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Backyard Summer Camp: Day 5

Alameda County Fair (Photo by Pauline Lubens/San Jose Mercury News) We’re nearing the finish line on the coolest summer fun idea yet: a do-it-yourself summer camp that turns your backyard (and those of your friends) into kid central. We’ve already shared Peggy Spear’s tips on how to host a DIY Backyard Summer Camp, and some great ideas for Days 1, 2, 3 and 4 – Backyard Olympics, Day Tripping, a Splash Fest and Cookin’ with the Kids. Now it’s time for…

Day 5: Friday Funday
“With the week coming to an end, it’s time to give everyone a break,” says Peggy. “Pick an amusement park, movie theater or sporting event and take the campers on another field trip.”

  • You don’t have to take on something as spectacular, both financially and in terms of roller coasters, as Great America or Discovery Kingdom. Think family friendly and small scale – Concord’s Pixieland, Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland or your local zoo.
  • Check out summer movie deals too. Cinemark’s Summer Movie Clubhouse offers $5 family films on weekday mornings during the summer, for example.
  • Go bowling, or mini-golfing.
  • Or pitch a tent for a neighborhood camp-out under the stars.
  • Check out more ideas for backyard fun, including cardboard pirate ships and giant bubbles.

OK, now it’s your turn. Click “comments” and tell us, what are you doing with your kids this summer?

Posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
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Backyard Summer Camp: Day 4

Cooking class ILLUS Who needs a pricey summer camp, when you’ve got such creative families in your own neighborhood? That’s Peggy Spear’s idea, anyway, and she’s assembled the coolest collection of backyard summer camp ideas ever. We’ve already shared her tips on how to host a DIY Backyard Summer Camp, and some great ideas for Days 1, 2 and 3 – Backyard Olympics, Day Tripping and a Splash Fest.

But, says Peggy, “After all the activity of the last three days, campers may be getting a bit weary. Turn on the air conditioning, if needed, and invite the campers into the kitchen.”

Day 4: Cooking Class
The focus, Peggy says, should be on having fun and getting excited about cooking, but if you can sneak in some healthy eating tips and math/measuring practice, all the better. So here are Peggy’s tips and a few more… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Under: Backyard Summer Camp, Cuisine | No Comments »

Backyard Summer Camp: Day 3

20090408 Duck swimmer OK, it may be Friday here, but it’s hump day planning for your backyard summer camp. We’ve already talked about how to host a DIY Backyard Summer Camp, and some great ideas for Days 1 and 2 – Backyard Olympics and Day Tripping – with help from our buddy Peggy Spear. Now it’s on to …

Day 3: Splash Attack
“The host,” says Peggy, “should have access to a backyard or neighborhood swimming pool. With careful supervision, this can be one of the best days of camp.” Make sure you have lifeguards, and enough helpers! Then break out the inner tubes, Nerf balls and fun.

  • Take a cue from your Backyard Olympics, and organize some games, says Peggy, such as inner tube water polo, pool volleyball, sharks and minnows and raft races.
  • We’ve got six more pool game suggestions, ranging from Ping Pong Scramble to Bottle, a sneaky underwater version of “Steal the Bacon,” but the “bacon” is a clear, 2-liter, water-filled plastic bottle that becomes nearly invisible under water.
  • Family Fun magazine suggests playing an aquatic version of “Hide the Balloons.”

Posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010
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Backyard Summer Camp: Day 2

Zeum We’re continuing to celebrate the glories of DIY summer camp, the economical, fun way to keep kids entertained this summer – right in your own backyard or, better yet, your neighbor’s! As we mentioned, our colleague Peggy Spear wrote this great how-to piece, and we’ve been sharing bits and pieces, starting with how to set it up in the first place , and how to host a Backyard Olympics for the first day. Here’s Peggy’s great idea for day 2, with some variations on the theme…

Day 2: Day Tripping
Round up some helpers – other parents or teen “camp counselors” – and hit the road. Just make sure everyone has a buddy, says Peggy, and don’t forget to count heads every now and then.

  • Take the crew to San Francisco by BART or ferry for a tour around Yerba Buena Gardens or Chinatown.
  • Nearly every museum has a scavenger hunt for kids, so take advantage of free days at the museums and make this a wallet-friendly, cultural foray. The Oakland Museum, for example, is hosting a Pixar exhibit.
  • Visit your local children’s museum – or round up the minivans and venture to a children’s museum in a neighboring town. Us Bay Area-ites have an embarrassment of riches in that respect, including Berkeley’s Habitot, San Francisco’s Zeum (and the cool carousel next door, pictured), the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, and the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose.
  • Play local tourist. Don the ridiculous clothing, wear outsized sunglasses, carry maps, and go hit the tourist destinations you never visit. Oh you know what we mean – Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory!

Posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
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Backyard Summer Camp: Day 1

20080513 China games As we mentioned on Friday, our colleague – and awesome mom buddy – Peggy Spear wrote a great story the other day about hosting your own DIY Summer Camp. Such a great idea – and some of these themes would be great for a birthday party too!) So here’s Peggy’s great idea for Day 1, followed by some variations on the theme.

Day 1: Neighborhood Olympics

  • Pick a house with a big backyard or proximity to a park.
  • Design a poster or mascot. Assemble or create flags from many nations — or they can represent neighborhood streets or local cities.
  • Design score cards for judges and have the kids design the medals
  • Have a bucket of water bottles and easy-to-grab snacks handy.
  • Then let the games begin! Peggy suggests wheelbarrow races, limbo, tug-of-war, basketball free-throws, water balloon toss, whiffle ball, ping-pong, or relay races.
  • We’d like to argue for the inclusion of Statues, Shark and Sardines as Backyard Olympic Sports.
  • suggests including a torch run through the neighborhood – love that! And Family Fun Magazine has instructions for making the perfect torch.
  • And finally, don’t forget closing ceremonies – a little procession, some glorious awards, perhaps a kazoo concert, and a hot dog cookout.

We’ll share Peggy’s day-tripping day 2 idea on Wednesday, but meanwhile, have you ever done a backyard olympics party? Or backyard summer camp? Share your tips here!

Posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010
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Backyard Summer Camp

Summer camp (courtesy of MCT Direct) My colleague Peggy Spear wrote the most charming story this week about doing a DIY summer camp – a rollicking, good time in your own backyard. She had such great ideas, that we’re excerpting some of our favorites over the coming weeks.

“It’s less than a month into summer vacation,” says Peggy, “and already the natives are getting restless. And while the weather’s hot, the economy is anything but, so for many families pricey summer camps and vacations are not an option. Yet help is as close as your own backyard. Literally. With a little imagination, parents can create summer fun for their kids by hosting Backyard Camps — loosely organized activities that will amuse parents and kids.”

But make sure you don’t end up hosting the whole neighborhood. “The key to success,” says Peggy, “is finding other families in the same boat. Church groups, swim teams, even the school roster are great places to start.Backyard Camps run on the assumption that everyone shares in the planning, and different families take responsibility for different days.”

Tune in Monday, when Peggy dishes on Day 1 ideas – Neighborhood Olympics! – and we add our two cents.

Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010
Under: Backyard Summer Camp | 4 Comments »