A self-sufficient Summer Fun

Summer is coming to an end, and I started thinking about Honolulu’s Summer Fun program.

In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Summer Fun collected $146,595 in revenues, but cost $892,319 to run (2008-2009 Department of Parks and Recreation Annual Report, DPR-202-203). I couldn’t find a specific budget report for the program, but if these numbers are correct, we subsidize $740,000 for Summer Fun each year.

Let’s face it: Summer Fun needs to be self-sufficient.

How can we do this? I’ve come up with two suggestions:

* The parents who sign up for Summer Fun could pay for Summer Fun. In 2008, Summer Fun enrolled 11,609 children. If each child paid $125 for five weeks of Summer Fun (that’s just $25 a week), Summer Fun would pay for itself and possibly build up a small reserve for improved facilities.

Right now, parents pay a $25 registration fee per child (waived for eligible families) and an optional $40 activity fee. That’s just a fraction of the costs for facilities, staff, supplies, and student aides who make $9 or $10.50 an hour and gain work experience (and hopefully have fun too). 

Meanwhile, private summer school programs can cost anywhere from $600 (half-day, five-week program) to $1,100 (full-day, eight-week YMCA), and more. Even summer school charges $160 for 120-hour sessions.

We could turn the Summer Fun into a co-op. It could be similar to the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Tiny Tots program, requiring parent participation.

For example, each parent could sign up for specific days to “supervise” Summer Fun. Two parents would be assigned for each day, with the help of “student aides” (high school and college volunteers), and would be responsible for supervising all activities.

A Summer Fun Co-op does have some difficulties: what happens if parents don’t show up? Are there insurance or liability issues? Do we need background checks for parents? But despite the drawbacks, I think a co-op is a great way to get to know the parents and kids in your community.

Two Summer Fun ideas, one that costs money and one that costs time. What do you think? How else can we pay for Summer Fun and ensure that it continues?

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