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Creating Camps at Home

With do-it-yourself spirit, parents can organize mini neighborhood-based camps for their kids

Creating a mini-camp for your own kids is a great way to have a summer experience tailored to their interests, along with your budget. Yet organizing a camp shouldn't be taken lightly, or your small-scale camp might soon dissolve into a babysitting job. Here are some ideas for mini-camps that you can have at home for your child:

Preschoolers

  • Little explorers. Purchase plastic magnifiers, plastic baggies and notebooks for preschoolers to bring to a local park. Lead the children on a nature walk and have them examine what they see, collect samples and color drawings in their notebooks.
  • Artists in training. Focus on a different art medium each week of camp. For instance, let the kids do finger paints one week, colored pencils another and sculpt with Play-Doh the week after. Finish each session by reading a picture book about famous artists.
  • Intro to sport skills. Teach basic hand-eye coordination skills. Each week you could focus on a different skill required for a different sport – throwing a ball, catching a ball, kicking the ball.

Elementary-aged kids

  • Moviegoer madness. Many local theaters offer free or reduced-priced movies during the summer. Take elementary-aged kids to a movie and meet for snacks and to discuss the movie afterward.
  • Dance days. Invite the children to learn to dance by checking out how-to DVDs at the library. Crank up the classical music and allow them to freeform dance at the end of each camp session.
  • Sport skills. Teach specific skills necessary for success in a certain sport. Run dribbling drills for soccer enthusiasts or practice shooting baskets with your Pistons wannabes.

Middle schoolers

  • Budding scientists. Visit each of the three area science museums – the Detroit Science Center, Cranbrook Institute of Science and Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum. Check out books from your local library on experiments that you can do at home.
  • Cooking skills. Teach children to read and create basic foods like muffins, cookies and pizza. You might want each mom to take a turn each week and teach how to cook a particular family favorite.
  • Theater training. Help the kids write, design and create their own play. Or pick a favorite picture book and have the children create their own costumes, learn the lines and perform the show for their parents.

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