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Choosing Your "Camp Mom" Companions

Five things to consider when inviting families to "Camp Mom"

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Parents and kids participate together at my version of "Camp Mom." That means you have to find folks who will be compatible with both your child and yourself. Before you extend that invitation, take these five things into consideration.

1. A Friend for Your Child

Since you get to determine who comes to "Camp Mom," there's no reason to allow anyone in who won't get along with your child. That's one of the great things about this do-it-yourself day camp -- you don't have to worry about kids who'll clash with yours ruining the experience. It's also a great way to engineer a friendship that will last long after the summer is over. Pick children who are well-matched with your child in terms of development, temperament, and sensory issues. Try a playdate first to see if the kids hit it off. Kids your child has known for a while, maybe through a number of years as school classmates, are probably the best bet.

2. A Friend for You

Since you ought to be more flexible than your child, finding the right kids is more important than finding ideal adults. That doesn't mean a good match between moms is not important. Kids sense stress and behave badly in its wake, so tension between yourself and your fellow "councilors" will only mean trouble for all concerned. You don't have to be best buds with the other parents, but you have to be able to work together, cooperate, agree on plans, and spend lots of time together. Choose with care.

3. Scheduling

The idea behind this kind of "Camp Mom" is for all the moms (or parents) to be present and accounted for, every day, all in for a full and participatory day with their kidlets. The idea is not for one mom to get saddled with day-care duties. Make sure that the families you're inviting in understand that, and can follow through on good intentions. Jobs, responsibilities to other siblings, multiple appointments, and other day interruptions are a significant problem that they should send you looking for participants elsewhere. Perhaps these campers can join you for field trips or weekly special events when time allows.

4. Transportation

Does everyone have wheels? If one parent winds up being the bus driver, picking up and dropping off and piloting every field trip and outing, the strain may skewer the camp experience for that parent even if everyone's cooperative about paying for gas. Ideally, all families will be able to get to the campsite under their own steam, and take turns in driving to outings. If not, make sure the pluses of that particular grouping outweigh the minuses.

5. Location

Your aim is to build friendships over a summer that your child can then carry through during the school year. Having campers come from outside the immediate community or school area thwart that. One camper from afar can be okay, but make sure there's at least one camp family that your child will be able to interact with once "Camp Mom" is over.

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