Summer camp is the highlight of the year for lots of kids — one many will be missing out on as COVID-19 continues to upend life as we know it.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your brood entertained during those long summer months (and create some amazing summer camp memories too), look no further!
Bring the magic of camp to your family home with these unforgettable summer camp activities for kids.
11 ideas for summer camp activities at home
1. Ice cream social
A long time staple of summer camp induction is the ice cream social. It’s a chance for kids to get to know one another and enjoy some seriously tasty summertime treats.
Translate this tradition to your own home by making homemade ice cream with your kids. Or just buy a few tubs and plenty of toppings. Then, set up your own makeshift ice cream parlor outside.
If social distancing allows, invite some neighborhood kids or classmates round for the occasion. Just don’t forget to provide plenty of sprinkles!
2. Tie-dye t-shirts
It’s official: no childhood is complete without having made your very own tie-dye T-shirt, at least once! This is one of the most popular summer camp activities for kids and it’s really easy to do at home.
All you need is a white T-shirt, some rubber bands, fabric dye, and a few plastic squeeze bottles. Kids love the process of dyeing their shirt and the anticipation of waiting to see how it has turned out.
3. Nature trail
Looking for outdoorsysummer camp activities at home? A nature trail is always tons of fun, especially if you give kids a little structure to work with.
Head out to your local nature spot, or even just your own backyard. Equip your children with a magnifying glass and a jar with holes in the lid, then send them off to discover the flora and fauna of the area.
They’ll love identifying leaves, flowers, and bugs. And you can always extend the activity by getting them to create a summer science journal — a place for them to draw and record their nature findings.
4. Backyard camping
Spending a night under the stars is always a summer camp hit. And as long as you have a tent, this is another easy summer camp activity to recreate at home.
Melting S’mores, telling spooky stories, and sleeping under canvas — you’re sure to create wonderful memories together as a family. And kids get the opportunity to develop lots of practical skills, too. Win-win!
5. Games tournament
Rainy day? It’s time to incorporate some of your child’s favorite games into a full day of friendly competition. Card games, board games, table tennis — get creative and use whatever you have to hand. Then stick all scores into a master scoreboard and watch the competition unfold!
6. Junkyard challenge
Kids love getting crafty and putting their engineering skills to the test with a junkyard challenge.
You can keep it small scale with cardboard boxes, popsicle sticks, and other household junk. Or step it up a gear and let kids play around with scrap timber, rope, and maybe even your tool kit.
Ask your kids to create a go-cart, a water balloon catapult, a race track for their toy cars, or just let their imaginations run wild! You may be amazed at what they come up with.
7. Talent show
The summer camp talent show is a chance for kids to show off their passions and gifts. And just because summer camp isn’t happening this year, doesn’t mean they should miss out.
Give your kids some free time to plan their show and source props. Get them to make invitations for the audience (even if it’s just Mom and Dad). And then sit back as they present their acts. You could even go full America’s Got Talent with your judging panel — but who will get to “play” Simon Cowell?!
8. Grow your own
What kid doesn’t like playing in the mud?
Teach your kids where their food comes from by growing a few fruits and vegetables in the garden this summer. You don’t need much space — just a few planters, compost, and seeds.
Give your child some time each day to tend to her plants. And when they’re ready to be harvested, get her involved in cooking home-grown produce for the family. Choose a range of seeds with different maturing rates so there’s something going all summer. For example, wheatgrass bolts in just 7 days, radishes, tomatoes, and lettuce are ready in 25 days, green beans, spinach, and carrots take 50-60 days, while corn takes 60-100 days.
9. Field games
Field games have to be some of the silliest — but also the most fun — summer camp activities, and they’re ideal to play at home. Simply split the family into teams, and see who comes out on top.
Take your pick from sack races, tug-of-war, balloon pop relay, and pool noodle hoopla. And if it’s a hot day, incorporate the sprinkler or some wet sponges to up the excitement and help everyone cool down.
10. Make your own pizza night
Forget takeout! Getting kids to make their own pizzas is so much more fun!
Go the whole hog and make your own pizza dough. Or cheat and buy bases readymade. Then get kids to throw on their favorite toppings. Cook them in the oven and enjoy, or take things up a notch by getting the whole family involved in making a simple pizza oven.
This is one summer camp activity for kids that the whole family will enjoy — from preschoolers to grandparents! While on the topic of pizzas – if you have some pizza boxes lying around and the weather is hot and sunny, why not build a solar oven and make some S’mores?
11. Field trips
If the same four walls are starting to feel uninspiring, it’s time to head out on a field trip.
Make the most of local attractions like theme parks, the zoo, kid-friendly museums, and outdoor adventure centers.
But think outside the box, too. Picking berries at a local farm, visiting the local fire station, or creating your own local history tour could be equally as interesting and exciting.
Virtual summer camp activities at home
If you’re juggling work with summertime childcare, you almost certainly won’t have time to plan a schedule of incredible summer camp activities at home. You may also want to — gasp! — grab a much-needed hour or so for yourself.
Parents who fall into either of these categories needn’t fear. By the power of the Internet, you can access a wide variety of virtual summer camp activities for kids.
Do a search and you’ll find free camps, camps geared towards different interests — such as baking or coding — and plenty of great all-rounders, too.
Looking to keep up with a little schoolwork during the summer months? Check out the incredible range of worksheets in the KidsKonnect library and help to prep your kids for the new school year.
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