Start your own summer camp for kids, and earn some extra money this summer, while having lots of fun! Here’s how to host your own in-home summer camp!
This summer, my friend Hillary decided that she wanted to entertain her three young ones, AND make some money at the same time. So she called on her early education background (and experience as a cool mom!) and started her very own summer camp! I was so impressed with what she did that I asked her to share on my blog, so the rest of this post is Hillary, telling you how she put together and ran her summer camp, so you can too!
Don’t miss the awesome freebies we’ve included below that will help you get your own camp started!
Start Your Own Summer Camp
Like many of you moms out there, I was struggling to find activities for my kids to do this summer to fight “the bored.” I started looking at different camps and activities for both of my kids to do and realized how expensive each activity was going to be.
If I signed up my kids for basketball, dance, baseball, gymnastics, swim, or whatever camp, I was going to be spending over $100 each week!
I realized that wasn’t going to happen and started thinking about what activities I could do with my kids instead. After a lot of planning I decided it would be a lot easier to plan activities for 10-12 kids than just my two AND I could make some extra money too. No brainer, right?!
The first thing you need to do is decide when you’ll have your camp. How many weeks, how many days and which days of the week. Families often travel on Fridays and Mondays, so you may want to avoid them. I decided to do four weeks (a different theme each week, and kids could choose which weeks they wanted), three days a week.
You also need to be mindful of what time you schedule camp. I wanted to avoid lunchtime so we decided to pick 10am-12pm. I originally thought that since it was only two hours long that kids wouldn’t need a snack. Ha! I was totally wrong! Snacks are necessary. Once kids get hungry behavior starts to be an issue, so make sure to plan on a snack time.
The next thing I did was pick themes for each week. I decided to have a science week, art week, sports week, and theatre week. I should have moved sports camp earlier into the summer camp schedule. I didn’t think about the weather in Arizona when I planned the weeks. During sports week, we had a heat wave hit Arizona! Whew, don’t forget to have some “plan B” activities ready to go!
So here is how I named and described my themes (click for a detailed description of all the activities we did!):
The Great Science Escape– This week focuses on science experiments through interactive learning, creating, and lots of fun!
Artists Wanted– Time to get your hands messy and make some arts and crafts!
All-Star Sports Week– Time to get active! We will play all kinds of sports and other games, including a water day!
Curtain Call Theatre Camp– We will be creating a play and acting out songs and dance.
Ages and Number of Campers
You’ll need to set an age range for your camp, as well as a maximum number of participants. I have a 5 and a 9 year old, so we went with a camp focusing on children ages 5-10. Narrowing your age range makes planning much easier, and it makes camp go a lot smoother. If you want, you could even do a younger age range in the morning, and a second session for older kids in the afternoon!
Also, decide how many kids you will take. I capped mine at 12 spots.
Finally, you need to decide on your price. Don’t forget, you want to beat out all the other expensive summer activities, while still making it worth your time! I charged $40 per week for camp and offered a sibling discount. The first child was $40 and the sibling was $30. I thought this would help out the parents who had multiple kids who would want to attend.
Okay, now that you have all of your initial planning done, it’s time to market your camp and get kids signed up!
After the dates, times, weeks, and themes were decided, I made a flyer. There are tons of different apps that you can use that are super simple. You can make a cute picture flyer and print it out at Costco or somewhere else that prints pictures. Make sure to include your contact information!
I also posted the flyer on Facebook and Instagram. I posted the picture not only on my Facebook page, but also community groups. I belong to a church group and a neighborhood moms group. I promoted in both groups, and I posted again each week for the different themes.
For example, at the end of science week I would post if I had any spots available for art week. Don’t worry if you’re not full the week before- a lot of people will join at the last minute! I had several texts Sunday nights and Monday mornings asking if I still had spots available.
Another thing I did that made people want to sign up was I posted pictures of the activities we did each day. I would take pictures of all the activities the kids were doing and I would post them on Facebook and Instagram to show parents how much fun their kiddos were having at camp.
I also texted parents pictures of their kids after camp so they could post them as well. Word of mouth is huge! Parents who come to your camps are your best friends! I had one parent love it so much she brought three of her friends’ kids the next week. Some weeks are busier than others, so don’t get discouraged. I had two weeks cap out at 12 kids, and one week I only had 8 kids. That’s ok!
Summer Camp Forms and Documents
When parents indicated interest in the camp, I sent them the registration packet which included a welcome/information letter, an emergency contact/health information form, a liability waiver, and a photo release form.
It’s always better to be prepared. I made sure each child had an emergency information form just in case. I also had each parent sign a liability waiver and a photo release form. The liability waiver was basically a “do not sue me” form. The photo release form allowed me to take pictures of the kids and allowed me to post them on different social medias. It is always better to have the forms in place ahead of time than to try and backtrack after something happens. Protect yourself.
Don’t let this scare you though! I didn’t have any issues this summer. I also included a parent letter in my registration packet. It told the parents how to drop off and pick up their children each day as well as what the kids need to bring. During sports week, I asked the kids to come with sunscreen already on. I also asked kids to bring water each week.
Not sure how to create your own? No problem, I’ll send you mine! Just click and I’ll send you copies of my Summer Camp Registration Forms, which you can edit and customize for your own camp.
With your plans in place and your campers registered, it’s time to finish planning your activities, gather your materials, and get ready for fun!
I had parents sign all forms and turn in payments the Friday before camp started the next week. This was a great way for me not to have to invest in camp but be cash positive from the beginning. I would shop for supplies over the weekend, and that way I knew exactly how much of everything I needed.
I tried to stay under $100 in cost for each week. I accomplished that every week except sports week went a little bit over.
Here is the timeline I followed and suggest:
3 weeks before camp: Make your flyers and start promoting. Post on social media and print them and hand them out. You could do this at preschool, school, wherever there are moms and kids you know.
2 weeks before camp: Get your forms together and have packets ready for parents to sign. I had some packets I kept in a folder under my doormat for parents who wanted to stop by when I wasn’t home. I also emailed parents copies they could print off themselves. As soon as they turn in forms and payment, they’re officially signed up for camp!
1 week before camp: Lesson plan for the following week. Pinterest is your best friend, if you need ideas! Sometimes I would use someone else’s idea and other times just looking at the stuff got my own ideas flowing. The Friday before camp I always had my lessons plans done.
Saturday before camp: Go shopping!!! Walmart and the Dollar Store are the best places for shopping. The best part is if you have the parents pay you by Friday, this won’t cost you any money out of pocket!
This is the best thing you can do with your kids this summer because not only will you save money, but you will make some money and your kids will think you are a rock star! They might also love helping you to prepare and being the “activity experts” at camp.
You can do it!