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Creating a Summer Camp Schedule and Atmosphere at Home

Kids walking in the woods,Grace for the Moment for kids by Max Lucado

Summer is well underway and parents everywhere are hearing two dreaded words: I’m bored! The experts say that it’s good for kids to be bored; in boredom, they become creative and find their own things to do. That may work for the experts, but in my house, boredom leads to two things – sibling squabbles and too much TV-watching.

At the same time, no mother has the time or energy to be a camp counselor.

How can we create a busy and interesting summer camp schedule at home without driving ourselves crazy? Here are 7 suggestions that will make the rest of your kids’ summer a little more like being at camp.

Home Summer Camp Schedule Tips

  1. Change your expectations. The suggestions below take time and energy. You’re not going to accomplish all the things you would normally accomplish. Embrace the time with your kids and the memories you’re making together, and be prepared to let some other things slide.
  2. Say yes. I’m a yes mom. When my kids make a request, I consider whether I have a real reason to say no (safety, logistics, or finances, for example). If there’s no real reason, I try to say yes. I can spare a little extra work and inconvenience for the sake of my kids. A fort in the living room? Yes. Make ice cream the old fashioned way? Yes. Can we put socks on and ice skate in the kitchen? Yes, if you help me to put the groceries away first.
  3. Create a schedule. Think about how summer camps work. They plan out every minute of every day. You don’t have to go crazy with it, but try to create a schedule of activities and post it where your kids can see it. Include breakfast, family devotional time (I like Grace for the Moment), time to play on their own (or in their rooms), time to read, family activities, morning and afternoon snack time, chore time, quiet time, and time to play outside. Add in other things based on the day of the week: crafts on Tuesday, cooking together on Wednesday, field trips on Monday and Thursday, or whatever will work for you and your kids.
  4. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your schedule. Monotony breeds boredom. Be flexible when unplanned opportunities come up. Skip your morning schedule in favor of a playdate. Skip the afternoon and see a $1 movie at the local theater. Create a restaurant in your kitchen, prepare a talent show for your husband or neighbors, go to the grocery store to soak in their air conditioning. (I have to admit that I’d rather bear the heat than take my kids to the grocery store.)
  5. Go on field trips. Summer camps take the kids out at least once a week. Find a swimming pool or creek where you can splash around. Go to museums and theaters, and take classes at the library or craft stores. Go on walks and to playgrounds. Getting out of the house will make a big difference in your sanity, I promise.
  6. Plan theme days or weeks. Preschools and summer camps usually have themes. This could be a lot of work, but it really doesn’t have to be elaborate. Maybe the week you go to the aquarium, you eat fish sticks, read books about the ocean, and do a fish bowl craft. Search on Pinterest (a gold mine!) for crafts and activities related to your theme. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in or overwhelmed by Pinterest. Just get on, search for what you need, and when you find a couple of things, get off.
  7. Pack lunches and eat al fresco. At camp, kids eat packed lunches outside, at picnic tables or on the ground. Sometimes we eat lunch on the picnic table on our back porch. Sometimes, I put our lunches on a tray and carry them out to the backyard where we eat on a blanket. Sometimes, I put our lunches into lunch bags, and we eat them at the state park or a playground.

Your Turn

Have you ever tried making a summer camp schedule at your house? How do you create a summer camp atmosphere at home with your family? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!