Give kids a DIY summer camp at home

Many families may still be
tightening their belts this summer as the economy continues its slow climb out
of recession. If your family has decided to save money by forgoing traditional
summer camps, you can still give your kids a fun summer – by staging a
do-it-yourself summer camp at home.

Your DIY summer camp can combine
classic camp activities and home-based fun to ensure kids stay busy and happy
all season long. Whether you’re teaching them about the world by getting them
involved in preparing a week’s worth of international cuisine, or drawing them
into your latest kids’ playroom project, you’ll save money by keeping them at
home. Here are some tips and activity ideas to help you stage a DIY summer
camp:

Get organised

Imagine the level of organisation
and advanced planning required to run an operation that serves up safe,
creative fun to hundreds of children each year. Now imagine how much easier
your job as DIY summer camp counsellor will be if you have a game plan of
activities that are both fun and educational to carry your kids through the
summer.

Start by calculating exactly how
many hours each day, and how many days each month, you need to fill. Older kids
may benefit from a few hours of self-guided play each day, while younger
children will need more of your help to keep their days full. Next, gather a
list of all the activities you want to do this summer, grab a calendar or day
planner, and start planning when you will do each activity.

Pick your projects

Kids love traditional summer camps
because they occupy youngsters nonstop with fun activities and the company of
other children. Parents love that kids keep busy with activities that are both
fun and educational. You can give kids the same experience by finding at-home
projects that mix fun and education with practicality and usefulness.

One great way to keep kids active,
teach them valuable skills and get something done around the house is to
involve them in your list of DIY projects. Obvious chores, like mowing the
lawn, likely won’t make the kids’ list of fun activities, but helping you plant
an herb garden might. Or, let them take an active role in redecorating their
own rooms. Help them choose paint, bedding and accessories or to install an
easy-to-hang wallpaper mural. You can find many different of kid-friendly wall
murals in local home furnishing stores. Decorating their own rooms will teach
kids important home improvement and decorating skills – and could potentially
keep them occupied for days.

Other life skill-building activities

Encourage kids to research new
cuisines and their countries of origin, then plan and present a week of
dinners, with each meal hailing from a different country. Kids will learn
cooking skills, interesting information about other cultures, and the basics of
grocery shopping on a budget.

Help them plant and nurture a
vegetable garden.

Do some volunteer work. Even the
youngest tot can learn to help others. Whether it’s visiting a senior citizens
centre and playing games with the residents, or helping serve at a food
kitchen, volunteer work teaches children the importance of – and the
satisfaction provided by – helping others.

Sending kids away to summer camp
might not be financially feasible for many families – at least for another
year. But keeping them at home doesn’t mean they – or you – have to give up the
benefits of a camp-like experience. With a little creativity and plenty of
planning, you can recreate the best benefits of summer camp in your very own
home.