Thursday, June 30, 2011

Camp Achterberg

July seems like the longest month of the year to me. I don’t know if it’s the long wait for ripe tomatoes, or the endless days of children brimming with energy and attitudes. Either way the month surely drags.

When they were small I stockpiled all the camps for July. A few hours of peace were worth the price tag, besides Vacation Bible Schools run back to back and cost nothing. But then the protests began. No one wanted to go to bible school. No one wanted to get out of bed for camp. It’s too hot. None of my friends are going. Blah, blah, blah. And the costs of camps for bigger kids seems to escalate with every year and every sport.

To avoid their rebellion, I rebelled. No more camps. Alright just one each. This summer we’re down to the free Harry Potter camp at the library and a Medieval Times camp through the school system. My checkbook is happy, but I’m back to the endless days of nothing to do but ferry the children to the pool or friends’ houses. Frankly, I’m bored.

"Swimming in the driveway"
 So it’s time for “CAMP ACHTERBERG”. Camp Achterberg was born one summer a few years ago when there was too much time and no money for camp. So I made our own camp. Five days of homemade fun! When I first announced it, you could hear the groans for miles around. But ask them about it now and they love to tell stories of Camp Achterberg. “Remember when that lady came and yelled at us for swimming in her driveway!” This was the stream hike that went a little too far and ended with threats from a distant neighbor when the kids were jumping off her driveway bridge in to the creek that ran underneath. She was pretty worked up and it certainly didn’t help that the kids thought she was kidding when she yelled, “No swimming in my driveway!”
Camp Achterberg is one week of planned events led by none other than mom. Here is a list of ideas we’ve used and/or considered:

- stream hike - you don’t need a stream running down your street like we have, you can head over to a park or just pull over along the side of the road. Be sure to wear old shoes, sunscreen, and bug spray.

- Visit a farm – there are loads of farms out there that give tours, check them out online or ask a farmer at your farmer’s market if their game.

- Visit an obscure museum. Most of us never visit the museums in our town unless we have company visiting, and then we just hit the big ones. There’s a National Clock and Watch museum nearby that gets rave reviews, look in your phone book or online and find a museum noone knows about – they’re usually free or even cheap.

- Make a big, messy art project. Go to your local arts & crafts store and buy something you’ve always wanted to do – tie dye is fun. Last year we painted tiles left from a rehab project as stepping stones for the garden (and grave markers when the fish we won at the carnival died).

- Go to the movies

- Have storytime – no matter the age, kids still love to be read to. Fix a snack, get comfy and read.

- Taste test all the ice cream stands in your town (get a pint to go from each and dig in blind folded!)

- Go bowling or ice skating

- Invite friends over

- Take a hike

- Go canoeing or kayaking

- Sleep in a tent in the yard

- Have a bonfire and make s’mores (or use your grill if it’s too hot)

- Swap bedrooms

- Go berry picking

- Take a factory tour (we loved the candy factory tour!)

- Make a water slide in your yard

- Put on a talent show (pets are also invited to perform)

- Visit a kennel with new puppies

- Volunteer at a food bank

- Take a bike ride somewhere other than your own street

- Build a bug or rock collection

- Go to the pool from the minute it opens until the minute it closes

- Go geocaching or letterboxing

- Have a picnic

We brainstorm ideas and nothing is off the table. Sometimes a camp day is simply each kid inviting three friends to come play which makes it feel like camp. Or it’s a trip to the dollar store with all the money you can earn in one morning (great trick for getting your house picked up). It’s doing anything you wouldn’t do on a normal day. It makes every day a special occasion. For us, going out to eat is rare, so a camp day might include a meal out somewhere new.

Hairnets required for factory tours!
If you haven’t got a whole week to dedicate to camp, try one day a week. “Camp Tuesday” works just fine. Some of these activities might cost a little money, but compared to the camp fees, they are a real bargain. Start your own camp this summer. I promise you’ll make memories that last a lifetime and you’ll never realize how much fun you can have in your own hometown.

1 comment:

  1. My mom used to do this when I was little! I mighta groaned a couple times, but there was nothing like spending that quality time with her and all that I learned along the way.