Normally, this time of year is filled with summer camps and Vacation Bible Schools. Splashing in the lake. Making friendship bracelets. Learning Bible verses. Singing songs and roasting marshmallows around a campfire.
But things are different this summer. The coronavirus pandemic has canceled many camps and programs, leaving parents asking the question “What do we do now?”
Well, you’ve come to the right blog.
I remember my own VBS days. Everyone would bring pennies each day, and the staff would weigh them in two separate buckets to see which team brought the most — the girls or the boys. The money raised went to a great cause like missions or the church building fund.
Although you may not be packing up the car and driving your kids to a special program this summer, you can still get them involved in a meaningful cause like helping kids living in poverty. They’ll get the chance to make a difference for others … plus have tons of fun along the way!
Here are just a few ideas:
Make your own masks
Remember craft time? Here’s the perfect solution for the crafty kids in your life. If you have extra fabric lying around the house, help your kids create homemade masks. Not only will these be useful during the current pandemic, but your kids will love using colorful fabric to create their own custom creations. Bonus points if it includes a fun design or pattern!
The best part is, you don’t need to purchase elastic bands or any extra supplies. You probably have the items you need already! Click here for a simple guide to creating your own face masks.
When you’re finished, spend some time sharing with your kids how some children around the world can’t afford masks. They don’t even have materials to make them. This means they aren’t protected and are more at risk of catching the virus. By putting things into perspective, your kids will realize how blessed they really are.
Collect coins for a cause
Just like it was back in my day, collecting pennies is still a popular VBS activity that kids always enjoy. Even if your church’s VBS program is canceled this year, you can still carry on the tradition!
Many families have spare change scattered everywhere: On the kitchen counter. Between couch cushions. Even in the washing machine or dryer. So, why not put those coins to good use?
Round up your kids to participate in a “Coin Challenge” by giving them 10 minutes or so to search the entire house for loose change. When the allotted time is up, count each child’s findings to see who found the most. Afterward, consider donating that money to another child in need!
Set up a lemonade stand
Kids have been doing this for years. In fact, it almost seems like part of American culture. You can probably picture the image: A neighborhood with freshly manicured lawns and white picket fences. Children with bright, smiling faces sitting behind a wooden stand, offering cups of ice-cold lemonade. Cheerful neighbors holding their dogs’ leashes as they stop by.
But here’s how you can shake things up: Put up a sign announcing, “Free masks with every purchase!” As people stop by, offer them one of the colorful masks you and your children recently made together. You might even set out some hand sanitizer for paying customers to use.
Again, the money your kids raise can be put to good use by helping a child who is in desperate need of food, clean water, and other essentials.
Host an at-home summer camp
Why not bring summer camp to YOU this year? I know, it probably seems a little daunting at first glance. But have no fear. By keeping things simple, it’ll be stress-free for you and tons of fun for the kids.
Let’s start with the theme. Keep it international so it ties in with the needs of kids around the world. You can focus on either one country or a combination. Once you decide, collect some recipes and traditional games that are enjoyed in the countries you chose.
Need some examples to get you started?
• Piñatas, egg races, and soccer are popular games in Guatemala. These are perfect for getting outside and enjoying some fresh air. (Plus, kids love hitting piñatas!)
• Kudoda is a popular game in Zimbabwe. It’s fun and super easy — all you need is a bowl full of pebbles or marbles!
• Ensaymada is a Filipino sweet bread topped with cheese. Your kids will love this snack, and because it’s made with only a few ingredients, they can help out in the kitchen, too!
Playing traditional games and snacking on foods from other cultures is a fun way for your kids to learn about the lives of other children around the world. It also opens the door to talk about the needs those other children might have.
Boys and girls living in poverty have always needed essentials like food, clean water, clothing, and educational opportunities. And the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic has put those essentials even further out of reach for many kids and their families.
Some kids are fortunate enough to have child sponsors that provide them with these vital basic needs. But the problem is that since the coronavirus pandemic hit and the Children of the World choir — World Help’s main avenue for recruiting new sponsors — stopped touring, the number of new sponsorships is down 94 percent.
This summer, you and your kids can make it your mission to help out a child in need while he or she waits for a sponsor.
And with the ideas above, hopefully you’ll have a blast doing it!