Even with the economy on the mend, many of us are examining our budgets and trying to figure out what to keep and what to cut. Summer camp
can be expensive, but don't worry: If you can't afford it, you can create your own alternative -- Camp Mom and Dad -- on your own. Here are a few ideas for you to mix-and-match.
- 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.
- Visit your library -- but not just for books. Many libraries have passes to local museums that members can check out for free.
- Play tourist. Take your kids (and your neighbors', too) on a tour of the town in which you all already live. You may be surprised at what hidden gems your hometown has to offer.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Experiment. Make an erupting volcano from baking soda and vinegar. See if you really can cook an egg on the sidewalk. Create a cactus garden. Catch bugs in a jar and observe them. The possibilities are endless; your local library can help.
- 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... check out About.com's great list of ideas for more option.
- 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.