How are you coping? The kids are home, school has restarted (at home), you’re trying to work, and the housework and laundry is piling up. It’s stressful, emotional, and overwhelming at times. Take a breath or two. Life is changing and you and the kids deserve time to process all the emotions.
The first week of online learning as been trying at our house. I don’t know about you but I use to complain that the school day was not long enough for working parents. So the 3 hours of school work at home is definitely not long enough. My daughters are using two different learning platforms and I am ping-ponging from one room to the next to answer technical and learning questions from 9 AM to noon. And by noon, they are finished. I still have a job to accomplish. I am not blaming teachers or schools for not giving my children enough work or rolling out distance learning incorrectly. This is simply our new reality and everyone is learning to navigate the new work/home balance. I don’t expect perfection from anyone, including myself.
However, I need more than the schools can currently provide and I can’t continue working in 15 minute increments from noon to midnight. It is frustrating, unproductive and draining. The alternative is to leave the kids by themselves for 5 hours. And most likely that would end with someone needing stitches. To fill that gap, I have been looking for online resources to occupy the kids for a few additional hours without my input or supervision. The list below is what I found so far from summer camp providers, who have quickly shifted to provide online resources for kids and parents. I’ll add more as I find them.
Arts and Minds—All sorts of activities for the kiddos to help them stay mindful and creative.
Avid 4 Adventure—A shortened version of their amazing outdoors camps online each afternoon.
Colorado Academy—All sorts of online classes from chess, to dance, to hula hooping and science.
Craftsman and Apprentice—The ultimate creative maker camp is offering free online videos for kiddos.
Curious Jane—Programs for girls who like to make things is offering free DIYs and live Instagram tutorials.
EVQ Dance—Live stream a dance class in your living room for all ages and dance styles.
Jump Bunch—Online fitness classes available for kiddos.
Lighthouse Writers Workshops--For young poets, novelists and playwrights online workshops.
Outschool—Live online classes for almost any interest area, science, reading, sewing, and raising chickens for instance.
PBS Distance Learning Resources—Short videos and projects on most academic subjects.
Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids—For any future Broadway star, weekly online theatre classes.
Science Matters in America--Online science classes and free YouTube videos.
Silicon STEM Academy--Online coding classes for kiddos.
Snapology—For the future engineer and lego enthusiast in your life. This camp is offering many online building courses. They are also offering daily building challenges on Facebook and Instagram.
Young Americans Center for Financial Literacy--Lemonade stands are frowned upon these days but you can still start the kiddos on a path to becoming an entrepreneur.
Young Rembrandts--Online drawing and art lessons.
I am sure there are many other camps out there stepping up and providing much needed programing. Let me know in the comments what you have found. Parents are not ok right now and we need to support each other.
Now might just be the best time to register for summer camp.
We can’t predict the future and we have our fingers crossed that flattening the curve will allow at least a few summer camps to happen. And, not to mention, we are going to need some distance from the kids by the time summer rolls around.
The kids are home
This means they can help in the planning. Make it a research project for them to find the camps they would like to attend. Give them your perimeters (i.e. a budget, driving distance, and hours) and see what they find. You could be surprised. Heck, they are on the internet anyway, you might as well make it useful. And this might teach them some valuable real world skills not just how to watch YouTube and use TikTok.
Camps are uncertain too
The Covid-19 crisis is causing some camps to rethink their pricing and cancellation policy to adapt to the uncertainty around social-distancing. Summer camps are reporting reduced bookings due to Covid-19. This means many summer camps are extending early bird discounts or offering new discounts. You might find a good deal on your ideal camp. Also, take a look into the camp’s cancellation policy to find out when your last opportunity to receive a refund or credit. Camps are trying to remain flexible too.
We want camps around next year
We rely on summer camps entertain our kiddos in the summer, provide childcare, and build important life skills, like resiliency (which we can all agree is important to recover from the huge changes like the ones we are seeing now). As important as summer camps are for families, summer camps typically operate with low margins, meaning they have high annual costs and low profits, even in a good year. This year some might not make it without some financial support from the community. If you are continuing to pay for other items like gym memberships, which you are not using, or ordering from local restaurants to keep them afloat, then you should consider supporting summer camps the same way. Book summer camps now to make sure your favorite camp is around for years to come.
But really in a time of crisis the best time to register for summer camp is when you are able. Please don't let summer camp planning become an added source of stress and worry. Give yourself the empathy and grace to make it through, whatever that looks like for you. If you want help finding best camp for your family, consider using our planning service. You can also make sure we are still here next year by purchasing a gift card, which does not expire (just a thought).
If the prospect of having your kids home for weeks while you try to “work from home” has you more freaked out than contracting covid-19, then know that you are not alone. No school, no camps, no playdates, no birthday parties, no touching playground equipment. If it has you reaching for the IPad and throwing up your hands, welcome to the club. Do you what you gotta to do to stay sane!! More than now we need compassion and forgiveness for ourselves, our mom squad and our neighbors.
If you are ready to do more, we put together a list of free options that we have seen floating around the internet. Full disclosure, we haven’t vetted any of these. We did our best to rely on reputable sources. Let us know in the comments if a link is broken or if the resource isn’t great.
National Geographic—Quizzes, science experiments, videos, and more. Find their boredom busters here.
Scholastic—Grade-level daily projects for kiddos. Find it here.
Virtual Field Trips—This is a Google doc with links to websites that kids can explore. San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone National Park, the Mars Curiosity Rover and more. Find it here.
Free Resource List—We don’t know who put this together and we haven’t explored it in depth but here is another Google doc with free educational resources. Find it here.
