School's Out: Ideas for Community Summer Programs

School’s out for summer! How will you keep your kids busy? Many working and stay at home parents sign their children up for summer camps or day care that can become quite costly. If your daily routine allows, you can create some fun camps and great activities right in your community with other neighbors. And it can work like a cost free day care? IKO Community Management knows budgets can be tight for families. Getting to know others in your neighborhood with kids can help alleviate this stress by working together to share fun activities.

Many towns or cities do have free programs during the day for kids of all ages to attend. Check with your local Parks and Recreation and your local Library. These can be very helpful to entertain the kids during the summer allowing the parents a few free hours or so to run much needed errands alone. Coordinate with other neighbors to form a carpool.

Parks and Recreation camps usually run daily Monday through Friday for several weeks during the summer months and are free or minimal costs. Age groups may vary, but most of these programs take kids from ages 5 to 14. You will have to register your child or children for these supervised activities. These fun planned activities can range from arts and crafts, to sports, to theater, water relays, strategy games, and much more. Would your teenager like to work for the summer? Many of these programs hire teens to assist park leaders.

Public Libraries can be a wonderful place of free entertainment for youth. From teen book clubs, thinking games, story time for younger children, movies, creative crafts, and more, your local library can be more than just a place to check out books. Your library branch may even be looking for older youth to volunteer their help for these summer programs. Continue to encourage children to read all summer long!!

Creating fun group activities for kids in your neighborhood will take just a bit of organizing. Knowing how many families will want to participate, kind of activities, location of events, etc. will help with how many parents it will take to chaperone and run each activity. Split up the events among parents so that each parent will have free time off.

If your neighborhood has a playground this is a good start. Organize a two or three hour once a week play time for kids. Each week different parents can be in charge of the playtime while others will have some free time. It’s a win for everyone. The kids will be worn out from running a round and some parents will have free time to do as they choose.

Pavilions are great for summer activities. Maybe some of the parents in your neighborhood are crafty and pavilions can create the shade and table space needed to do projects. These parents could do a once a week craft time as their turn to watch all the kids. Have the kids bring a lunch to add more fun. Don’t have a pavilion close by? A garage can be a great place for crafting as well.

Bike riding adventures can be great fun. If your neighborhood is not convenient for bike riding, check on trails close by where kids of all ages can ride. A few designated parents, a first aid kit with band-aids, extra water bottles, and a time limit, can make for a great day. Parents can have a meeting area where kids and bikes will be dropped off and picked back up.

Nature hikes are awesome. Many towns and cities are close to national parks. Available at some parks are guides that can explain birds and other wildlife, plants and tree types, and other history or important information on the area of the hike. Make sure to send your child with extra water, good walking shoes, bug spray and energy snack. Always have the parent chaperones take a first aid kit and an emergency phone list just in case.

Have a swimming pool in your neighborhood? One of the best ways for kids to spend their summer is swimming. Parents can share responsibilities at the pool giving each other time off at home to do the things they need to get done while the kids are away at the pool. Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen, beach towels, water or juice to drink, and a snack. Swim lessons are often held in the morning. This is another great way to have an activity for the kid’s right in your own community. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a pool, many other communities with pools allow others to sign up for morning swim lessons.

Plan a 4th of July parade in your neighborhood. Have all participants decorate their bikes, wagons, or strollers. Make a contest for best decorations at the end. Hold a picnic or a simple lemonade and snack social for the finish.

Talents are endless with parents in neighborhoods. Perhaps someone would like to hold a cooking class a few times during the summer. How about performing arts? Plan a play to be put on at the end of summer. Hold practices and create backgrounds and costumes. Or consider planning a talent show. These are great community activities with no or limited costs to families.

Plan a mid-summer carnival. Each participating family can create a game. Bring them all together for one big day of fun for all. Make a picnic pot luck for all to share. Need prizes? Have the kids go through their old gently used toys to give away. At the end of the day, donate all leftover toys to a charity. Some of the older teens may want to set up a face painting table, etc. Maybe a game of family kick-ball or whiffle-ball?

IKO Community Management wants everyone to have the best summer. Keeping the kids occupied and burning off energy can be easy, fun and shared by families working together. This also allows for some free time for all parents if discussed and planned early enough. Planning is half the battle. Remember to have first aid kits and contact numbers in case of emergency. Have a safe, fun and adventurous summer. The possibilities are endless!

Download IKO's Guide to Planning Community Events