It was the end of a crazy weekend.
My husband’s in a tech field, and that means that in certain seasons, they have long hours. They’ll work for months on building new projects, and then they have to spend a day or two actually “launching” that project. This was one of those weekends, and he’d worked for the previous 36 hours with almost no breaks. I was charged with taking the kids out — anywhere — so he could rest from this insanity.
After a quick snack, we ended up at the library. It wasn’t our first time at this particular branch, but it was the first time since we moved. It was cool to be there before, but now it’s actually close to us! Being that it’s in a new county, we got new library cards — my 5-year-old got his for the first time.
While we were there, I checked out the library’s program schedule. BOOM! They offer monthly cookbook clubs for kids 6 – 10, Lego clubs, robotics clubs, and more. My daughter quickly picked up next month’s cookbook so she could participate in the club meeting. I wrote down all of the upcoming events that I knew we’d want to attend, to transfer to my dry erase calendar on the fridge once the month starts.
This all got me thinking, of course, about summer. (I always do this when I’m pregnant. I want to plan everything and do everything and make it perfect.) I found a dance studio for my daughter and a baseball league for my oldest son. Then, I thought about what else we’d like to do…and came up with this idea.
The Unschooling Coop Inspires
I head up a local unschooling coop.
We began our planning meetings about a year ago, getting a feel for the community and their needs. Our informal meetings began in March and lasted through the summer. In September, we launched our first official year!
It’s been an exciting ride. We’ve had people come in and out, established a good core group, tweaked our focus and events, and so on. We’ve got a solid thing going now and I know that when it comes time, the ’15 – ’16 school year will be even better.
In the middle, though, we have the summer months.
It’s been our plan the whole time to meet every couple of weeks during the summer, very informally. Basically, picnics at parks, splash pads, the zoo, and so on. Our goal for these meetings isn’t really education, but mostly to stay connected and get ourselves out of the house regularly.
But I thought — I really want more than that. There’s so much to learn and explore in the summer months that can’t be done during the winter due to weather and time constraints. And of course, it would be great to have friends to explore it with….
And so came the idea for homeschool summer camp.
Homeschool Summer Camp
This is an idea you can replicate in your own area if you like. Basically, it’s this.
Our homeschooling group will be holding a “camp” that lasts through the whole summer, meeting every other week — a total of 6 times. We’ll be creating groups of 6 families each with similar interests and who are located in similar parts of the city. During the summer, each family will “host” one event (which may be at their home or maybe at another local place — farms, zoo, park, etc.). These events will be focused on some sort of child-led educational activity, like geocaching, nature scavenger hunt, wild foraging, exploring caves, etc. Each group will plan their own events a few weeks prior to the start of camp.
It’s wonderful because it will allow our very large group to break off into smaller, more focused groups for a special study. Plus, as a leader, I’ll have to sort through the paperwork to match up groups and provide them with how-to information, but then they’ll take it from there.
These groups could be about random exploration — finding as many local resources as possible to take advantage of. They could be about a specific ongoing project, like building a robot. Really, they can take any shape.
Our camps are aimed at families with kids 3 – 10, so they’re likely to be much more open-ended. We aren’t charging for the camps, although individual groups may charge for actual costs — admission to events, supplies needed, etc.
If you are in a homeschool coop, or lead one, and would like more information on how to start something like this in your area, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to share our description, FAQ, registration form, etc. with you. If you’re in the Central OH area and would like to participate in ours, please email me and ask! You do not have to be a homeschooler or a member of our coop to join in — this is for anyone who is interested in summer enrichment.
Have you participated in any type of summer camps before?