Oswego Playschool is a parent cooperative located in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Oswego has been offering summer camps for as long as anyone there can remember - that adds up to a pretty long time since the school has been around since 1953! Some years went without camps due to parent interest, but overall the summer camp program has been a consistent tradition for at least the last decade.
The fun th
g about camps at Oswego is that they change from year to year depending on the parents and their
expertise. Camp Run-a-Muck has been a favorite for years, hosted by Tots Teacher, Phoebe Fillmore. But
in the past Oswego has also had Spanish camp and all variations of crafty camps.
The initial summer program idea was to host a "Ge
tting to Know You" camp in August for families new to Oswego Playschool. That camp was so much fun that it made sense to open up the school earlier in the summer for other camp programs.
Oswego is unique comp
ared with many PCPO sister schools in that they own their building and are not leasing from a church or other community space. This allows them the opportunity to make a little extra income over the summer by offering camps. Otherwise, the space would just sit vacant for the summer break.
Making it Work
Oswego's tots teacher, Phoebe, hosts a few camps over the summer
. Her Camp Run-a-Muck is one of their most popular and longest running camps over the last seven years; it has a camping theme to it. She also hosted a Fairy Garden Camp this summer that was so popular, she had to host a second!
Oswego's regular preschool teacher, Teenie MacLeod, typically hosts the Getting to Know You Camp in August.
A really exciting twist to Oswego's summer program is that any interested parents can offer a camp to members. This summer, for example, the school has two dads who partnered-up to offer a Super Hero Camp, and two moms who are working together to put on a Craft and Cooking Camp. Last year an ESL family offered a Spanish Camp and another family offered a Cultures of the World camp. The opportunities are endless because the inspiration comes from their members!
To make it work, parent leaders are paid for teaching the camps. After reimbursement for supplies, it typically averages out so that the parents receive half the profits from camp tuition and the preschool benefits from the other half.
Camp Is A Cooperative Effort
Oswego operates camps cooperatively much like their year round program. P
arents who sign their child up for a camp are expected to parent help for one day of camp. Camps are capped at 10 kids, which creates a more laid-back environment as compared with the school year.
Camps at Oswego are attended only by preschool members (incoming tots families are not eligible), but they can be both incoming
and outgoing members. Therefore, some summer camps will have incoming 3 year olds mixed with soon-to-be Kindergartners, which makes for a fun and diverse mix of campers.
Many thanks to Lisa Decker for contributing to this article!