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

The Prison of Fearful Parenting

Hi Readers — This comment, inspired by the previous post, gets to the heart of the matter for me: Connecting. Free-Range Kids is about giving kids freedom, of course, but delve a little deeper and it is about trust: Trusting our kids, our neighbors, ourselves. And the more we trust and connect, the more safe and powerful we are. The more we distrust and disconnect, the more we look to the fear-mongering marketplace or draconian laws or plain old demagogues to protect us. Personally, I prefer connecting. — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I love delving into the sociology of our collective hysteria about the dangers of current-day childhood.

I think in large part it is due to the death of community and interdependence brought on by wealth: a form of “affluenza.” …

These days, from birth on, your kid is yours, not the neighborhood’s. You live in near isolation in your little 4-bed, 2-bath prison and have to consciously ARRANGE interaction with other kids, sometimes weeks in advance.

Over time, since we don’t really know our neighbors and have so little shared history, we begin to buy into the media hype that there’s a serial killer on every corner and a molester in every bush.

There were bad actors back in the day; there are the same proportion of bad actors today. The only thing that has changed is our quality of life. It’s dismal, for now we are shackled together, parent and child, each of us growing more wary and less fulfilled by the minute.

I have to laugh about these affluence-driven, futile efforts to protect kids from each other and unforeseeable events. Wake up, people! The world might become really dangerous, on the level of boiling seas and unbreathable air and lack of foodstuffs. We may all be huddled together and interdependent again by necessity and not by choice. Then it will indeed seem outrageously silly that we ever had laws against leaving school-aged children unattended for half an hour.

For me, I am striving to equip myself and my kids with compassion. It seems to be a great gift in any circumstance, foreseen or not, and a return to interdependence is definitely on the horizon. Fear and judgement are always in long supply. Stock up on compassion now. — Mollie Kaye