Summer camp is a magical time for kids. It provides the structure and routine of school, without the homework. It’s a place where kids can connect and let loose—so we thought it would be fun to emulate some of that magic in your own backyards (or living rooms or wherever!)
Tell stories and have S’mores by the campfire
No fire pit? No worries! You can always use a grill or a stove to light your marshmallows, or head to a local park and use one of theirs.
Camp out in the backyard (or living room)
Remember when you were young and you’d make forts with your siblings or parents? There was something magical about being under a blanket in the living room. Pitch a tent with some blankets in your living room—or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, camp out at night in the backyard.
Catch and release fireflies
We know summer is here when we start to see the intermittent twinkle of fireflies at dusk. And summer camp evenings are filled with catching fireflies and watching them light up in our hands and fly back into the night.
Compete in relay races
Plan a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are chock full of fun and can last all day! Plan a fun scavenger hunt in your backyard or around your house. Have your kids find things you hide—or for the busy caregivers, put together a list of things like certain leaves, rocks, and other outdoor elements to keep the kids entertained and busy all day.
Splash around with some water activities
No pool? No problem. All you need is some running water and an eager kid. Plan some water activities outside. Hook up the sprinkler and have the kids run through it. Bonus camp counselor points if you combine some water activities with relay races!
Have an at-home talent show
For those rainy summer days, perform a talent show inside. Let your kid and their friends pick a talent to perform at the end of the day. Have them work on their performance throughout the day to keep active and excited.
Have them judge each other instead of you—that can always get a little sticky.
Create a theme for each day of the week
Keep things exciting with weekday themes! Dress up differently and plan out activities around each weekday theme. It doesn’t have to be too extravagant, either. Simple things can be exciting for our little ones. Try out different ones that mirror your child’s interests.
Here are some weekday themes you can try:
- Superhero theme
- Explorer theme
- Sea creature or mermaid theme
- STEAM theme
Go on a field trip with friends
For the adventurers, take your kids and some friends to a park for a field trip! Plan a picnic, head out to a beach or lake, or just take a stroll to your neighborhood playground. Field trips are great ways to beat boredom and keep your kids excited for the day. Plus they’ll be tuckered out and ready to wind down when you get home.
Have a movie night outside
Movie nights outside on a warm summer night are just the cozy end to an at-home summer camp. Surprisingly, projectors are relatively affordable these days, so you can buy one for around $60 and project onto a white sheet for a night your kid will remember for years to come.
No projector? That’s ok! Build a fort inside with some blankets under the TV and pretend you’re outside! It’s about being together, not the location, after all.