Home Camp Swap
Those of us ESP parents who both work part-time and enjoy a weekday or more home with our children each week have a problem when it comes time to figure out their care over the Summer. If we can manage to prevent any overlap in our work schedules, we might not require any outside childcare. But many of us can't quite swing that.
Back when our own kids were both daycare or preschool age, this problem was quite manageable. Our preschool offered any combination of days over the Summer months, and there were perhaps 2 weeks the whole Summer when it was closed - easily covered by our prior daycare provider. I'm told that preschool and daycare schedules are not so flexible in other parts of the country (is this true?), so I consider us lucky.
But now, with M in Kindergarten, we can no longer blissfully sign up for 2 days per week of preschool over the Summer. Enter the concept of Summer Camp. Now when I grew up, "camp" was just an occasional bonus fun adventure. My mom worked an academic calendar and was home with my sister and me over the Summer, so we had no need for outside childcare. But for us, a minimal amount of care will be required.
Around here, part-time Summer camp is non-existent. It's either 5 days per week or none. And those 5 days are typically short ones - 8:30-3, 8:00-1, etc. How do working parents handle this? How do ESP parents who only need a few days each week do it? Do we pay for full time camp - missing out on the time with our kids that we value so highly and paying through the nose for this?
I have an idea. Actually, Marc has an idea that I really like. It is called Home Camp Swap, and we're busy thinking about how it could work for us for years to come. It goes like this: Find one or two like-minded couples who also work part-time and who have children that are friends with our children. Then, carefully arrange a swap system for the Summer months. Tuesday could be Vachon Camp. Wednesday could be Family X Camp, Thursday Family Y Camp. Lo and behold - the result would be a fun and bonding experience for our kids and for the couples involved, lots of time with our kids and kids we really care about, and negligible cost.
Of course, this would take a bit of arranging. How to transport all these kids to fun adventures like a hike or the beach? What if the host parent or kid is sick? What if the families have a falling out or don't hold up their end of the bargain? How to handle vacation weeks for each family? Enough to discourage the faint of heart. But this stuff is what discourages couples from trying ESP - all the communication needed to set it up and nurture it. We're up for that!
This Summer, which seems so very far away right now - but isn't, we're going to test the waters of Home Camp Swap. We don't yet know what Marc's work schedule will be, so it is hard to figure out any specifics now. And we do want to sign T up for our preschool Summer program so he stays connected with his friends there. But perhaps we'll try a few weeks of swapping, and find out what works and what doesn't. It's Summer Camp, ESP style!