Strike Camp had fewer visitors than expected Friday, but there was no shortage of activities for kids spending a third day out of class in Grayslake Elementary District 46.
Ten youngsters, who normally would have been in class, spent Day 3 of the teacher strike playing cards and dodgeball, and taking Wii dance lessons, among other diversions at the Grayslake Park District headquarters and recreation center.
Fun was had, but there were indications some of the kids and their parents would rather the arrangement be temporary.
"I don't want it to be too long, though," said Tony Moore, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, who was dropped off by his mom, Abbie, along with sister, Morgan, a first-grader, and brother, Eddie, who is in fourth grade. "I want school to come back soon but not too soon. I want it to end at some point."
About a mile away, scores of sign-toting teachers continued to picket along Route 83 between Grayslake Middle School and Frederick School -- and at the district's other five schools.
A bargaining session Thursday night ended without an agreement, with the union representing 325 instructors and the school board still apart on salary and other issues.
The two sides are scheduled to meet Sunday, and Monday is a school holiday. Also, a group called For Our Children's Future has scheduled a town-hall meeting for 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at State Bank of the Lakes, 50 Commerce Drive, Grayslake, to discuss the matter.
In a letter to parents Friday evening, school Superintendent Ellen Correll outlined the situation and said the district doesn't have the money to support a federal mediator's proposal.
"I hope they figure it out Sunday. Who knows?" said Rusty Welch, as he picked up his daughter, Caytee, a first-grader, from Strike Camp. "I think they both have an argument. There should be a middle of the road they can come to."
Kim Duerkop, who brought her daughter, Kara, 5, and son, Caden, 7, admitted she was "not a happy camper" as the strike was costing her money in day care and disrupting the household routine.
She thought both sides had valid points -- the teachers need to be able to support their families and the district has to be careful with its finances -- but admitted not having the expertise to decide who had the best case.
The timing of the strike, just after the holiday break when kids were getting back into the routine, "stinks," Duerkop contended.
"They're using the children as leverage," she said.
Abbie Moore said she saw both sides and was "kind of on the fence," though it sounded as if the teachers were more willing to work with the negotiator than the district.
Because she is home during the day, Moore said, she gave her kids the option of staying there or going to the park district. The boys skipped the first day but decided to go after their sister reported having so much fun.
"I would rather them be at school," Moore said.
Jeff Nehila, executive director of the park district, said the strike camp had room for 50 kids. Arrangements previously had been made with the district to use Grayslake Middle School for the program beginning Tuesday -- if need be.
"We'll be prepared either way," he said.