Raise your hand if you’re ready for some warmer weather! (Me, Me, Me!) While summer may still be a few months away, it is time to start planning for it NOW. Especially if you plan on signing your kids up for summer camps. Yes, Smarties – this was a shocker to me too! But as a working mom, camp is not a “fun activity to fill Jake’s time while not in school” kind of thing, but rather a “mom works full time and even though she’d love to take the summer off and play SAHM we have bills to pay so I need to find summer care” kind of thing. As many of you know, Jake is a kindergartner this year, so we’re going through a year of “first times”. Christmas break was the first time we encountered the need for coverage – I signed him up for “science camp” through the after school program. While it was an easy option and several friends from school were there, it wasn’t quite what I envisioned as a “super fun” camp for Christmas break. Luckily, he was only there for 3 days, but I immediately realized I was going to have to get my game on in order to make summer more enjoyable – for both of us!
So, for our first time planning for summer care, I find myself extremely overwhelmed with all the options … where to start, which camps are fun, which camps have hours that work for my husband and I’s work schedule, which camps are his friends going to, and how much is all this going to cost??? After a bit of research, I decided for our first year we needed to go SIMPLE! I have friends who have this down to a science, but I can barely remember what day it is, let alone which camps falls on which week. Maybe some day … but for now, we are sticking with just one for the entire summer.
In case you’re in the same boat and haven’t decided what to do this summer, here’s a couple of tips and resources:
* CMS summer is 10 weeks long, with most summer camps starting June 14th running through August 20th. I think most private schools follow a similar schedule.
* Be sure to pay attention to drop off and pick up times. This is particularly important for the working mom – not all camps cover “business hours” so a little creative flexibility may be required.
* Costs range from around $125/week for half day camps to around $200-$300/week for full day camps. Depending on the specialty, however, I’ve seen rates as high as $500/week. This might be a good option if camp coverage is not required for all 10 weeks!
* Charlotte Parent Magazine has put together a phenomenal listing of all camps in the area – everything from the Children’s Theatre to YMCA camps, to equestrian and art camps. They also provide a complete listing of overnight camps if your little one is ready to try a week or so away from home. This is an EXCELLENT resource if your not sure where to start.
* Ask around – I think word of mouth is one of the best ways to find out whats going on and to get some great reco’s.
Finally, check out what some of our fellow smarties have to say. Robin is a fellow working mom of 3 school aged kids and has several tried and true tips on planning for the summer. Smarty Mom Michelle Vigor shared with us her summer survival tips on planning for full time care. And Courtenay shared her smarty guide to summer camps from a SAHM perspective.
No matter what you decide – you need to ACT FAST! The more popular camps (Harris Y specialty camps, Children’s Theatre) fill up FAST. Harris Y began taking registrations Feb 1 for members and Feb 15 for non-members. I believe their basic camp (which still offers swimming, field games, crafts, etc) takes a lot of kids, but space is limited in the specialty camps.
What has your experience been? Have any favs you want to share with our smarty readers? Or do you have any great tips to share on how to plan for summer care? Let us know!