome and want to participate too!) Think; things your kids enjoy, or have begged you to try, or you think they would like to learn to do in a hands-on sort of way. This doesn't have to be highly complicated. It can be as simple as "Soccer day; we will set up a goal between two trees in the back yard and practice.....". You don't need an hourly plan or detailed summary. Just a bulls-eye to shoot your darts at!
Once you have narrowed down one or a few ideas, make a brain-dump list of all the things you could do in that theme/montage. Remember: you are on summer-break too. This isn't meant to be a HUGE amount of "work" for you, rather, it is intended to be directed fun... honest, that IS a thing!!
As you are brain-dumping, think about frequency. Do you want to have your club daily, every-other-day, once-a-week.... be realistic. Also, set the time of day and length you expect to spend in "camp" adventures. If your kiddos are anything like mine were, you could easily be their playmate/play director from morning till night and they would love you all the more for it!! However, "camp" is meant to get their creative juices flowing. Whatever time you set out to spend with them each day in "camp" pursuits, it is OK to say, "I will be done at 2:00 but you can keep on doing...." whatever it is they are doing. Unless, of course, the activity is one which requires parental supervision like baking and certain crafts. Still, it is OK to set an "end" to the activity with the promise that on such-and-such day "we will do some more"!
Pump it up
As with the whole "adventure" theme I've been writing on this summer... GET EXCITED!! You can do this one of two ways.
- You can create "mystery" for your kids by alluding to the fact something cool is going to happen on 'Monday'. Then, on 'Monday', reveal your Camp.
- You can just tell them (with excitement of course), "How would you guys like to do a Stay-Home-Summer-Camp" and share with them the essence of the thing, telling them what days and times you will be holding "camp", count it down, and generally BE EXCITED with them!
You can also involve them in some of the planning. As my kiddos were growing up, most summers were host to various Stay Home Summer Camps. I would usually call a family meeting (minus dad because he would be at work- but you could add dad if you think he would enjoy participating!) and survey them on what they would like to do. I would usually mention some base-line ideas I had and any theme I was considering. Then I would collect their ideas on activities. Some years I would leave the bulk of the planning and themes up to them, acting as scribe and coordinator to help coral their creative flow and get realistic plans set.
One year we weren't able to finish our science curriculum by the time we wanted to wrap up for a summer break so, after a "class" meeting we decided to have a "Summer of Science" (blogged here!) No book work (one stipulation which got them fully on board!), just exploration and experiments. Neighborhood kids saw what we were doing and often joined in! We all had a blast.
Play it out
It's go-time. I can't stress it enough: DON'T STRESS, don't over-plan, just relax and enjoy!!! Keep it simple, don't expect perfection, keep a child's heart within yourself about the whole thing and have fun with them. Stay Home Summer Camping adventures can include field trips, library trips, story times, pool days, beach days and so on. You can even pack journals and invite your kids to draw pictures, jot observations, and even create a scrapbook complete with taped-on tickets, feathers, pictures and so on.
Don't spoil it with schoolish stuff though (unless that is what they ask for!!). When I say, Invite them, I do mean just that. Don't force them, rather, let them know they have a choice. But, also, let them know that the days and times you have set are the only days and times you will be doing these activities together. So, essentially: 'you snooze - you loose'.
I can tell you honestly, with the exception of some of my teens (when they were teens), not a single one of my kids ever passed up an opportunity for Stay Home Summer Camp. They all looked forward to the adventures and activities each "camp" day would hold!
Overwhelmed? Don't be. I have designed a FREE worksheet to help get the creative juices flowing as you jot your ideas.
link in text to print your copy. Also, I hope to share some more detailed ideas of Stay Home Summer Camps in coming articles. If you have ANY questions, please don't hesitate to let me know!
Do you have summer activities or themes you plan with your family each year? I would love to hear about it! For now, I pray all your summer memories this year are genuine and lasting!
By the way.....
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