Saturday, June 8, 2013

Camp Debsters - Summer Fun with Girls

I recently saw this post by We Are That Family for a list of things to do with kids over the summer. Reading through the list reminded me of the several summers I spent during my high school years babysitting/nannying/running a mini day camp for twin sisters.

That was about ten years ago, before iProducts, Pinterest, and blogs. I came up with all our daily activities, and since I was too young to drive, "Camp Debsters" took place in one of the classrooms at the private school where our moms worked.

This is sweet summer Daisy, who is not relevant to this post, except that she's adorable. She's too young for these fun ideas, but eventually this list will apply to her.  

Here's my list of activities to entertain grade school-aged girls:

1. Read a book series out loud. We read aloud all Gail Carson Levine's princess tales one summer.

2. Create a mural. We drew a giant castle with lots of windows for a fairy tale themed mural. As we read through each princess tale book, we added the characters to the mural.

3. Tea parties.

4. Movie afternoon. We watched one Disney movie on Friday afternoons. I know what it's like to babysit (or now parent) for long days, and 90 minutes seems WAY too short. Plus, I'm pretty sure we only watched a movie on Fridays.

5. Easy bake oven. If you're at home, then regular baking!

6. School. We did a little bit of school each day, so they wouldn't forget everything they learned over the summer. We had access to giant chalkboards, which makes schoolwork more fun and they could play teacher. The modern equivalent would be chalkboard paint or dry erase boards, I guess.

7. Paper dolls. We created several dolls from scratch (I drew a body on a manila folder and cut it out), then created hairstyles and outfits for them out of construction paper.

8. Beanie Babies. I know kids aren't into beanie babies anymore, but we played for hours with beanie babies, making up stories about their lives. That's good old-fashioned imagination playing, which can be done with any medium of toy.

9. Dance parties. Need I say more?

10. Telephone story writing. Each person starts writing a story on their own page. After a small amount of time, everyone switches pages, but continues their story on the new person's page. Switch several times, and at the end, each story is mixed up and silly.

11. Hide and Seek.

12. Movie-making. We took our favorite princess tales, created scripts, gathered costumes/props/sets, filmed, and did minor film editing, all with an old-fashioned cassette camcorder. This could be a week-long project if your kids are into it.

Screenshots from one of our movies on June 22, 2000. 


13. Outside sports. This was not my favorite thing to do, especially in Florida, but we did it a little bit. We might have even played with a garden hose/sprinkler a little bit too.

14. Board games.

15. Drawing and coloring.

[UPDATE: My sister Lydia (pictured in our video screen shots) remembered some more and added them in the comments. I'll add them to the official list too!]

16. Hot and Cold game. One person hides toys (we used beanie babies), while the others are outside the room. Then you help them find the toys by saying, "Warmer" or "Colder" as they get closer or farther from the toy.

17. Build a fort!

18. Collages from magazine pictures. I can't believe I forgot this one! Make simple themed collages like "My favorite things." Or you can get more complex by finding different colors to create your own images (like for a daisy, find several bits of green to make a stem, several bits of yellow for a center and bits of white for the petals). So fun!



There could be more things we did, but that's all I can remember from 10 years ago. We did Camp Debsters for something like four summers in a row.

I came up with all the ideas based on things my sisters and I did when we were little. I'm a creative person, so most of my ideas involved creating. I'm sure I bombed on a lot of my ideas for crafts and projects, but the girls were always gracious, and they seemed to love it all.

If you're a mom or are nannying little girls this summer, I hope these ideas are useful! I have great memories of those Camp Debsters days, and I think Mary Beth and Victoria do too!

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