Summer camp isn’t cheap. Parents can end up spending thousands of dollars keeping their children busy while school is out.
However, some families find a financial break from organizing their own summer camp cooperatives.
In a cooperative, a group of parents takes care of childcare for their children in summer. As Care.com puts itIn general, parents take turns watching each other’s children and monitoring activities similar to what children may experience in traditional summer camps.
This informal arrangement ensures summer fun without the summer camp prices.
Families can customize their cooperative to suit what works best for them. Some groups only need a week or two of camp, while others need camp to last all summer. Some parents limit collaboration to close friends or family members, while others are open to making arrangements with neighbors or co-workers they only know casually.
There is no single plan for starting a summer camp cooperative. This is how a group of parents managed to make it work for them.
Take the summer camp into your own hands
A few years ago, a group of friends and neighbors in Rockland County, New York decided to start their own summer camp cooperative.
“We went to see the summer – 12 or 13 weeks without school – and the cost of the camp was prohibitive for most of us for that time,” said Vicki Larson, one of the parents who organized the camp.
Her daughter was 5 years old in the first year of the cooperative, which lasted three summers.
Larson said the original idea was to get about a dozen families to participate and move houses every week. The host parents took a week off to run the camp. But that wasn’t ideal for everyone, and instead they hired their own camp counselors: parents, college students, and college students Teacher on summer break.
Larson said the parents took turns hosting the camp in their homes, and the children also spent time in neighborhood parks and other local locations. As in a traditional summer camp, the children spent time doing handicrafts, playing outside and exploring nature.
“They went to the pool every day for a week,” said Adam Gorlovitzki, another parent. “They would go hiking for a week.”
Each family paid about $ 225 a week to cover the cost of camp counselors, food, and supplies – about half the cost of traditional summer camps in the area.
4 tips for setting up a summer camp co-op
With a little planning, you can create a similar summer camp collaboration that suits your family’s needs and wants. Here are four things you need to know.
1. Decide who will be part of your summer camp co-op
The group in Rockland County, New York, consisted mostly of children attending the same school, although some were friends who only lived in the same area. They ranged from preschoolers to early elementary school students.
Gorlovitzki said it was great for the kids because they already had friends in the camp, and good for the parents because they could choose the teachers and weigh the camp’s activities.
When starting your own summer camp cooperative, consider your child’s friends and classmates. Keeping it down to a tight age group makes it easy to plan age-appropriate activities. Choosing families who live in the same neighborhood or nearby makes drop-off and pick-up a breeze.
2. Select a location (or locations).
Larson recommended that you think a lot about where the camp will take place. The places should be kid-friendly, the hosts need to be comfortable opening their houses, and there needs to be enough space to accommodate all the children, she said.
“Children need a variety of activities during the day, so you want to make sure the space is suitable [that],” She said.
“It makes sense not to commit to one place when someone is home because you are really taking their place,” added Leslie Laboriel, another camp organizer. “It’s nice to be able to move [the camp] to give a little [host parents] the opportunity to have their homes back. “
3. Find out what you want to do
One of the advantages of a summer camp cooperative is that parents can have a say in how their children will spend their days. Aside from reaching consensus among other parents, the sky is the limit of your choice.
Larson suggested that parents find out who is familiar with the administrative tasks, organizing the spreadsheets, and figuring out the rates.
In planning meetings, the organizers should think about how they want to structure the camp, what Types of activities They want the kids to do whoever communicates with all parents and how they want to handle finances without making it a hassle, Laboriel recommended.
4. Have the parents sign a waiver
Larson said it was important to get all parents in the group to sign documents releasing the host family and teachers from liability in the event of an incident.
“Be sure to have the parents sign a waiver, ”she said. “It’s not in disguise, but it gives you a little peace of mind that if something happens, you won’t be sued.”
Also, make sure the adults running the co-op or acting as camp counselors are aware of any allergies or illnesses the children are having. Parents should also all be on the same page to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Summer camp is all about fun, but you want everyone to be safe and healthy.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com