- Sophie &Friends
One of the highlights of my summer is a “Kidz Kamp” that I run for one of my dear longtime clients. She has two boys ages 9 and 6, who are both incredibly interesting kids with amazing friends. In the past, the little brother had been excluded from most of the Kamp activities, settling for hovering on the sidelines and jumping in every now and again when we did things like tie-dye or Capture the Flag with Nerf guns. But this year, my client thought it only fair that our 6-year-old have his own Kamp. After all, we started his brother’s Kamp when he was 6, so it seemed only fitting that the little brother get his own Kamp now.
The plan was to have my older kids from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in one location, then have my younger kids in a completely different location from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The time in between was filled in by the host parent, who hosted lunch and swimming. It was a good system that ended up working out really well.
Here’s a breakdown of what we did during each day of Kamp, with a few notes on what really worked well, and the highlights of our week.
I thought that it would be fun for all of our Kamp kids to be together for one day. Little kids always look up to big kids so much, and it’s fun to see how the big kids can help mentor the little ones. With this in mind, we worked on activities that combined the two groups into teams.
We started with a getting to know you game called TP Truths. It ended up being quite interesting, and I was amazed at how much the little guys were willing to share about themselves. The big kids tried harder to get laughs with their answers instead, but on the whole, I learned a great deal about everyone.
After that activity, we paired up each big kid with a little kid, and do a Trust Walk, where one kid guided their blindfolded partner through the yard. Then we played Blind Ball, which has a similar premise. It was a hoot to watch, and everyone took it seriously, so there were no accidents.
We also made plaster masks, tie-dyed our official Kamp shirts, and had a contest to see which pair could make the tallest marshmallow and pasta structure.
All in all, it was a very successful way of combining the two groups – even given the three year age gap.
The theme for the day was “Backyard Ballistics!” It was a blast -- literally! We made popsicle stick crossbows, set up a shooting range, and made potato guns from Steve Spangler’s book, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes. I have to note that the potato guns were hard for the kids to manage; it takes a lot of strength to load the tube with the potato pieces. However, the effect was really fun, and the boys definitely enjoyed shooting them.
The highlight of this day though, was the “egg delivery challenge” where my boys created transport systems for delicate little eggies!
For my little guys, we continued the ballistics theme, but made it a bit more age-appropriate. We started with simple catapults, followed by stomp rockets, straw shooters, exploding film canisters, and balloon-powered rocket racers.
My little guys spent an hour alone working on their catapults – one camper made an entire battalion of 10 different ones! My kampers insisted that we hold a contest to see which catapults shot the farthest, had the best aim, and shot the highest into the sky. My little ones were proving to be just as inquisitive and insightful as my big guys.
On this day, I only had my little guys, because the big kids were off on a parent-designed adventure. I figured it would be a fun day to focus on nature.
We started by going on a scavenger hunt for different leaves, and then making leaf rubbings from our findings. The bulk of the day, however, was taken up by making grow buddies and miniature tree houses. This was a day when the kids didn’t want to stop working, and their parents practically had to drag them from Kamp. It was fun meeting all the kamper’s parents -- one mom told me that her child was dressed and ready to go to camp 3 hours before they were set to leave!
This day was a two-theme day. For my morning crew we focused on construction; I had them watch this cute little video about a 9-year-old boy named Caine who constructed his own arcade out of cardboard. It inspired my boys to untold heights! They spent the entire rest of their time (and well into the afternoon when I was on my way to the second session) designing, creating, and running their own cardboard arcade.
My afternoon was spent getting messy! After the kids donned garbage bag smocks, we made bouncy balls, bubbling brews with vinegar and baking soda, and explored the beauty of milky fireworks. I let the campers play with all the materials and make their own mixtures, which led to some very interesting combinations… and some very colorful fingers!
Friday was water day! Both crews constructed their own water parks using PVC pipe and a garden hose. PVC is amazing – it’s really easy to cut and drill (holes are necessary for the water to come out) and with all the connectors, elbows, and caps you can buy, it’s like a giant set of Tinker Toys!
We also made our own slip-n’-slides out of giant plastic sheeting that I got from the hardware store. We simply rolled out the plastic, used garden staples to hold it in place, doused the whole thing in water, and let the kids go to town!
We also played water balloon baseball, used hoses to score goals with beach balls, and replicated an idea that I saw in my favorite magazine, Family Fun. We took tin foil and created a long winding river! The kids used bottle caps and tin foil to make little boats and we had races all day long.
All in all, I was sad to see Friday come to an end. It was, as always, a great way to end the summer: a week spent with a bunch of amazing kids. The thing I love most about summer Kamp is that it gives me an opportunity to really use all the things I’ve learned how to do over the years and also try out new ideas. It’s intriguing to see what captures the attention of the campers, and just how focused kids can become. I guess you could say that I enjoy Kamp just as much as the campers… maybe even more!