Summer camps have been a mainstay for so many working parents. Like everything else, due to Covid, we have to look at summer childcare differently. Summer camps have existed since the 1800s and have become a reliable source of childcare for parents and children. The Coronavirus has changed the way we need to go to work, school, childcare, and summer camps. We have to change the way we think of taking care of our necessities including childcare for the summer months and going forward.
Another summer is fast approaching with Coronavirus still looming, less scary then last year due to vaccines but still a consideration when choosing summer child care, We have to ask ourselves what is necessary and what is something we simply miss and really want. Back in the 1800 summer camps for children were developed and it was a great resource for children to get away from their family, develop their social skills, and learn a love for outdoors. Back in the 1800s summer camps weren’t really necessary but NOW they are due to both parents working (and from home), children being out of school, and needing some supervision of children while parents continue working. Children are beings that need to be outdoors, need social interactions of all types, and need to be active. Back-in-the-day parents were able to just let them play, do chores on the farm and children’s lives were full of unstructured play and activity. I remember playing soccer with my friends in the street, hide-and-go-seek in the whole neighborhood, playing in barns and climbing trees. If you feel like you are in prison you should think how your children may be feeling because they are even more geared toward social activity and just being active.
Maybe it is time to think differently. What if we give our kids more free time like in the good old days? What if we allow your children’s friends in our homes that we know are safe to play by checking temperatures and having them wear masks? What if we trust our children to create a space for themselves that is safe and fun for themselves? You never know what they may come up with given the freedom to create activities for themselves with great guidelines and boundaries set by parents.
Possible ideas for summer activities for children age 6+ instead of camps:
- Make an activity box. Create an activity box with strips of paper and a list of fun stuff that the kids would like to do with their friends or each other for the summer (make sure they come up with the list not you).
- Have them play outside in the backyard for a long period of time (like they are at camp) pack a picnic including water bottles for them to eat and drink while they are outside playing, and then out the door they go (I promise they won’t die; I didn’t, and use common sense a 3 year old can’t do that). When I was a kid my mom wouldn’t let us come in and to be honest we didn’t want to.
- Create a backyard splash park. Invest in water balloons, water guns, sprinklers etc. and let the kids loose in the backyard.
- Think about bringing in a childcare professional that you trust that has a mask, and will keep surfaces wiped down for the kids. You should also make sure if you do bring someone in that they adhere to the CDC guidelines and the family rules concerning the Coronavirus, AND that they have some kind of specialty that they can share with the kids.
- A summer nanny share is a consideration that can cut costs, giving some relief to parents and kids. Limiting the number of children in one place is essential if you do this during the Coronavirus suggesting only 10 people in one place at a time is the guideline.