Do-it-youself day camps

Ideas for a Do-It-Yourself Daycamp

With everyone tightening their belts this year, an expensive summer program for your child may be out of the question. Many families are opting for an old-fashioned "co-op" solution, fondly called Backyard Camp. In this, neighbors or friends take turns entertaining their children for a period of days or even weeks. Each family plans something fun to do.

  • Great ideas for Cooking With Kids
  • Crafts, sprinkler tag, pool raft races
  • Taking "Family Game Night" outdoors
  • "Field trips" to local attractions: Lawrence Hall of Science, Zeum at Yerba Buena center, local Chinatowns, historic homes and ranches, water parks


Consider age and number of kids - you don't want to be entertaining 30 3-year-olds. No more than three or four preschooler per adult is best; if kids are older, you can increase the number. Also, you may want to employ neighborhood teens or pre-teens as helpers. You can take up a collection from the parents of the tots to pay for the older kids' time.

Make it special - design tee-shirts, postcards, photos, and definitely have a closing ceremony with fun awards.

Choose a theme - Whether you have a theme for a day or a week, this will make the experience more than a glorified playdate. It can be arts and crafts, sports or even cooking. You can also plan a neat local field trip to go with your theme, such as a trip to MoChA (Museum of Children's Art in Oakland), a Giants or A's baseball game or a food factory or restaurant tour. For instance, at Piatti in Danville, kids are given dough and toppings to make their own pizza, which is then cooked in the restaurant's kitchen.

About Peggy Spear:
Peggy Spear is editor of Bay Area Parent, East Bay and San Francisco/Peninsula editions. She is also a mother of three children, ages 17, 15 and 11. She is a veteran of piecing together a variety of summer activities for her kids, and with the exception a few sunburns and burnt bagel bites, has been pretty successful.

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