There is something about this painting, Summer Idyll c. 1889 by Charles Conder, that I love. It may speak to the idea of summer as it should be in my mind, or the hazy colors may simply shout at me. Regardless, I know that I approach most summers as a parent with equal parts enthusiasm and concern I’ll waste any precious moment of their limited, carefree summer days.
However, thanks to an absolutely fantastic post by one of my favorite authors and writing muses, Kyran Pittman, I’m pleased that Camp Stephens kicked off its first summer session today. Our camper enrollment is completely sold out with a full roster of two campers who have (basically) enthusiastically registered for the entire summer!
Kyran is the epitome of the cool mom in addition to being a Good Housekeeping columnist, author of Planting Dandelions, Newfoundland-to-Arkansas transplant and blogger extraordinaire. I love her lens and her words, and enthusiastically recommend you read her musings.
Last week, I read this post by Kyran about the launch of Camp Whattawedo, and two days later had my game plan to shamelessly steal, heavily borrow and occasionally adjust her plan for our family’s needs. I’m delighted by the basic concept, which provides much-needed structure to our summer but allows plenty of time for both fun and freelance work. Here’s the gist of our camp brochure:
Camp Stephens is a day camp beginning June 10 and running Monday – Friday 8a to 5p. Management regrets to inform campers that no electronics are permitted from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during camp activities. A detailed list of camper duties and daily chores is posted.
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet available after camper morning chores complete.
Choose your own activity (eat, sleep in, electronics, TV) until 10a
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Activity of the day + picnic or late lunch at home
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Toddler Nap/Tween Quiet Time (reading, drawing, etc.)
4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Afternoon chores, camp clean-up time, snacks and outside time!
A few notes: yes, I totally bribe my children with food and they have to do chores before they eat and veg out. There are some nice blocks of time every morning and afternoon (and even during some activities, such as our library visit) for me to tackle freelance work, personal projects and blogging.
Monday library/park day coincides with weekly summer movies at the library but also leaves time for checking books in and out. And wow – our preferred library has an amazing number of (free!) summer activities (like origami and girls’ book discussions) and resources (like free Nook check-out, an app for e-books and audiobooks, free language learning tools).
We have a giant (ok, ridiculous) upstairs craft and play room, so we’ll be tackling plenty of creative projects with inspiration from Pinterest and our own supplies on Tuesdays, such as Father’s Day gifts or collages. Or, we’ll visit local art and photography galleries, go to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art or work on our “plein air” art skills.
I’m particularly excited about our Wednesday Water Day. We’ll be hitting the Bentonville and Rogers splash parks, the brand new Rogers Aquatics Center, the pool at my sister’s or my parents’ houses or occasionally just tackling a backyard project. One of my favorites is having the kids scrub down their bath toys and various garden tools, naturally getting soaked in the process.
On Thursdays, we’ll be working on French language. My oldest has finally shown a great interest in learning French, so we’ll use our own ample supply of Madeline movies, French audio CDs for kids, language books and online lessons and activities. We checked out quite a surprising number of French books for kids at the Bentonville Public Library today and enrolled through the library in the awesome (free!) Mango Languages program, which has apps for the iPad. We may tackle French baking or a trip to Crepes Paulette or Meridienne to further entertwine our day’s activities with language basics.
As I look at our Friday adventures, I truly can’t believe how many amazing options we have in northwest Arkansas for fun, free field trips. A few early options may include the Museum of Native American History in Bentonville, the Rogers Historical Museum, the little-known mini-museum of firefighter memorabilia at Fire Station #1 near our house in downtown Rogers, hiking or birding at Hobbs State Park. If I have my way (which seems likely), we’ll also find some old souls to visit and places off the beaten path to tromp.
In conclusion: man, I love a good plan. And yes: it is difficult to determine whether the campers or yours truly win the prize for most excited.
Bring it on, summer. We’ll not be idle.
Unless it is a carefully scripted portion of the day. Now, children: go lay on your backs in the grass and stare at the clouds until 4:48 p.m.