Saturday, June 27, 2009

CSSS*: Week 1—Transportation Week

* Camp Stimey Saturday Summary!!

We had an unbelievably successful first week of Camp Stimey. It was amazing to me to see how adding some structured activities to the day resulted in so much less whining and so much more happy, quiet, cooperative playing when there was free time.

Wow. Active parenting. Who would have guessed it works?

See how happy they were on Day One?

Of course, this being Transportation Week, it was pretty easy to come up with fun activities (followed by much ice cream). Next week is Government/History Week. Submit your ideas now—I'm going to need them!

Here's the quick version; more dedicated readers can read the details at the bottom of the post:

Train Day:

Aviation Day:

Personal Grooming and House Kids' Bedroom Cleaning Day:

Boat Day:

Bus Day:

I won't be offended if you stop reading right here. This might be a long, photo-heavy post. (As if it's not already.)

Every camp day we start out with a circle time. I write out our agenda for the day so the little dudes know what to expect. Sometimes circle time involves reading stories and doing handwriting practice. Sometimes it is just a quick rundown of what we'll be doing that day.

Often times I save book work for our end of the day "Table Activities," the most important of which is writing about our favorite part of the day in our journals. (Quinn dictates to me and then scribbles while the others write and draw.)

Now for a quick (ha!) rundown of each day.

Day 1: Train Day!

We started with Train Day because who doesn't love trains? I read them books about trains and then we practiced writing the letter "T" and drawing trains. Even Quinn could draw a "T".

Our outing on Train Day was a trip to Wheaton Regional Park, where there is a miniature train ride and a carousel. Team Junior Stimey was suitably excited.

After the train we went on the carousel because a carousel transports people, even if only for short distances and in tiny circles.

Well, actually we went on it because, really? Was I going to tell my kids no? And I think you can look at Jack's face and tell me that I made the right decision.

We then went to the giant playground against all of my better judgment. There I turned into a stressed-out, yelling, hissing, overprotective mother. That playground is huge, spread-out, and has really bad sightlines so if one or, say, two of your children are unreliable wanderers, chances are really good that you might lose them periodically and freak out.

Or at least that is the case with me. We didn't stay long.

Day Two: Aviation Day!

Circle time on Aviation Day involved learning a little bit about airplanes using materials I found at the College Park Aviation Museum website. They have several kid-friendly activities available for free download. The best was paper airplanes.

Sam was able to make his own, Jack used my prototype, and Quinn got really, really angry that I was trying to force some crazy "working" airplane on him. Then he got crazy angry that his wadded up piece of paper self-made airplane wouldn't fly.

The frustration of not understanding proper aerodynamics was quickly forgotten once we got to the College Park Aviation Museum, which was our outing for the day. I don't think we have ever had a museum experience that went this smoothly.

It's one big room with good sightlines (Pay attention, Wheaton Regional!) so my guys could be in different places and I didn't lose anyone. There is so much for kids to do, and there are even goody bags when they leave.

There is a real airplane they can play in, there are pilot clothes to get dressed up in. There is a flight simulator for them to crash airplanes on....

Seriously. Happiness all around.

I'd brought a lunch to eat on the museum's outdoor eating balcony and then we played on the little wooden airplanes they have in the courtyard.

Day Three: Personal Grooming/House Cleaning Day!

Um. I took Sam to get his hair cut. I cut everyone's finger and toe nails. I groomed the dog. I cleaned my kids' room.


Day Four: Boat Day!

You want to know what is an awesome resource? Twitter. Wednesday night I asked Twitter where a good place to take my kids on a boat where they wouldn't drown was. And Twitter answered with a bunch of great suggestions. The winner came from @delowe who suggested Lake Needwood.

Lake Needwood is this huge lake in Rockville (Who knew?!) that has tons of fun activities. They have pedal boats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, a boat tour on weekends, fishing, and probably more.

Seeing as how my kids aren't always the calmest, we chose the pedal boats. (Good decision too; Jack kept insisting on trying to stand up: "No! I can balance!!!") We also dragged my Friend L along, sending her anxiety about her kids, a large body of water, and a small flotation device into high gear.

But it was a lot of fun.

They even have a scavenger hunt so your kids can be on the lookout for geese, frogs, turtles, snakes (scanning....scanning...), and more.

Sam, scavenging.

Here's a tip though: don't necessarily pick the hottest, uncloudiest day yet of the summer to go boating on a lake.

Day Five: Bus Day!

The whole point of making this week Transportation Week was because I knew we were going to have to go on a bus on Friday. I'm going to take pity on any of you who have read this far and not write anymore. I'll just point you to yesterday's post about about our bus trip.

And that was Camp Stimey Week One. Whew! Did it take you a whole week to read that? I apologize for always being so verbose. I'm aware that it's a problem I have. Sorry.


  1. You are an inspiration. I've got several years until I have to worry about summer activities, but I hope you'll continue Camp Stimey to inspire other moms.
    Left to my own devices, I'd probably just go to the pool every day. Seeing your great plans, I hope I can someday concoct such great activities that will both reinforce school lessons, yet still be lots of fun and explore the community around me!
    (Although, I'm a bit of a procrastinator, so I don't know if I could be as awesome as you with lesson plans and pre-planned activities!)
    You're my hero. And obviously, your kids hero too!
    I hope summer continues to be awesome! (well, more awesome than waiting for the bus)

  2. What an awesome week! Bad thing about living where we are is we don't have as many things like that to do. This week is busy with activities and the 4th but the next week will quiet down some, I'll have to come up with some plans. Great job!

  3. My kids are young yet for fully on Stimey-style camp in the summer, but I'm definitely stealing this idea in a few years.

    Govt & history: Field trip to Philly! (okay so I'm biased on that one)

  4. What an awesome week! The photo of Jack on the carousel is gorgeous. Such a great smile!

    Um, for Govt/History week, why not start at Natl Mus of Natural History and follow a quick but basic timeline of the development of the world. You could work in Govt. in the middle of the week by a trip to the Museum of American History and a trip to the Mall (um, as in Nat'l Mall, not shopping!) on the last day to see all the govt buildings ,etc.

    Just a thought.

  5. Yeah for Camp Stimey and a successful week 1!!

  6. You are a great mom - wish you were my parent growing up. My summer vacations consisted of my mother sending me and my sisters outside after lunch and telling us to come home at dark. Sigh.

  7. I want a do-over! I want my kids to be little again so I can totally copy Camp Stimey!

    Oh and - is Quinn wearing those goggles upside down?

  8. I love it! I'm the worst at finding resources for things to do in the area. So this is great information. Thanks!

  9. Dude, that was awesome! I love how carousel = transportation. *I* want to be a little kid again so I can join in. No, wait, can I just come anyway?

  10. Oh yeah - hate Wheaton Regional park. My kids always ask to go there and whenever I forget how much I hate it and take them, I also turn into a stressed-out, yelling, hissing, overprotective mother. I think by the time I feel comfortable there, my kids will be too old for playgrounds.

  11. it's hard to imagine a sight more pleasing than quinn with a serious look and a pair of up-side-down aviation goggles on.

    judging from the photo i would say the mode of transportation was ceramic zebra, not carosel.


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