Making Your Kids' Summer Safe, Spectacular School's out for summer! But parents can find that the summer brings headaches, as well as joys. What do you do if you're working full-time and your kids are young? What if you don't have a lot of money for fancy summer camps?

Making Your Kids' Summer Safe, Spectacular

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This is News & Notes, I'm Farai Chideya. No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks. Do you remember that ode to the start of summer? Well, kids are running for the parks, the pools and video games now that schools are wrapping up. But parents can find that the summer brings headaches as well as joys. What do you do if you're working full-time and your kids are young? And what if you don't have a lot of money for fancy summer camps? Carol Brunson Day is president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute. She's got some tips for us. Hi, Carol.

Carol, let's break down what parents are facing. If you are a working parent how can you go about find the right camp or summer program for your kid? I mean, it's a situation where many times - and I'll just tell a story from myself. I grew up in Baltimore and absolutely loved it. I grew up on a street where there was - it was perfectly safe to ride your bike and all that, but there weren't a lot of kids around. So what I found happening was that I would be out on my bike with my sister. We didn't have a lot of people who were around as kids and so we went to summer camps and we relied a lot of times on the free or reduced summer camps. So first of all, Carol, how are things going in terms of there being free or reduced summer camps?

Ms. CAROL BRUNSON DAY (President and CEO, National Black Child Development Institute): I think that the situation probably varies from city to city. But there are many opportunities for free and reduced summer camp activities through organizations like the YMCAs, YWCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc. Boys and Girls Club, I'm sorry.

CHIDEYA: So how do parents go about finding out about programs that aren't going to break the bank?

Ms. BRUNSON DAY: I think parents can make inquires at the school where their child attends. That would be my first suggestion. Usually, school systems are well aware of the fact that children of course are out during the summer and they are interested in children being involved in productive and safe activities during the summer. So they often will have information for parents, particularly about municipal services that offer camps and fun and educational experiences during the summer. I think also the television and radio are opportunities for parents to find out about activates just keeping their eyes open and watching what's being advertised.

Sometimes, other media forms also provide information. Billboards on buses and in areas, you know, that the public often attends. Posters, for example, that may be obvious in city hall and other kinds of public places. And I would say newspapers are another source of information about summer events available for children.

CHIDEYA: Let me turn to the issue, Carol, of two different scenarios. One is you're working during the summer as a parent. The other one is that you're home. So let's start with some of the stay-at-home parents. It might be easier to say, OK, my schedule's flexible, but they might also drive you crazy. So what kind of plans can you make to keep everybody happy?

Ms. BRUNSON DAY: Well I think stay-at-home parents may have an opportunity or an advantage if you will in that their time is more available to their children. But I think the important thing to remember about summer is we know that children lose a lot of the academic gains that they make during the school year during the summer if they are not engaged in activates that keep their minds active. So it's not just a question of driving parents crazy. Stay-at-home parent also need to be looking for productive activities for their children during the summer.

CHIDEYA: OK, if you're working, say that you have found a situation for your kid that you feel is helping but then someone calls and says, I'm sorry your child is sick we can't keep sick children here. What kind of backup plans do you need?

Ms. BRUNSON DAY: Well, I think the backup plans one needs during the summer are the same as backup plans one needs during the year. Somebody is going to have to stay home with a sick child, particularly if the child is, you know, spreading the disease or illness that he or she has. And so there are babysitters. There are often over the summer there are families, other family members, teenagers and or young adults, teenagers particularly who would normally be in school but are available during the summer.

CHIDEYA: but what about teens, because, you know, teens are at this age where you can leave them by themselves but you may not always like what they are doing. How do you deal with that?

Ms. BRUNSON DAY: Well, teens need productive activities scheduled for them during the summer just like younger children. I think that they of course will want more autonomy and should participate in the planning of events. But I strongly recommend that parents sit down with their teens and make plans for how they will spend their time during the summer.

CHIDEYA: What about jobs? Is there, you know, it's a tight economy. What if a teen was counting on getting a job and they are finding it harder than they thought? How do you deal with that disappointment and maybe steer them in other directions?

Ms. BRUNSON DAY: Well, I think teens can be encouraged to look at volunteer activities, even if they don't pay a salary, because those require the same kinds of commitments. They require responsibility and accountability. And they are opportunities for teens to learn skills, acquire skills and or pursue areas of interest that they may well have. So they can be really a suitable substitute if you will, for employment.

CHIDEYA: Well Carol, great to talk to you, thanks. Carol Brunson Day is the president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute.

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