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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Do-it-yourself summer camp

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 6:39 p.m. MDT

Chicken Soup for the Soul offers inspirational stories and columns to motivate and encourage readers. (Provided by King Features Syndicate) Chicken Soup for the Soul offers inspirational stories and columns to motivate and encourage readers. (Provided by King Features Syndicate)

The summer season is officially upon us, and that means it's time for busy parents to think about what the kids will do when school gets out. I remember those lazy summer days well. The kids usually went to camp for a few weeks, and then we had the rest of the summer to hang around at home and maybe go on one fun trip to someplace interesting.

But what if you have nothing planned, or you don't have the budget to take the kids away this summer or send them to camp? As Diana Perry explained in her story "The Moveable Vacation," in our book for multitasking moms, a little creativity can go a long way.

Diana found that most of her friends were in the same position as she was, so they decided to make their own summer camp for free. "One mother was a gardener, so on Mondays the kids would all go to her house. They would play games using plants and vegetables, such as a relay race where they had to pass a green bean held between their teeth. They also planted vegetables and watched them grow over the summer. They even had a salad in August after picking their veggies."

On Tuesdays, the kids would go to the home of the assistant pastor, whose wife organized fun contests related to questions about the Bible. On Wednesdays Diana was in charge. She made an outdoor obstacle course that incorporated spare tires, a balance beam made from spare wood planks, and a tunnel made from large cardboard boxes that Diana got from an appliance store and taped together. On Thursdays the kids had arts and crafts at another mother's house, and Fridays were hosted by a single dad who took everyone treasure hunting with his metal detector.

Diana reports that the summer was a big success. Her son said, "Mom, I think we had the best vacation ever, not like all the other kids who only got a vacation for a couple of weeks." And her daughter added, "We got to spend it with our friends, not just with our parents, and it lasted the whole summer long."

Noted psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison said it best: "Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity." Diana and her friends created a magical summer for their children, filled with play, and by each taking responsibility for one day of camp, they even created some time off for themselves. What a great idea. Why didn't I think of that back when the kids were young?

Share your own creative summer plans with me at amy@chickensoupforthesoul.com.

Visit our website: chickensoup.com. ©2014 by Amy Newmark Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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