BalletNova—Streaming dance classes live on Facebook. Find them here. If you can, donate to help them.
GoNoodle—Chances are your kiddos use this at school. Movement and calming exercises of various length to keep the kids focused and not couch potatoes. Find them here.
Laura Kelly Designs Printable—Activity and coloring pages for your kiddos. Find them here.
Laura Palmer—Another Laura (this is fast becoming our favorite name) with printable coloring pages for your kiddos. Find them here.
Snapology—Lego Challenges. Follow them on Instagram for regular building challenges to mix up your day.
We probably missed a bunch so if you have something to offer, feel free to add in the comments.
Stay sane. Parents. Stay sane!
Updated List as of 3.18.20 Pulled from comments and more.
Mo Willems Lunch Doodles--doodle along with a fav author. Find it here.
Colorado Ballet Academy-- Refine your technique with this IGTV instructional videos. Find them on Instagram.
Monsters Dance--Have some hiphop fun every Friday at 3PM Eastern Time. Find their YouTube channel here.
StarNetLibraries--If you have capacity to add at home science projects, then check out these vetted activities. Find them here.
Did you just move to Colorado? Do you want you kiddo to embrace the Colorado lifestyle? While there are no summer camps on how to brew craft beer and attending these camps will not get you a coveted “NATIVE” bumper sticker, here are a few summer camps that will help you raise a Coloradan.
Avid for Adventure. When we asked parents which summer camp represented “Colorado” this was a clear winner. Kids spend all day outside challenging themselves with enthusiastic and well-trained counselors guiding them. Kids can choose multi-sport summer camps or specialize in a single activity, like rock climbing, kayaking, or mountain biking. Your kids will come home exhausted. Plus, you don’t have to watch them do things like climb 200 feet above your head, or speed down a trail on a mountain bike.
SPREE. Another outdoor favorite, but this time with a little science mixed in. Run by the nonprofit Greenway Foundation, SPREE summer camp teaches kids how to care for the environment, some local history, and arts and crafts all while they are having great time. They have two locations and are reasonably priced.
SNOBAHN. Did you know that you can ski indoors? You can at SNOBAHN. Give the kiddos a head start on skiing next winter with a summer camp. The kiddos will also enjoy the giant trampolines, perfect for honing their new tricks, and parkour training, which might help them to jump, dive and roll off your furniture a bit more gracefully. Also check out Shredder summer camps if SNOBAHN is too far for you.
Craftsman & Apprentice. Hands on building and creativity. Coloradans tend to be an independent bunch and this summer camp helps your kids learn self-sufficiency through fun activities, like woodworking, and fiber arts. If you want to encourage your kiddo to swing a hammer, or sew but you don’t have the space or you can’t tolerate for the mess, then check out Craftsman & Apprentice.
Art Students League of Denver. Denver and Colorado are home to a lot of artists. No. I’m not kidding. Who wouldn’t want to create art in our beautiful state? So if your kids are into drawing, painting, or ceramics turn to ASL to help guide their development. You can mix and match morning and afternoon sessions for a full day or stick to the half day option.
P.S. We did not receive any compensation from these camps. These just some ideas to get you started. Do you have your own ideas? Let us know in the comments.
What the heck is Plan-uary? For working parents of school-age children, it’s planning and booking your entire summer. This means all the summer camps your kiddos will attend, every vacation you want to take, how you will pay for everything (day camps cost about $325/week in Denver), and who will provide back up childcare. It’s the biggest test of your project management skills and your resolve after the holidays, and it feels like a cruel joke. If you thought summer would be laidback and flexible, throw that idea out the window, and put on your stripped, Type A sweater.
You can do this. Here are 5 tips to survive.
Freak out now
You know you want to so give in. This is not the time to internalize and push your feelings down deep. You want to bring the anxiety and stress to the surface now so you can process them and develop coping strategies. When Denver area summer camps open for registration and you start receiving emails with discount codes, you need to be ready. Deal with your feelings now so you don’t have to later.
Compile your kiddo’s complete medical history
Does your child have asthma? Need an EpiPen? Sneezed too hard last week. Write it all down. Summer camps need your kiddo’s immunization status, allergy information, and other pertinent health data. They also need to know your favorite hospital, dentist, and pediatrician. If you want to make sure your child is well cared for at summer camp, then start a file. It’s better to compile it all early instead of researching the nearest hospital each time you complete the registration paperwork.
Decide when you would like to vacation
Depending on your level of conscientiousness you can also decide the “where” but the important part for summer camp registration is the “when”. You don’t want to schedule a week of summer camp when you were supposed to attend a family reunion. So, make sure you’ve called all your relatives, college roommates, and best friends from 5th grade to disavow the concept of a spontaneous visit by you or them. Remember, you have your type A sweater on so use its power. Refund policies vary by summer camp but typically you loose at least a percentage of your payment.
Start a group text to your mom squad
This is for planning and complaining. You won’t do this alone. If you want your kids to attend summer camp with a friend (and usually the kids insist on this), you'll need to coordinate with other families’ summer plans. (See strategy 3) I recommend a shared spreadsheet as well to help keep everyone on the same page.
Request time off from work
This is not for summer vacation. This is for summer camp planning and research. It takes hours to plan, search, coordinate, and book summer camps and you can’t do it all on nights and weekends. You will need to take some "work time" to get your summer camp plan in order.
Camp Sidekick can help by creating a customized plan to fit your family’s needs and provides a list of summer camp sessions but the rest you need to do yourself.
Do you have other survival strategies? Share them in the comments below.