Monday, July 16, 2012

Mom Camp 2012

Egg carton painting

Every year families across the United States scramble to find glorified childcare camps for their kids during the summer. The prices can really set a family back when you add up how many weeks of camp one must schedule for their children, particularly if the parent works outside of the home like I do.

Last year my friend Emma and I searched around for a few friends to do a week of Mom Camp, asking each parent to put in one day of watching kids for the other four days off. It was originally to save money, but Mom Camp forces you to think out of the box. It can get all too easy to take your kids to the park or the same old places every single week. We kept the Mom Camp structure simple: Hours were from about 9-4, each parent had to watch the kids one day that week and siblings were not included, unless you were the host parent and then you could have both of your kids at your day of camp. This rule was bent on Friday when the younger siblings had a separate camp at Emma's house (Never again. Right, Emma?). Besides sibling camp, I thought the whole thing went really well and I am eager to do it again next year.

This year the dad's got involved and proved to be as much fun as the mom's. This should not come as an surprise to any of our friends, both dad's involved this year should have 'Fun Dad' stamped on their foreheads.

Dad Camp - Monday, July 2nd

Dad Camp was fueled by strawberries and hot chocolate

My husband drove three seven-year-olds and our two-year-old daughter down to Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport for strawberry picking. For $28, the kids had a blast picking and eating berries along the coast, eventually walking away with 10 overflowing baskets of organic strawberries. After they ate their packed lunches at the farm's picnic benches, they drove to Año Nuevo State Park  and walked around the trails, ending their adventure on the beach, digging for sand crabs and running in the waves. My husband commented that this was probably the best day he's ever had with so many kids all at once. He came home happy and the kids were thrilled with the strawberries as well as the copious amounts of hot chocolate he gave to them to keep them warm (hey, this is Coastal California after all, folks!). With sand in their hair and shoes and strawberries to share with their families, these kids were happy campers.

Mom Camp - Tuesday, July 3

The Butterfly Hunters of San Francisco

My friend Emma hosted camp at her house and being the crafty one that she is, had art projects ready to go for the kids. They created plastic water bottle bumblebees and Fourth of July luminaries, hunted for caterpillars and butterflies in her backyard, baked Peanut Butter Cup Brownies in her kitchen, and went on a geo-caching treasure hunt at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. Whew! I am exhausted just reading the list of stuff they did. My son came home with his arms filled with art projects and stories that dominated our dinner hour. It was a great day of camp!

No Camp - Wednesday, July 4

Dad Camp - Thursday, July 5

Breakneck speed required on the cement slides in San Francisco
This dad took all the kids to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The kids had a blast trying out the science experiments and ate their packed lunches in the cafeteria. Afterwards, he took them to the infamous concrete Seward Street Slides. This part of the day turned out to be the highlight moment for all of the kids. After they were done with the slides, they all came back to his house to play in the backyard and drink gallons of lemonade. Perfection!

Mom Camp - Friday, July 6
Tin can stilt races
Looking for sea otters at Mori Point
I had a few things planned for the "at home" portion of the day, but as usual they took up less time than I expected. Our friends down the street joined our camp for the day and the kids painted egg cartons for the treasure hunt I had planned in Pacifica. Then they made their own popsicles with pudding and/or fruit juice with toppings to eat later on in the day. The night before camp, I made coffee can stilts for the kids to walk around on and they played on those for awhile (Best DIY Project: Old coffee cans with jump ropes from the Dollar Store for stilts. The kids loved them!). I took the kids on a hike to Pacifica's Mori Point and we brought along the egg cartons for the nature treasure hunt. I was surprised at how seriously the kids took this hunt, they were on a mission to find every color in their carton, however blue was the only color we weren't able to find. When we got to the lookout at the top of Mori Point, my son wanted to go higher and so we climbed this beast.

One child claimed this hill to be 380 stories high.

If the kids did not sleep well that night after this hike, then I did not do my job! It was quite a hike and they were exhauted when we got to the top. Afterwards, we went to the Pacifica Pier to watch the fisherman and then headed home to eat our popsicles. It was a great day for everyone. 

All in all, this was an incredibly successful Mom & Dad Camp. I would love to do it again next year and I hope our friends are up for the challenge. If you put it in dollars, the three families saved nearly $900 dollars for three kids in our camp and each day probably only cost about $20 for each parent to host. Definitely worth trying if you can find friends to do it with and have the time to put into it.


  1. How I wish I lived near you...always wanted to do this!! Looks like it was a total success.

  2. Oh, I loved doing the sibling day! It was a lot of work, but they were so cute. Thanks for this great summary! So fun to read and see and the pics.