Even with the economy on the mend, many parents still have to make budget choices.
Can’t afford summer camp? Create your own camp at home — and in your neighborhood.
Here, some ideas:
1. Team up with other parents. If you can find four other families in the same situation as yours, you can create a day camp for your kids without taking massive amounts of time off from work.
2. Visit your library — but not just for books. Public libraries have lots of free programs for a range of ages.
3. Play tourist in your hometown. Take your kids (and your neighbors’, too) on a tour of the Columbia area. Pick a different stop each week, from Congaree National Park to the State House, to state parks and community events. You may be surprised at what gems you find.
4. Find mentors for your kids. Have a teen who is interested in animals? Would your local vet be interested in a volunteer? It never hurts to ask.
5. Play to your strengths. Do you love to cook? A session on snacks kids can make for themselves will pay off for years to come. Is your husband handy? How about teaching teens how to maintain their own car? Does your neighbor love to sew? Maybe she’d be willing to lead a week-long workshop.
6. Just play. Trade off with other parents and take your kids on a tour of local playgrounds, a different one every day. Round out the outing with a picnic lunch (or even a pit stop at a pizza joint).
7. Do it by the book. Pick a book from your child’s summer reading list and bring that book report to life. Make maple candy like Laura does in “Little House in the Big Woods.” Visit the site of an “American Girl” story.
8. Experiment. Make an erupting volcano from baking soda and vinegar. See if you really can cook an egg on the sidewalk during Columbia’s famously hot summer months. Create a cactus garden. Catch bugs in a jar and observe them. The possibilities are endless; your local library can help.
9. Find a theme. Check out a book about a famous painter, and spend the day learning how to imitate the art. Do a different style each day. Plant a garden, try different types of exercise, learn a new sport.
10. Get crafty. There are plenty of great, easy-to-adapt craft ideas right here at Work It, Mom! Pick a few, stock up on craft-store supplies on sale, and let the kids’ imaginations run wild.
Compiled from workitmom.com, staff reports