School’s out for summer.

Frightening words, especially if you don’t have a plan for summer. Sure, vacations are a cornerstone, filled with excitement and adventure, but not many families can vacation all summer long. Camps can fill up in several weeks, and few encompass the entire break, leaving parents to figure out engaging and affordable options to keep their children safe. All while managing jobs and/or managing household obligations. What options are available for families?


Summer camps are a great way to build and maintain social interactions while honing leadership and interpersonal skills. From sports to the arts, camps abound. However, they can be costly and difficult to find at the last minute. Peruse our Camp Issue for ideas.

Serve as a camp counselor, mentor or tutor.

Instead of partaking in camps, high schoolers can mentor during the summer. This offers opportunities to develop and strengthen skills such as problem solving, project planning, conflict resolution and instructing teams and small groups. Camps are always in need of volunteers to assist and train for future sessions.

Offering tutoring services to younger children is another way to earn money while cultivating professional experience. Managing a calendar, planning lessons and practicing supportive and succinct communication are fundamental competencies in many arenas. Setting up payment terms and balancing their time are key nuances that lay the foundation for entrepreneurship. All of these skills will continue to be honed in high school, college and beyond.

Family Nanny or Sitter.

Though the terms are interchanged, there is a difference between nannies and babysitters. A nanny is a more tenured, longer-term commitment between employer and nanny. Nannies often have advanced training and credentials. They tend to support children in a more in-depth capacity, from helping with schoolwork to preparing meals to transporting them to activities; they serve as an extension of the parents. Babysitters are used on occasion or on a more infrequent basis and may not have advanced training.

Family nannies can be a fantastic support but often come with a hefty price tag. estimates rates can range from $13.25 to $19.50 or more, depending on where you live and the demand. Locally, the St. Augustine location of Twinkle Toes shares services begin at $19.50 per hour for one child and adds a dollar per hour for each additional child. Registration and joining fees are common for online platforms. However, these fees are one-time and cover background checks, driving records and criminal records, etc.

Organizations like College Nannies and Sitters are another option that serves the Northeast Florida area. In addition to childcare, they also provide tutoring services.

Nanny or Sitter Share.

Similar to the aforementioned section, but shared with a group of people. This ensures social interaction with a consistent supervisor. It saves parents money in the long run while the nanny can make slightly more with a larger group of kids.

Whether you’re employing a nanny personally or engaging in a shared situation, there are certain dynamics that need to be addressed prior to committing.

Communication. Clear and concise group communication is a must for a share to be successful. Everyone must be specific about vacation days, changes in schedule, availability for the summer and if fewer children means less money for the care provider.

Payment. Agencies often handle the payment. If you are contracting with an independent caregiver, be sure to provide a W-2 or 1099 and discuss tax deductions. Consult a tax professional for advice on this.

A clear breakdown of payment when and how much per child must be laid out with the childcare provider.

Plan. Also of importance, a contingency plan if the sitter is sick or has an emergency, time off or vacation time should be agreed upon before the caregiver starts.

Values and expectations. Lay the groundwork and responsibilities out ahead of time. From routines to activities, make sure the caregiver has an explicit itinerary of daily life and what is required to meet those needs. If your child has particular interests, try to hire a sitter that shares their affinity–it helps foster connection and respect from caregiver to child.

Use your tribe (Co-op Model).

It takes a village, right? Team up with your people, those who know and cherish your kid(s) already. These have become more popular overtime and are often referred to as a Co-op.

Topics to discuss prior to committing:

  • Create a consistent schedule of who has what days/times.

  • Plan excursions and activities based on the age group.

  • Agree on what’s acceptable to spend and create accounts or a money pot prior to any outings for the spend.

  • Expenses to consider: Snacks and beverages, art and craft supplies, gas, admission and entry fees, books and materials (pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, etc).

  • Back-up plan in case of an emergency or illness.

Rotating childcare responsibilities allows parents who work full time in or out of the home to prioritize the workday more effectively and collaborate with employers for workplace flexibility. Coming together as a collective ensures the children have playmates, but no parent is out extra money for supervision.

Work Sponsored Childcare.

Inquire with employers, business owners or corporate entities to see if there are summer childcare programs available. Many corporations sponsor onsite child watches and may have summer openings.

Get a job.

It’s never too soon to learn about money management and fiscal responsibility. Teens 14 and older can acquire a work permit for a summer job. Working up to 40 each week can lay the foundation for teamwork, customer service, responsible scheduling and time management. When the bell sounds for classes to begin, students can stay employed, legally eligible to work up to 15 hours each week. Full guidelines can be found at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

When it’s summer, the livin’ can be easy for kids and parents alike. Approachable and flexible options are available to meet the unique needs of your family.