FARMINGTON / HILLS – Summer for area kids this year can be a little less exciting than it has been in the past.
With summer camps canceled until June and only working with limited capacity from July to August, the possibility for many children in the community to attend the camp was thrown out of the window when COVID-19 arrived .
Farmington Youth Assistance wanted to change that, so they packed a bunch of toys, games and supplies and boxed camp this year for the kids to play at home.
“The kids were kind of trapped in the house,” said Sunday Taylor, past president of Farmington Youth Assistance. “They weren’t shopping. They weren’t going to school. They didn’t see their friends. We really wanted to support families by providing opportunities for them to connect and play together.
Taylor added that as many parents have “used their bag of tricks,” the camp-in-a-box program would hopefully provide parents with a way to entertain, engage and educate their children.
Farmington’s parent, Jessica Erickson, said the program did just that for her family.
“It gave us something new and different to focus on and do together, other than chores or errands or things that felt forced. It’s so much more fun and out of the box, because I’m out of ideas on how to keep these guys engaged and get things done, ”she said of her two boys, Alexander, 8, and Cameron, 6. nice to have and to have structured it. … It definitely forced us to do things we wouldn’t have done.
“I didn’t know all the fun things you could do with a pool noodle,” she said with a laugh.
With two girls in college planning to go to summer camps, plus his two boys, Erickson was already looking for something for his children to do to fill the void.
“It’s been amazing and a blessing because with online school and everything the kids are spending way too much time on screens. It’s good to give them something fun to look forward to that doesn’t involve sitting on a screen. They had a great time with it, ”she said.
The camp boxes were collected by the families on the morning of July 13. Taylor said about 100 families participated in the program in its inaugural year, which equates to about 180 children. There were still six families on a waiting list to receive their camp boxes at press time. Camp boxes cost $ 25.
The camp boxes were meant to reflect the equivalent of four weeks of day camp activities and included four or five activities per day. The activities corresponded to the theme of each week – the first week was Explorers’ Week; the second week was space week; week three was a wacky week for the Olympics; and the fourth week was Travelers’ Week. The activity instructions have been provided in an online format as well as in print.
“My favorite activity is these luminescent wiffle balls. You put glow sticks in wiffle balls, and there’s games around that, ”Taylor said.
Erickson said the “Minute to Win It” style games, based on the popular game show, as well as some gymnastics activities filled in the gaps in what his sons would have learned from the camp activities. Only one activity so far – flag design – Erickson’s family has skipped, because her sons weren’t very interested in it, she said.
While Taylor said supplies are pretty much depleted for this year – she could perhaps take on five to ten more families, at most – Farmington Youth Assistance has considered bringing the program back next year, particularly with uncertainty due to COVID-19.
“It’s certainly not out of place, and I guess if we do that next year, we’ll add some campfire songs or something like that. Obviously, if we did that next year, we would be able to assess what we did this year and add or subtract as needed. … It depends on the response (this year), ”Taylor said, adding that the program has attracted several families who do not participate or do not normally use Farmington’s youth assistance programs.
Erickson believes the program should and could continue, even without a pandemic.
“Even with the unknown of everything, summer camp was never something in my budget with four kids. It’s totally doable, “she said.” I even gave a little extra money because there was so much time, effort and money invested. I believed that It was wonderful. I could definitely see this succeed in the years to come, even without a pandemic. “