These Moms Created a Neighborhood Camp (And So Can You!)

Hi Readers! Here’s a letter about a homemade camp started by two moms that just may inspire you —  the same way THEY got inspired last year, thanks to ideas being spread by Mike Lanza of Playborhood. (Here’s a cool post by him of how he turned his front yard into a neighborhood hangout.) If you start a camp, let us know! L. 
Dear Free-Range Kids: I wanted to let you know that you, Mike Lanza, and the Camp Iris Way creators inspired me and a fellow mom, Karen Hoffman, to start out own neighborhood camp.  The first annual “Montara Street Camp” happened last week and was a huge success!  Not only did the campers, counselors, families and neighbors love it, but Karen and I had so much fun running it.  Of all the volunteer efforts I’ve been part of as a stay-at-home mom, this one was the most rewarding and fun.
We modeled our camp after Camp Iris Way, and actually were in contact with Iris Way founder Diana Nemet [see below] when we were having difficulties getting our permit.  Since this was a new concept for the police and city, there were various concerns and hurdles.  However, the permit was ultimately granted and we had so much fun holding the camp in the street.  As a result of our camp, the neighborhood definitely feels closer.  Campers and counselors formed a special bond and new friendships were made.  One of my favorite parts of camp was it pushed parents to let kids walk and ride bikes by themselves, many for the first time.  I just loved watching everyone walk to camp.
Here are links to the two local articles: HMB Review and  HMB Patch.  We made the front page of our local newspaper and have received lots of positive responses from people in town.  We are looking forward to running it again next year and hope it becomes an ongoing part of our little coastal community.  Again, thanks for being such a great inspiration!  My husband got so sick of hearing me quote your book after I read it last year.  I couldn’t help it!  – Sarah Bunkin

The Montara Sreet campers
And here’s a note from Diana Nemet, who started a neighborhood camp last year:
Thrilled to learn of the success of  Montara Street Camp–it’s absolutely wonderful! Reading about it brought back memories of the first year we ran Camp Iris Way. It’s definitely an incredible community-building accomplishment and I’m sure that the kids will enjoy each others company a lot more this summer than they had in the past!
We had 73 kids attend Camp Iris Way this summer. Neighbors are still astonished that we have this many kids living just on Iris and Primrose Ways. I suspect you’ll see the numbers jump for next year’s Montara Street Camp. Our neighbors actually schedule their vacations around CIW now so that they don’t miss it! 🙂
I suspect it might be valuable to include another link to the workplan and templates that we provided in last summer’s post. Congratulations Sarah and Karen! I’m delighted to learn of the fun you had, and agree that it’s one of the most rewarding contributions to my community that I’ve ever made.  Best,  Diana Nemet

9 Responses

  1. Inspired, most likely, by The Baby-Sitters Club, I held a mini-camp similar to this when I was about 16. There were only 4 or 5 kids (and some older kid helpers), but it was a fun little adventure. I’ve also heard it suggested that moms/older sibs/baby-sitters hold mini-camps where they rotate who hosts – one on Monday, one on Tuesday, etc., much like a small playgroup.

  2. wow! That’s how you do it 🙂

  3. It’s wonderful how neighborhood summer camps are sprouting and sharing knowledge. Three years ago, after I ran my first one (this year was my fourth!), Diana Nemet and Jennifer Antonow contacted me to discuss their ideas for starting Camp Iris Way. Sarah Bunkin read my profile of Camp Iris Way on to get inspiration for her Montara Street Camp. (Since then, I’ve published a book with a chapter on Camp Iris Way – “Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Place for Play.”) Next week, Sarah will visit my yard and ‘hood so we can exchange more ideas.

    Many others have read about us and gotten inspiration to start their neighborhood summer camps.

    Are you ready to start your neighborhood summer camp?

  4. Cool idea. I’m potentially going to be working at a similarly “homemade” music camp this summer, except it’s going to be held at a church instead of in a private home.

  5. Even if you don’t want to organize a full-on camp, you can organize kids into an activity. I wrote an article a couple of years ago for the paper I used to work for about a woman who got the kids in her area to do a bottle and can drive for an animal rescue. You can read it here, if you like:

  6. Reblogged this on TOT MOB and commented:

  7. […] Over at Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids, she shares the story about a couple of moms that created a successful camp in the streets and homes of their neighborhood. It’s a great idea, and I hope to see more people (including churches) organize similar […]

  8. […] a link from Free Range Kids about how moms created their own neighborhood camp. Sounds super-awesome, but I’m hoping that someone else in my neighborhood will do this and […]

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