Moms Host Rotating Camp at Home to Help Kids Beat Summer Doldrums

Two big black mutts are tied up in the Blumentals' yard, and they greet visitors with raucous barking. Yesterday, when the eight 6- to 7-year-old girls there had finished making their mobiles, Racheli Blumental, the mother, suggested they have "free time." Noam, her daughter, suggested with a wink, "We could do the Get Used To Workshop" - where the loud dogs get used to the girls, and vice versa.

Noam and her younger sister, Inbar, are campers in a unique day camp. Their mother is one of seven mothers from Karkur's Shvilim Democratic School who have agreed to host the group in rotation at their homes, planning various activities such as a swim in a backyard pool, a food coloring "eruption" from paper mache volcanos, Indian day, and a drama and song day.

"August is problematic. Day camps have ended, and a three-week camp costs NIS 900 anyway," Racheli Blumental explains. "Due to both money and friendship, we decided to do this as a group of seven moms. Each takes one vacation day from work."

Over the course of the two-week camp, each mother hosts the girls for two days.

"It's not babysitting, it's more than just meeting their basic needs and making sure nothing happens to them. The idea is to make it interesting," Racheli says. The cost to each mother is marginal.

The girls arrive every morning at 9 A.M., eat breakfast and start their arts and crafts for the day. They then are free to choose another activity until lunch. The mother-daughter hosts plan the activities together, which causes great excitement for the children. Yesterday Noam explained the craft activity to her fellow campers.

The girls also participated in three weeks of day camp at the local community center, but they all say the home day camp is more fun.

"Every day we visit the home of a different friend and have a good time together," explains one girl, Carmel. Her friend Maya says the atmosphere at the home camp is nicer.

"Here the counselor is a friend's mom, they are just way nicer than the camp counselors," Maya adds.

Racheli doesn't feel it's a burden.

"I can put effort into doing things with the girls I've wanted to do for a long time," she says. "It's a good solution, you know exactly where your kids are, it's cheap and it gives the kids a change.