A lot of parents are left looking for something their children can do while they're working all day. A program at the YMCA offers a lot of different activities and even some field trips for the kids -- and the YMCA does everything it can to ensure the program is affordable.
"You can bring them by whenever you want and pick them up as early as you want to," says YMCA District Director of Operations Ashley French. "They're with their buddies having a real good time. A lot of families don't go on vacation. A lot of them still need to work, so we want to make sure we provide a program for those kiddos."
The YMCA's Holiday Adventure Camp is one of many programs in the Ozarks aimed at helping parents out during these tough times.
"We offer financial assistance to parents who can't afford the program," French says. "If it's a little too high for them, we do offer assistance to be able to come into the program as well. Typically, if you're qualified for free or reduced lunch through schools, we're going to give you some assurance on your tuition -- a lot of times it will be up to half off."
French says the downtown YMCA offers assistance to about one-fourth of the families who utilize the program.
"When mom and dad have to work, they need to have child care and a lot of times they may not be able to afford it," French says. "We really want to make sure parents know it's affordable. We'll give you assistance to get in here even if you feel you can't afford it. Last year alone, we had over $1 million in assistance in the entire YMCA -- child care alone was probably half of that."
With travel and vacation in general becoming more and more expensive, programs like this one give parents a safe place to take their kids while keeping them in a routine.
"Me and my wife are both full time employees," says Matthew McMillian, whose kids are in the program. "We both have to work that way. It's just how the economy is right now. The kids are part of the program because of me being at work and my wife working, but more than anything it's a good social thing for them."
Not only does the program help parents out who have to work when schools are out of session, but kids can also participate in a lot of fun crafts and activities.
"Pretty much everything I like," says Ricardo Echezona, 11.
"I've met lots of friends," says Malachi Ruhl, 11.
The kids say if they weren't participating in the camp they'd probably be at home playing video games or reading a book. This keeps the kids active.
"There are sports here, there's a pool here," says 9 year old Madison McMillian. "It's kind of fun!"
The program begins at and goes until , Monday-Friday.
Parents can pick up and drop off their kids whenever it's convenient for them. It's not too late to sign up; parents are asked to send their kids with a bathing suit for swimming and a packed lunch.
The YMCA program is $13 for members, $18 for non-YMCA members.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield also offer spring break activities that involve computer games, art and physical activity. That costs $25 and includes breakfast, lunch and a snack. The Springfield-Greene County Park Board also has spring break options.