Mom Camp

Each summer, I try to fill a few weeks with camps so my kids can have fun doing things they love, while also having a chance to explore new interests that they might not be able to do during the school year. Over the past few weeks of blog posts, I have listed camp after camp on sports, arts, STEM, preschool & special needs, and history & languages. (Click here to see the Sports camps listing that has links to all the camps.) While my kids definitely enjoy these types of camps, and are kept happy and active, they can also be quite expensive, and some are hit or miss with my kids' interests. In reality, they just want to spend time with friends doing something fun. (And I just want them off the couch and being active.) I was chatting with a fellow mom friend about camps in late spring last year, and we started bouncing a few ideas around. What if we set up our own "Mom Camp" (basically successive playdates at each other's houses) for our girls? She has three older children, and had tried to plan a type of "Mom Camp" with their friends when they were younger, but nothing ever worked out. "Let's do it!" we quickly decided! After 15 years of trying to make it happen with her older kids, she was excited that it was actually going to work out!

First off, we had to find a week our girls were both free--a week in late July. Next, we enlisted two other creative moms to join in with their girls. Four girls was the perfect number for our camp--more kids than just a playdate, but not enough to overwhelm the host mom or the kids (since they would be spending so much of the week together). It was a great group of creative girls who got along well and were all up for fun!

Next, we set the parameters of Mom Camp. Each mom would host all four girls at her house for one day that week from 9:30am-2pm. Friday would have one mom host in the morning, and another take them all to the pool for the afternoon. The host mom would provide lunch and creative, low-cost activities for the girls, in addition to some free-play time. We each chose our day, and set to planning. The moms were all so creative, thoughtful, and talented, and we all loved sharing our interests with the girls.  The girls got to experience such an amazing variety of activities!

Here's how the week went:

MONDAY: Christina's family is originally from Utah. As it turns out, that day was Pioneer Day in Utah. For this holiday (which was brand new to me!), families eat special foods and do pioneer-related activities. Christina wanted to recreate Pioneer Day for our New Jersey girls! They had a blast making cornbread in a Dutch oven, churning fresh butter, making rag dolls, making tin can stompers, dressing in pioneer aprons and bonnets, and playing pioneer games. I love the black-and-white photo Christina took of the girls looking like solemn bare-footed pioneers! Becca came home bubbling with excitement about all they did!

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TUESDAY: Katriona planned some wonderfully creative crafts, including bracelets and necklaces made from melted straws. They then made delicious raspberry and white chocolate chip tarts (that Becca insisted were the most delicious things she has ever had, though I wouldn't know since she ate them all and didn't share her extra ones with me!). Katriona's basement is a wonderful mix of ninja gym (with gymnastic mats and monkey bar rings) and cool hang-out (hammocks hanging from the ceiling), so the girls had a great time down there, too.

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WEDNESDAY: Mary's family is very musical and theatrical, so for part of the day, the girls learned a musical theater dance to an Evan Hansen song (that Becca still does now, 8 months later, whenever she hears the song!). They also were set free with a giant box and art supplies to do whatever they wanted. The girls created an amazing Mom Camp fort with windows and snack holders. They spent time playing badminton in the backyard, and making giant Fruity Pebble marshmallow Krispie treats.

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THURSDAY: Becca was so excited to help me plan their day at our house. We reached back in our memories for crafts and foods we loved, and gathered all the supplies. The girls started off by creating a jewelry holder. Before the girls came, I sawed in half and sanded some wooden bed slats left over from my son's old bed. Each girl painted a slat, then while the paint dried, they cut out words from old magazines, which they later decoupaged on the board. Once that dried, we screwed 7 cup hooks along the bottom (to hang necklaces) and eye hooks at the top, threaded ribbon through the eye hooks, and, voila, they have a pretty necklace holder! For lunch, the girls made their own selection of tea sandwiches, and for dessert, we served "smiles"--Jello jigglers set in orange rinds. With the little time we had left, I pulled out my bead collection and the girls made necklaces to hang on their jewelry holders.

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FRIDAY: Because we didn't get through all the crafts Becca wanted to on Thursday, she asked if we could host the Friday morning Mom Camp. This camp was dedicated to stuffed animal sock clothing. What is that, you may be asking? Well, just as it sounds. We gathered up all the socks my son refused to wear, and a bunch of random ribbon. The girls cut them all up to create clothes for their stuffed animals -- tshirts, hats, scarves, leotards, tutus, etc. Then I recorded the stuffed animals as the girls led them and provided commentary for a fashion show. At lunchtime, Katriona took the happy crew for a fun afternoon at the pool!

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Mom Camp was a huge success with all the girls--and the moms! I know we all loved sharing our interests with this small group of girls!