How to create your own DIY summer camp (+printables)?
Summer camps have been a summertime staple for kids for decades. These camps teach kids survival skills and foster their independence all while helping them learn to appreciate the outdoors in a safe environment.
For many reasons, however, some families are unable to make summer camp work. And this year, COVID-19 social distancing guidelines are postponing or canceling many of these fun summertime activities.
Luckily it’s still possible for families to get the summer camp benefits without actually traveling. At-home, DIY summer camps are a fun, creative and frugal way for families to bring the summer camp experience into their own backyard. These camps can be tailored to a family’s budget and time needs all while ensuring kids experience the many benefits that traditional camps provide.
This guide will teach you how to make your own DIY summer camp, including themes, games, and printables to get started.
Step 1: Pick the theme
A benefit of DIY camps is that they can be tailored to your family’s interests. You can choose to go to the traditional woods, campfires, and cabins route or mix it up with a unique theme that celebrates something your children enjoy.
Summer camps usually conjure images of log cabins, lakes, and campfires. This theme celebrates the peaceful power of nature while teaching kids how to camp and survive outdoors. And as a bonus, it’s pretty easy to recreate in your own home! Set up camp in your backyard and prepare to roast some hot dogs as you celebrate the traditional camp theme.
Activities for this theme include: swimming, building a campfire, telling stories, playing tag, and stargazing.
You can also download this welcome sign and coloring page activity to get your ideas flowing as you begin making your camp.
The Jungle Book
Kids who love the outdoors and animals will love this animal-themed camp experience. Bring the wildness of a safari, mystery of a jungle, and peace of a rainforest into your backyard and celebrate the wildlife around the globe! Complete the theme with face paint and compasses.
Activities for this theme include: animal walk races, scavenger hunts, face painting, and tag.
You can also download this welcome sign and scavenger hunt activity to bring the jungle indoors.
The Seven Seas
Kids who love the ocean and stories about pirates will love this swashbuckling camp theme. Take your kids on a fun journey through the Seven Seas as you bring the pirate’s life right into your living room! Complete the theme with bandanas and eyepatches.
Activities for this theme include: foam sword fights, crab walk races, water balloon fights, and a hunt for hidden treasure.
You can also download this welcome sign and maze activity to create the ambiance of the ocean in your living room.
For Disney or fairytale fans, this theme provides the opportunity to bring a storybook to life. Your kids can live out the story of a spunky princess and brave knight as they enjoy life in their own magical realm. Complete the theme with tiaras, foam swords, and dancing.
Activities for this theme include: a royal relay race, dragon’s egg hunt, a puppet show, and a dance contest.
You can also download this welcome sign and fill-in-the-blank word game to bring the fairytale to life.
Step 2: Plan your camp
When your theme and decor are set, it’s time to start brainstorming camp activities. These activities can be tailored to your family’s interests and schedule — and can be as simple or complex as you’d like!
Create your own or download a printable itinerary to schedule your camp and keep yourself and your kids organized while your camp is in session. Don’t forget to break up the fun for meals and rest.
Some ideas for other activities to help kids burn energy:
- Cloud gazing
- Painting rocks
- Kickball tournament
- “Fishing” with a plastic pool and magnets
- Relay races
- Dress up
- Make a craft
- Plant a garden
- Watch a themed movie
- Make a camp dinner
Step 3: Enjoy your camp!
At the end of the day, the most important thing to do is bring the summer camp spirit home with you. Summer camps emphasize fun, independence, creativity and togetherness — with these things in mind, you really can’t go wrong.