A couple weeks ago, I mentioned to my my big kids that they could probably run a fun little day-camp for the little kids in the neighborhood for a few mornings and make some extra money. I told the kids that if they wanted to do a camp, I'd be happy to give them ideas and help a little when they asked but it would have to be entirely up to them.
They took the idea and ran with it.They made fliers (and asked me to look it over - I just had a couple format and content ideas), took them to families in the neighborhood with little kids (they came up with some ideas and asked me who else I'd recommend), managed registrations, had serious meetings to plan out how they'd divide the kids into groups and work the rotations and schedule activities (with a few suggestions from me about how long they might want to allot for different activities - they thought some things would take a lot longer than I knew they really would - but I let them learn some things through trial and error...), planned out a snack menu, put together a supply list of what they'd need and set up a time when I could take them to the store to get supplies and promptly reimbursed me.
Here's a screenshot of the spreadsheet they made with the schedule and activities and names and ages of the kids who registered. I don't know what some of those initials are for in the outside games - but they do - so it's all good. I do know that "MTH" stands for "Magic Tree House" books. It was so fun to see them discuss and plan games, books, and activities - and see that apparently a lot of the stuff I've done with them over the years was meaningful and fun enough that they remembered it and wanted to replicate it.
So for three mornings this week, we've had 14 little kids ages 3-7 at our house doing crafts (Eliza's specialty), outdoor games (Isaac's specialty) and magic and science (Ashton's specialty), snacks, story time, and free play time. And listening to my big kids present great activities to the little kids in cute sing-songy voices and throw out lots of encouragement and shower love and attention on their little charges and help them work through the little issues that arose has been priceless!
Here's their first meeting when they went over the schedule and rules of the camp with all the kids. The big kids had each group come up with a fun name for their group. They ended up with the "butterflies" (the youngest kids), the "panda bears" (the 5 year olds), and the "cheetah's" (the 6-7 year olds).
I caught some good moments on film but wish I'd been ready with the video at some of the greatest moments when my big kids were explaining and helping the little kids in such a cute way and when the little kids were looking so adoringly at my big kids.
Here's a little video of the teachers getting everyone organized on the first day:
Here's Eliza with an arts and crafts group (they did bendaroos, pipe cleaners, paper airplanes, moon sand, sketching, painting, origami, you name it).
Here's Isaac getting the kids going on outdoor games:
Here's Ashton doing magic and science (he taught them simple magic tricks - he's SO into magic - and he did fun science like making goo and doing fun stuff with vinegar and baking soda.
Here are the kids enjoying their snacks out on the lawn - one of the leaders prepped the snacks each day while the other two supervised free-play time. (Yes, we need a new fence. We're working on it...)
And here's their final water party:
Here are all the kids just before pickup today, the final day of the camp. The top row are the "camp counselors" - Ashton, Isaac and Eliza plus some friends who wanted to help out with the extra-special activities on the last day (water play, mini-pizzas, making "goo," painting - things that could use the help of extra counselors).
You see, one of my big goals as a mom is to prepare my kids to be great moms and dads one day (maybe they won't get the chance - I know that's not in the cards for everyone - but I'd like them to really "get" little kids one way or another). So seeing my kids doing such a great job with these little kids gives me the sense that my goal is coming along pretty nicely. You don't get a ton of opportunities as a mom to see in a concrete way that you're meeting your goals as a mom, so you've got to cherish those you get!