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Believe it or not, summer will be here in just over two months! While some parents are lucky enough to be able to stay home with their kids, others need to occupy their children while they work—which for many parents means summer camp.
Summer camp is a great way for kids to enjoy the warm weather, meet other kids, and learn all kinds of new things. But, as you know, it can also be really expensive. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), the average day camp costs between $300 and $1,000. Sleepaway camps cost an average of $690 a week.
Not only can camp be expensive, but your kids may want to try something new.
Fortunately, there are other ways to keep your kids productive and entertained in the summer. Here are 7 alternatives to traditional summer camp.
- Get involved in a local volunteer program
If you plan to be home with your kids at least some of the time this summer, consider volunteering with your kids at a local organization. Kids will learn about responsibility and the importance of helping the people less fortunate than them (or environment, animals, etc.).
- Check out your local university
Many universities offer summer camps that tend to be a little less expensive than traditional day camps. For example, the University of Cincinnati has a summer camp for $200 a week.
- Creative writing camp
For kids that are interested in writing, you may be able to find a creative writing camp in your area. These workshops often last around three weeks and are run by professional writers. Kids are trained to enhance their writing skills in various genres including poetry, playwriting, fiction and non-fiction.
For Massachusetts residents interested in a writing-focused camp, look up Summer Ink. This is a day camp for students in 5th through 10th grade, located at Simmons College in Boston. They teach writing skills “through adventure, sports, and art activities.”
- STEM summer program
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a summer program called Camp Invention, which may be relatively affordable for some parents. Camp Invention partners with over 1,300 schools in all 50 states, making it likely that there is one near you. Camp Invention costs around $250 a week, depending on your location, and caters to kids K–6.
- Farm camp
Farm camps teach children about the importance of local and sustainable food. Activities often include planting, harvesting, taking care of domesticated or farm animals, cooking, carpentry, and more.
Check out Drumlin Farm Camp in Lincoln and Sudbury, Massachusetts.
- Check out Meetup.com
If you’re home with your children for a few days or weeks this summer, consider searching meetup.com for activities that you guys can do with other parents and kids. You may find a nature playgroup, or a group that meets at a different park every week, or a single parents and kids group—there is something for everyone!
- Create your own camp
Okay, yes, this would require a lot of planning. But if you’re up for it—and do it right—it could be really fun for parents and kids alike. Instead of creating a camp all on your own, ask five other parents who have kids around the same age as yours. Find out what each parent is skilled at and what each could contribute to the “camp.” Maybe one mom is artistic and could teach the kids to paint, while one family has a pool and wouldn’t mind supervising the kids for an afternoon. Then, each parent could switch off days or even weeks. You could even think of a cool name for your camp. Teamwork!
Whatever you end up doing, have a fun and productive summer!