(We’re Here to Help)
If necessity is the mother of invention, then parents with kids at home during COVID-19 are right up there with Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, and da Vinci.
As the old adage implies, we are forced to get creative when we run out of options. Almost any parent of school-aged children will agree: after two and a half months of quarantine, options are getting slim. Relieved to be done with a distance learning school year, families come face-to-face with a summer of limited travel, limited pool capacity, and not many summertime attractions reopening yet.
That’s where necessity and invention come in. Suddenly, families are exploring new parks that were here all along, but we never got around to checking out. We’re blowing up the inflatable pool, hauling out the sports gear, and unearthing other long-forgotten outdoor toys from cobwebbed corners of the garage. We’re revisiting family hobbies we just got too busy for, like fishing, camping, or kayaking (see our cover story this week).
Our kids are becoming more inventive by necessity, too: without amusement parks, plane rides, organized sports, malls, playgrounds, and indoor play spaces, having fun in the summer comes in a simpler form. It’s up to our kids to turn their long-forgotten toys into games. Jump rope limbo, anyone? How about putting on rain boots and splashing like crazy in that muddy puddle at the end of the street? Why not ride bikes through it, too? Sidewalk chalk quickly transforms a driveway or vacant parking lot into a baseball diamond. My young kids have turned out to be just as thrilled with these activities as the outings I would usually shuttle them to, like the zoo or the indoor trampoline park.
In a 15-house stretch of our townhouse community, there are four families with children around the same age. Pre-pandemic, we only greeted our neighbors from the driveway and chatted briefly before hurrying to our next commitment. Not anymore. With entire families home during the day, the kids emerge with scooters and bikes every afternoon, racing up and down our shared alleyway. The sound of neighbor children playing out back until dinnertime feels both wholesome and nostalgic.
Of course, parents and kids aren’t the only ones forced to get inventive: organizations and businesses that run summer camps have had to make tough decisions. In some cases, camps are modifying plans at the 11th hour to keep up with ever-changing county and state regulations. Others are closed altogether this year. Some families are still holding out hope that the camps they signed their kids up for will go on as planned. Others have already learned their camp of choice is canceled and are now considering outside-the-box options.
While Bay Weekly traditionally puts out a “Last Minute Camp Guide” issue just before school lets out, this year we’re adapting to the changeable nature of COVID-19 restrictions by launching an online camp resource. It’s a one-stop shop where we’re gathering in-person camp opportunities in Chesapeake country and updating them as more information comes in (bayweekly.com/camps). Consider this issue of Bay Weekly not as much a camp guide but as a survival guide to keeping kids engaged this summer.