It is coming. You cannot stop it. The summer vacation lull is here. The daily activities have stopped. Your children are draped over the couch, complaining that they are “so bored.” But we are only half-way there. So what is a parent to do? Summer camps can often be expensive. A vacation might not be in your plans. What if I told you about a better option? Your very own military installation!
Come check out a variety of activities on your military installation that are affordable and flexible.
Child Youth Services Summer CampEven if your child does not use daycare services on post, they can still attend the summer camps. As long as they are registered with the Child and Youth Services, you are eligible to take part in all their summer activities. I highly recommend being registered due to all the year-long activities but summer is where it is really key. Most are a week long and themed so you can pick and choose which camps to send your child to. The basic format is three days of activities, one day for a field trip, and usually a water play day. This is a perfect way to plan activities around any summer vacations you have. Since the camps are done on a weekly basis, you do not have to worry about spending money on a summer long camp if you know there will be days or weeks you cannot attend, they are also done using the childcare sliding scale so the camps are affordable for every rank.
Pool PassesSummer is the time for swimming! Your local Morale and Welfare office has pool passes available, so be sure to grab one for the family. It is easier on your budget to get the pass verses paying for each individual day. It is more affordable and since you have a pass, when the kids are bored, just load them up into the car and head out. Some installations even have pool parties, special events, and lock-ins for the older kids. Additionally, if your child needs swim lessons, the on post pool has those options available.
If paid activities are not in your budget this summer, do not worry there are free activities to take part in too!
Story Time at the LibrarySchool is out but that does not mean learning should stop. Your post library is perfect for encouraging learning. All you need is your DoD ID and you can check out books, audiobooks and DVDs. And since most post libraries have a weekly story time, it is the perfect excuse to go and listen to a story.
Once the reading is over, there is usually a craft or another type of activity and discussion period as a check on reading and to help your children think about what they just learned. After story time is over, pick out some new books for the week. Every week, you can return the books and attend the next story time and get new books.
Many libraries have themed reading weeks and have reading lists posted as a challenge for the middle school and high school crowd. This is a great way to encourage reading and cement the daily habit of reading – even when school is out.
Don't have a local library summer reading program or just like things online better? Join this first-ever DoD virtual reading challenge.
Vacation Bible SchoolEvery single post I have ever been to has offered a week of free Vacation Bible School. It is summer camp with a splash of Jesus. As a non-denominational Christian-based camp, it is perfect for introducing your children to Jesus without having your kids be “bored” in a traditional church setting. They do traditional camp activities like arts and crafts, stories, and some kind of physical game, and incorporate the Scriptures into learning and playtime. If your child is getting ready to start Sunday School, this is a great introduction. If they are already in Sunday School, this is a way to keep up their religious education in the summer months.
Parks, Parks EverywhereOf course nothing beats a park. There has been a push in recent years to improve outdoor areas on military installations so I am confident there are parks for your children to enjoy. Every neighborhood has one (or two if it is big enough!) and then in public spaces, they have been installing some really amazing play spaces. Switching up your park routine will keep boredom from taking over your playtime routine and will encourage more imaginative play since their environment will continually be changing.
These five ideas are just a few of the many ways to use the assets offered by your military installation. The more you take advantage of them, the more money your garrison will get in the future for more programs so not only would you be entertaining your children and keeping yourself sane through the summer months, you are making an investment in your installation’s future.