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Aaahh, sweet summertime! Sunshine, campfires, popsicles, and the sound of “Moooom, I dunno what to do!” Anyone else? 🤣 If only there were some summer camp activities we could do right here at our own house. Oh wait….there are!
As much as I’m a fan of leaving kids to figure out a solution to their boredom on their own at times, I also love coming up with fun activities (hence this blog!). And one thing I’ve been looking forward to is creating our own summer camp activities to do at home!
I’ve always loved the idea of summer camp, which is strange because I’ve never actually been. But they just make it look so fun in books and movies, ya know? So if your kid isn’t actually attending the real thing, there are so many summer camp activities that are easy to recreate at home!
These are great options for days when you need a boredom buster. They would also be super fun at a summer camp themed birthday party! The more the merrier with these summer camp activities to make your kids feel like it’s the real deal!
1. Nature Weaving
Everyone loves a good camp craft, and this is a great nature craft to fit the bill! The perfect combo of woodsy and artsy, it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to make in the craft cabin at camp after a nature walk to find your supplies. Check out how we made ours here!
What summer camp would be complete without archery? If you don’t already have a bow and arrows at home, we have this set for our 5-year-old. This one is a great option for the older kids and teens. Have each child take ten shots and add up their score to see who has the highest score at the end!
3. Friendship Bracelets
This is another staple when it comes to summer camp activities, especially for kids who are a little bit older. There are so many different cool bracelets that kids can make and exchange with their friends! Get started with some of these options. There are also kits like this one to make it easier!
4. Scavenger Hunt
Summer camp activities have to include a good dose of nature, which is why a nature scavenger hunt is perfect! It’ll get the kiddos out on the trails and searching for all kinds of treasures.
If you have enough kids, it’s extra fun to split into two teams and make it a competition! Set a time limit and a rendezvous point, then head out. Collect whatever you can or take pictures along the way. Whoever finds the most items at the end of the allotted time wins! Make sure to grab this printable freebie scavenger hunt here!
5. DIY T-shirts
Who doesn’t love a good tie-dye shirt, especially one that you made yourself? I remember doing this at school as part of field day. Each class had their own color and tie-dyed shirts to wear for the day! So whether you decide to have your own field day games or not(see #10), why not add t-shirts to your list of summer camp activities?
There are lots of great kits out there if you have absolutely no idea where to start. This is another one that would also make a great activity at a party and can be used as a party favor!
6. DIY Fire Starters
Fires are a classic part of camp, so why not make these homemade fire starters part of your summer camp activities? Afterwards, you can use them for your own campfire later in the evening! These just require an old egg carton, wax, and dried out nature bits (pine cones, pine needles, etc.). Check it out here to see how these are made!
7. Nature Journals
Since being immersed in nature is a big part of summer camp, I love the idea of keeping a nature journal! If you do a whole week of “camp” at home, make nature journaling one of the summer camp activities that you do on repeat! Just head outside each morning for 30 minutes (or however long suits you) and fill out a page or two.
To make your own DIY nature journal, just cut rectangles from cardboard or a brown paper bag for the front and back covers. Use this free printable to glue onto the cover! Fill in with blank pages or check out some of my printables to use as page inserts!
8. Backyard Campout
While in the midst of doing all these summer camp activities, might as well go all the way and do a backyard sleep-out! These are so much fun for kids and a lot less effort than an actual camping trip for parents. Trust me, our little guy has SO much fun every time we sleep out just in the backyard and is always asking to do it again.
Here are nine ideas for an epic backyard campout!
9. Earn Merit Badges
Not only do I love the aesthetic of a nice patch embroidered with something outdoorsy, but I also love the idea of achieving different goals to earn them! Make up some of your own like we did or have your kids participate in the National Park’s Junior Ranger Program!
One of my ideas was to have Finn earn a fire safety badge (of our own creation). We downloaded Smoky Bear’s Campfire Safety Guide and went over that information together. Once Finn had mastered the concepts, he earned a little felt badge that I made for him! These are the patches I used.
10. Field Day Games
The culmination of all summer camp activities is field day at the very end! This one can be fun for the whole family or at a party so there are enough people for teams! Here are a ton of ideas to get you started. I personally like classic options like the sack race, tug-of-war, egg toss, etc., but there are so many to choose from that you’re sure to find a few your family will enjoy!
Bonus: My Favorite Summer Camp Themed Movies and Books!
If you need a little inspiration, want some books to read with the kids to get in the spirit, or just love a good summer camp story like me, these are some of my favorites!
- Moonrise Kingdom
- The Parent Trap (Original and New!)
- The Addams Family Values
- Molly Saves the Day
- The Berenstain Bears Blaze a Trail
- The Berenstain Bears Go To Camp
Whether you like nature crafts, camp sports, or earning merit badges, I hope you and your family enjoy these summer camp activities as much as we did!
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