Eight "Summer Camp" Activities to do at Home!

By Kathryn Trudeau


Are you looking for some at-home activities to recreate your own summer camp in your backyard? Look no further!

We know this is a strange summer, and many of our favorite summer activities -- like day camp -- have been postponed. Your kids don’t have to miss out on the campfires and s’mores, though! 

Here are 8 activities you can use to recreate your own family day camp.


1. Create a Nature Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a favorite camp activity, and there’s no reason why you can’t create your own backyard scavenger hunt.

The warm summer months are perfect for exploring the flowers (and bugs!) in your own yard. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A jar or shoe box for collecting the scavenger hunt items
  • Pencil and paper 
  • The scavenger hunt sheet

What to do:

  • On a bright piece of construction paper, write a list of all of the items for your child to find. For smaller children, you can simply draw the pictures. 
  • Once in the yard, your children will look for the items. They can either place the items (like blades of grass, round pebbles, green leaves) in the shoe box. If you include bugs or frogs on your scavenger hunt, be sure to include a jar with holes in the lid. You can also buy bug catchers or bug collecting kits on Amazon. 
  • If you opt-out of bugs (no judgment here!), add birds, squirrels, or other critters to the list. Then, just have your child draw the bird on a sheet of paper when s/he spots it in your yard. 

Ideas for your backyard scavenger hunt include round river rocks, dandelions, green leaves, Y-shaped sticks, robins, sparrows, squirrels. 


2. Tie-Dying T-Shirts

Tie-dyed shirts and summer camp go hand-in-hand. The nice thing about tie-dye is that you can tie-dye just about anything: shirts, jersey dresses, bibs, socks, tote bags, and more. You can even tie-dye clothes for dolls and stuffed animals. The options are endless! 

Tie-dye can get messy so be sure to plan ahead. This is a perfect activity to do outside on the desk or in the yard when the weather is nice.

You can easily find tie-dye kits to make the process as easy as possible. 


3. Water Games

girl playing with water summer camp activities

Heatwave? No problem? You don’t need to head to the beach or water park to cool off. You can make a water park in your own yard. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your backyard water park:

  • Sprinkler limbo
  • Dodgeball (use sponges, water balloons, or crochet water balloons instead of a regular ball)
  • Obstacle course (be sure to include plenty of water-based station, such as dumping a water bucket, doing a sprinkler limbo, or running through a Slip-N-Slide)

You can also add water tables, inflatable water slides, and sprinklers to the mix.


4. Build-Your-Own Ice Cream Social

After all of your outdoor activities, it’s time to cool off with ice cream or a popsicle. Create your own ice cream bar, and your kids will have a cool -- and tasty -- treat. 

Topping ideas:

  • Sprinkles
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cherries
  • Fresh-made whipped cream
  • Candy pieces
  • Fresh fruit slices such as bananas, blueberries, or strawberries
  • Hot fudge
  • Melted peanut butter

Pour your desired toppings into little ramekins. Then scoop ice cream into dishes. Let your child create his or her own sundae. 


5. Arts and Crafts

arts and crafts summer camp activities

Arts and crafts are a staple when it comes to camp. While you can do art any day, it’s especially helpful when the weather is inclement. You can get as creative or as simple as you want. Classic camp crafts include:

  • Friendship bracelets 
  • Popsicle stick birdhouses
  • Decorating wooden cars
  • Rock painting 
  • Paper mache 


6.Rainy Day Book Club

Rainy days? No problem. Create a book club with your little ones. There are lots of ways to organize this. You could simply read a book outlook and then everyone draws pictures related to the book. You could also act out the story with your children. 

If you have older children who can read independently, have each child read a story on his or her own and then present the story to the rest of the family. It can be acted out, retold, or drawn.


7. Dear Mom Letters

Did you ever write letters home to your parents when you were at camp? Even if your kids aren’t really sleeping at sleep-away camp, they can still write letters home. Instead of writing letters to Mom or Dad, considering writing the letters to relatives (maybe grandparents). This is a perfect way to stay connected with others, especially if travel between states isn’t on your to-do list lately.


8. Backyard Camping

And finally… go on a camping trip! You don’t need to go far, though! Set up camp in your yard. 

What you need:

  • Tent 
  • Sleeping bags (or an air mattress)
  • Pillows
  • Flashlights
  • Bug spray
  • Pajamas (or baby sleep sacks, if the littles are joining you)
  • Snacks (including s’mores!)
  • Books and board games

Even if your kids aren’t ready to sleep the whole night outside, you can still spend time hanging out in the tent before bed. Once everyone is in their pajamas, you can settle in for a cozy hour or two of board games and reading.

Tip: You can also set up a tent in your living room!

What are your favorite at-home camp activities?




Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at  www.katietrudeau.com 




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