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summer camp on the cheap

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caregiver9000 posted 5/1/2014 20:48 PM

Reading a post here reminded me of the days right after dday. I wasn't working. There was no support order. I had no energy or desire to have kids at home all day every day whining about being bored....

Things I did that summer:

1. I called a local bowling alley. I explained the situation, said I was looking for really cheap/free ideas. The owner of the bowling alley gave me the same deal as she gave daycares. I had to agree to come on a day and time they were slow. We got free shoe rental and $1 games. We bowled 2 games every Wednesday.

2. The theater had free movies at 10am. The movies were last years hits, but it was a theater movie. Check your local theaters.

3. Creek day. My kids would spend hours in the creek. In the rain, or the sun. Building dams, catching fish, getting muddy and wet.

4. I put the word out and accepted every guest invite to a pool.

5. Look for the Bible School camps. These are usually free and often come with a meal. Now there are day and evening camps.

6. The larger churches will do day camps, a week long and usually very very affordable. If affordable is too much, contact the church. Scholarships are usually available.

Anyone else have other ideas to share??

ArkLaMiss posted 5/1/2014 20:54 PM

The local library has summer reading programs. Also, check for art camps at the city/town you live in. Also, check at your extension office for things like camp or activities. Local art guilds have summer classes, too. Oh, and music camps.

Kajem posted 5/1/2014 21:06 PM

Ask for scholarships, payment plans.

My kids have participated in some exclusive camps because I was willing to ask, fill out forms, write letters and share my financial information. The camps found sponsors so my kids could enjoy their programs.

I took pics of happy kids and sent thank you letters after the camp. We were usually invited to return the following year.

YMCA, parks and rec, UF band camp, Duke University girls soccer camp, Youth Soccer programs ALL have scholarship money available. 4H and Girl Scouts are also good about discounting fees.

MissMouseMo posted 5/1/2014 21:29 PM

How about the city parks department? I know the last two cities I've lived in had free concerts with great entertainment.

Is there a public beach or lake nearby?

The zoo?

What about scouts and those types of orgs? Again, if "a little" is too much, do their sponsoring groups have scholarships?

Kite flying - homemade kites are cheeeeeap! We used newsprint when I was a kid, and a torn sheet for a tail.

Dress-up (don't know how old the kids are).

A "tea" with neighborhood friends - kool-aid and vanilla wafers? (again, age?)

It sounds "quaint" (and the kids might balk but it would be good for their little eternal souls): but nursing homes might welcome young kids distributing cheerful cards they've made?

Along that same line, do you have an older neighbor who might welcome some help walking a dog - maybe once a week so it fills time? I'm just thinking that service-oriented things might be good - so show that no matter how difficult things are, we can rise to the occasion and offer help to people in need.

Organize a rummage "sale" - trading out clothes for next school year with other parents?

Plant a garden? One or tow packets of seeds goes a long way (dollar store = 4/$1 now), and the responsibility of caring for the plant makes them proud - and it requires repeated attention that's free.

Just trying to think....

(eta: I really did look for the ages - but only in re-reading did I see them. Oops. Oh well, maybe the young stuff will spark something for someone with littles)

[This message edited by MissMouseMo at 11:13 PM, May 1st (Thursday)]

Furious1 posted 5/1/2014 21:57 PM

Usually, universities have free or low cost community programs during the summer. Some schools do too. I've seen free pee-wee cheerleader day camps, fitness classes, etc. Most cost programs have scholarships.

If you have a national or state park nearby, they schedule free hiking tours, schedule a clean up day with an appreciation meal afterwards for participants along with door prizes. Some sponsor free fishing days for kids. They usually have a book which lists all events in the state for the year.

A lot of towns in my state have yearly festivals that are free to go to with free events for the kids. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Check the newspaper under Community Events.

Some towns have a Boys and Girls club which offers gymnastics, dance classes, swimming lessons, and sports of all kinds. Usually these are free due to private and corporate donations, but sometimes there is a low income application that you can usually fill out.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations are usually very good as well for helping with summer boredom.

knightsbff posted 5/1/2014 22:07 PM

Some churches have away over night camps for the older kids. I'm the Camp Specialist for the young women in my church and we just finished doing a successful fundraising campaign so none of the girls (12-18) will have to pay the $50 camp fee this year. But in previous years no has been turned away for inability to pay.

We will go 4 nights and 5 days to do all kinds of fun stuff!

nestlee posted 5/1/2014 22:16 PM

Here in Canada, During summer they have the green shacks..located at most school parks..Where kids can go Monday to Thursday 9 to 5, Friday 1to 5:30. Ages 6 to 12. There's Two , to 3 staff members at every green shack..They play games, make crafts, water fights and other activities..And It's free.

woundedby2 posted 5/2/2014 00:27 AM

Check for free admission days at your local museums.

I think Target and BofA both sponsor free museum admission days.

Lots of communities offer free movies and concerts during the summer at local parks or community centers.

Our County Fair usually offers a couple of days where they offer free admission if you bring in a couple of used books or cans of food. Yours might too. Pack drinks and snacks and avoid the rides and games, and you can enjoy the exhibits and animals on the cheap.

Kajem posted 5/2/2014 00:40 AM

Humane society loves kids to exercise the animals, although if they are under a certain age a parent needs to also volunteer. I did that with my puppy crazed dd weekly till she became a horse crazed dd. It was fun! Stinky but fun!

ddame23 posted 5/2/2014 05:12 AM

Many libraries have passes you can check out for a period of time for to state parks or water parks and other activities.

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