First 5 LA Five Minutes: DIY Summer Camp


If you are having trouble finding an inexpensive, fun summer activity for your kids, creating your own neighborhood camp might be perfect. With parents as counselors, it is a great way to have a memorable summer experience for both parents and children. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Gather a group. Consider the ages, needs and interests of the children and parents. An advantage of creating your own camp is that children can be with friends, parents each have input, and the group can as large or as small as you like. Five to seven children can work well, with parents rotating as head and assistant counselors based on their schedules and availability.
  • Decide on a schedule. Typically, scheduling works best if each parent can take a full week or can agree to be head counselor two or three days at a time. Discuss start and end times, pick-up policies and whether kids will have a rest period. A good rule of thumb is that a camp day should be no longer than five to six hours.
  • Bring your own lunch. Campers should bring their own lunch and something to drink, but each counselor/parent can also offer to supply healthy snacks and water when it is their turn.
  • Get emergency information. Make sure you have each camper’s emergency information, parents’ phone numbers and insurance information. Double-check for any allergies, dietary restrictions or medications they need to take. Always have a complete first-aid kit on hand. Have each child bring their own sunscreen, hats other protective clothing (or change of clothes depending upon activities).
  • Brainstorm fun activities. Each parent can choose activities to do on their day or week, such as music, sports, art, story time, field trips and more. Arts and crafts like chalk and coloring, sensory play or finger paints are always a nice option. Visits to the park or local libraries for story time or events are fun and free too. Water balloons, games and obstacle courses get kids moving outside — tailor your camp to the specific interests of the kids. And have fun!
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