Summer camps are affordable here FOR ONE KID. But tutition for three would put me in the poor house! Did I want my three bigs rattling around the house bugging each other and begging me to schedule play dates? When did moms become the captains of kid's social calendars? Go find your own friends, kid.
I needed a plan. I needed a Sandlot.
Thus Neighborhood Camps were born.
My years of Devil Mountain Summer Camp under the tutelage of Nancy and Colleen gave me all the training I need to organize and entertain big groups of children. Matter of fact, my life more closely resembles DMSC than any college experience. Life and survival skills currently employed were gleaned from working summer camps and from my other fun job choreographing my mother's plays with Danville Children's Musical Theater. I'm an expert at playing.
The plan is to have 5 or 6 weeks of organized play for 5-10 year olds during the summer. Camps are TWTh so that they don't impede weekend travel. We start at 10am when it's still cool and end at 1. As a mom I do not feel activities for kids are worth it unless I get three hours away from them. You can actually get stuff done in that amount of time and by stuff I mean a legit nap. With that schedule and plan I made a Google sign up form and sent it to my friends.
I've hired a nanny to take care of my babies during camps. She's the adult at home while we are at the school playing.
Our weeks planned are Baseball and Nerf week, Soccer and Bike week, Craft and Lego/Barbie week, Sport Camp with my teacher sister Val whom I'm flying in from LA and street games, and Gymnastic and football week. Lunch is also included, accomplished co-op style. I request a $5 per kid per week donation, but I think next year I'm going to structure that by family instead. Maybe $20 and $5 for each additional kid. That way it's not prohibitive for big families.
I asked local young teens who are good at that sport to come coach and give them the donations to sweeten the deal.
When the kids get there at 10 they just wander into my back yard. We gather, talk about the rules (don't get hurt, use the downstairs bathroom, let me know where you are) make sure everybody has the gear they need and then head across the street to the school.
At the school the teens lead them in playing the sports. It's a ton of fun. It's like the Sandlot.
At 11:45 I send two kids up to my house and our dear nanny helps them make the lunches with the food that's been provided by the parents in bulk. Week one was corndog week, this week we're making PB&J with the two big loaves of bread and vats of peanut butter and jelly sent by a parent. Other parents provide fruit and treats.Noon is lunch in my backyard. No plates, no waste. Then we hydrate with water bottles and sprinklers.
After lunch last week I organized a Nerf gun shooting range from my porch. Kids volunteered to be turkeys. It was pretty hilarious. We also played capture the flag.
This week we went to the empty school parking lot on our bikes. Using sidewalk chalk the kids chose a parking stall and designed their home. Then they chose another stall and made their business. We had a police station, a bakery, a crystal shop (not crystal meth), a mechanic, fire station, etc. They drew roads and played to their heart's content.
I planned for 10-15 kids, this week we have about 25. The more the merrier!
I am so grateful to live in a supportive neighborhood with so many kids and great parents so I can do this with my kids. I live in fear that somebody will get hurt and I will get sued, but we will solve that problem with waivers pretty soon. We are having a rad time!