So perhaps you are feeling inspired to try this whole summer camp at home thing and you are wondering, "How do we get started?" Here's how:

Gather Your Ideas

All year long when I see a great magazine article about an activity that I think would appeal to our family, or a cool website showcasing a craft that I know they would enjoy, I cut out the article or clip the web post into an Evernote file. Then sometime around Memorial Day, I print out a blank calendar and start penciling in all of my fun ideas — starting with assigning dates for field trips to museums, zoos, and historical sites, and then adding in some close to home outings such as trips to the town pool, bowing alley, or to the beach. Next I will go through all of my craft ideas and pick a few to do each week, put them into the calendar, and start a supply list so I can purchase what I need before the kids are out of school. Finally, I look for recipes that would be fun to make with the kids and add those to the calendar.

Set Some Summer Goals

Over dinner one night, the kids and I will brainstorm a list of goals that we each have for ourselves for the summer. For little ones, a great summer goal might be learning to tie his or her shoes, or mastering riding a bike without training wheels. Older children might want to tackle a new book series (my 2nd grader just started Harry Potter!) or set some fitness goals such as being able to do 15 really good push ups or pull ups. My older children would like to learn how to blog this summer. (Yikes!) My kids will also have some academic goals, such as reading each day and spending some time with their Scholastic bridge activity books to review what was learned during the school year.

And I think it is great for Mom and Dad to set some fun summer goals, too. (And no, I am not talking a diet goal here!). My husband is taking a beekeeping class and has recently installed a honeybee hive in our yard. My goal is to spend some time kayaking a few times a month during the summer.

Decide What's Got to Slide

No one person can do it all. If your plan is to spend time with your kids conducting a summer camp at home, then you need to decide what is coming off of your to-do list over the summer. The house might be a little dustier, and the piles of paperwork on my desk aren't going to be filed again until September. And that's fine with me. I also think summer is a great time for my kids to assume a few extra chores around the house — which helps to lighten Mom's workload.

Celebrate Your Success

No matter how wonderfully fun and packed your summer camp at home calendar is, there will come a time when your kids will announce that they are bored and that you "never do anything fun." And that, my friend, is why you need your very own Summer Camp Gratitude Wall!

At our house, we take and print pictures of all of the different activities, outings, and crafts that we do and tape them on our fridge under a big banner that says "Fun Things We Did This Summer!" The kids love to look at all of the pictures and talk about what we've done, and as soon as I add new ones, they love to show their Dad what we did while he was at the office. By the end of the summer we have a huge collection of memories right there in the kitchen for all of us to enjoy.

Throughout the summer I will be posting articles here on Parenting Squad that I hope will inspire you to try creating your own summer camp at home — for a week, for a month, or even for the whole summer!

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