The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions likely to be in place through the fall means that summer camps as we knew them are off the table. This has left North Shore parents scrambling to find an adequate replacement for that annual rite of passage—activities that can keep their kids’ minds and bodies active during the warm weather so they can get back to their own pursuits as we ease into this “new normal.”
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the joy of “summer camp” delivered to your door?
Enter the enterprising women of the Bozzo family.
For years, Donna Bozzo has been helping parents create households of fun for their kids. This success has positioned the Winnetka resident as a media expert on the subject, with bylines in such publications such as Good Housekeeping and Redbook, and appearances on NBC’s .TODAY show.
Recently she took that mission to help parents keep their kids engaged one step further.
Together with her three daughters, they launched Fun Camp in a Box—a collection of interesting and engaging activities for kids delivered to the front door each week.
“My two oldest daughters are both business majors at (University of) South Carolina and they had internships lined up, but then things changed,” Bozzo explains. “When I found out the summer camps were going to be limited or cancelled because of the pandemic, I wanted to create a project that would be interesting for them. So we started a little company where they could learn and also do something good for the community.”
Fun Camp in a Box includes a weekly supply of 10 to 12 activities for kids in two age groups: 3 to 6 or 6 to 10. The first batch of boxes was delivered last week and included soil and seeds to plant a pumpkin, items to make a lantern, a camp journal, and chalk to draw on the driveway.
“Every week will be a little different and the boxes will include everything you need for simple activities,” says Bozzo. “Some of the activities will call for assistance from parents but everything is there, and it’s all laid out so that it’s easy for parents to jump in if they have to.”
Bozzo worked in television early in her career and, after having three daughters, used her experiences providing activities for them to become a “family fun expert.” She’s also written two books.
The pandemic, which has had kids stuck at home, has made Bozzo’s expertise more in demand than ever.
“Like they say, it’s unprecedented and I think it’s challenging for the kids because they’re used to being at school or playing with kids their age,” Bozzo says. “Your parents might be limited because they’re working from home. Not all moms, but certainly some, are frustrated.”
Bozzo is especially enthusiastic about launching the venture with her two oldest daughters. Since her girls were already home for most of the second semester, they were getting involved in some of her other ventures. She’s hoping the experience will help further their business education.
“It’s been hard on the kids because that’s kind of their job to be out and meeting people and doing internships,” she says. “That experience was taken away from them.”
Grace Bozzo, Donna Bozzo’s middle daughter and a rising college sophomore, says the business partnership with her mom and sisters isn’t really all that different from the hands-on way her and her sisters learned and played while they were young.
“Growing up with a mom like I did was awesome … an irreplaceable experience … and it influenced me and my sisters,” Grace says. “Every vacation, we did a road trip and we would make multiple stops so we could see different museums. Off the beaten path types of trips were my mom’s thing. It made us so much more well-rounded.”
Grace adds that the basement of their house as children was the activity room for the entire neighborhood where kids could come over after school and do art projects.
“Elephants are my favorite animal and I remember making this huge elephant out of cardboard boxes,” she says. “We could paint on the walls. It was just the cool spot for kids to come and do fun things.”
While Grace has a summer job, she’s excited about the opportunity of working on the Fun Camp in a Box project.
“I’ve loved my job, so far, but it isn’t necessarily the same experience that I would get with an internship in terms of exposure. So the idea behind this company is to get to the point where it can grow into a bigger business with lots of orders and it would give us the exposure in terms of operations,” Grace says. “Supply chain is my sister’s major and my major is accounting, and we just want a hands-on experience of managing a company of our own.”
In addition to the learning opportunity offered by helping to run a small business with her mom and sister, Grace is happy to be part of a project that is meeting an important community need.
“I also want to try and help out those families whose parents are full-time workers and need something for their kids to do,” she adds.
Fun Camp in a Box is available for $45 per week for ages 3 to 6 or ages 6 to 10, which includes the cost of shipping or a drop-off in Kenilworth and Winnetka. For more information, visit paperdollspopupshop.com.