Friday, July 8, 2011

Mom Camp

We just finished the final day of Mom Camp 2011 and it was a roaring success. This all started when my friend and I were complaining about the cost of summer camps and we hatched a plan to host our own Mom Camp week. Each mom took all of the kids for one day and earned herself four days off in return and let me tell you, it saved us all a boatload of money. One week of Zoo Camp in San Francisco is $350 per week from 9-4 pm each day! Mom Camp cost me $30 for park and museum fees - for an entire week of camp. Color me satisfied.

It was harder than we realized to find parents that would want to do this kind of camp, it does take a certain kind of person. One friend with two children of her own told me rather bluntly, "I really don't want to watch other people's kids for long periods of time." Fair enough. A few other friends had vacations planned during the time slots we had selected, but in the end we found two other amazing moms to do this camp with and here is how we did it.

The rules were fairly simple, hours were 9-3 pm each day, no siblings could come to Mom Camp but the host mother could have both of her own kids present at camp when she was hosting and the kids all wore the same shirt (red) so we could easily find them in a crowd. I also suggested that everyone bring their own lunch to Mom Camp each day so picky eaters could get what they wanted (or didn't want), but the other three mothers just made lunch for everyone and it went off without a hitch. However I did ask that parents pack a lunch for their kids on my day because we were going to do a lot of walking and didn't want to have to lug it around. Not fun. Here is how the week turned out.

Monday, July 4th - No Mom Camp

Tuesday, July 5th - Strawberry picking in Half Moon Bay. This mom took four six year olds and her 2 year old to Swanton Berry Farms where they picked strawberries, hiked around a reservoir and enjoyed a picnic lunch. The strawberries were surprisingly affordable about $20 total for all of the kids combined. (This was another unsaid rule - the host parent pays for fees, etc.) It was so successful that she got home with barely 30 minutes to spare before camp was over.

Wednesday, July 6th  - Hiking around San Francisco. This mom hosted the camp at her house and took the kids on a lengthy nature hike around Mt. Davidson, took the kids to a local park, served lunch at her house and then let the kids play in the house and backyard.

Thursday, July 7th - Craft Camp. This mom is incredibly crafty and she had a number of projects lined up for the kids to work on throughout the day. She had them the painting with apples on a canvas backpack, making their own bird feeders with half gallon milk jugs and planted their own take home corn seedlings. They took an uphill hike to a park, ate lunch outside and picked berries in the yard.

Friday, July 8th - Coyote Point Camp. I drove the kids down to Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo for the day. We ate a snack at the picnic tables, walked around the museum for an hour, ate our lunches while watching the zookeepers feed the otters. Then we took a long walk down to the peninsula and looked for sharks in the bay, watched airplanes coming in for a landing at San Francisco International Airport, had another snack break before heading over to Magic Mountain Park for some playtime. Then it was back to my house for popsicles and lemonade. 

Every single day was a great adventure for the kids and while I am beyond exhausted, I am giddy with excitement at how well this went. I am hoping we can make a yearbook to document what a success this was for the moms and the kids. My son came home everyday with stories or projects and best of all, the cost was minimal. Next year I want the fathers to get involved, maybe they could host a Dad Camp in the beginning of the summer and the Mom Camp at the end of the summer. It'd be so great to eek two weeks of essentially free camp out of the summer!

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