Ever hear of DIY Summer Camp? School’s out and many parents don’t know what to do with the kids. Even us homeschooling parents can be a little nervous about 6-10 weeks off school routines. One of the solutions for many parents is summer camp. But for some of us, summer camp is expensive, especially if you have more than one child. So what can you do with your kids? Do summer camp yourself, at home!
21 Days of Summer Camp ideas
Over the next 21 days, I’m going to share 21 days of DIY Summer Camp. Every day you can come back and get the schedule for the day, so you can do summer camp for your kids at home. I’m including outdoor and indoor activities, reading suggestions, craft and snack ideas, and even some tips on how to do summer camp activities when you have one child or many kids.
Everything we do is Summer-Camp-at-Home will be low-cost and based on things you can do without having to do a lot of extra. I get it — I’m a single mom and the last thing I want to do is a ton of prep. The target range for most of these activities will be 6-10 (the current ages of my children in 2019). But with help, you can probably adapt many of them for younger kids.
What you need to do:
Most of us homeschooling moms have only a few leftover craft supplies from the school year. So you might want to make a quick trip to your local dollar store for the basics of markers and glue, just to have on hand. And you may want to start saving your recyclables for activities — you’d be amazed about what you can do with an empty can or box.
Be prepared to get messy and to get wet. Thankfully it’s summer, so many of the messiest and wet activities can be done outside! This is a perfect time to take advantage of that gorgeous weather, and do some of those activities you don’t want to do in the winter.
Make it fun!
Summer camp is all about having fun, right? So make it fun for your kids. Don’t look at this as another “thing you have to do” but think of it as memory-making, relationship-building time!
On your First Day of DIY Summer Camp:
Every summer camp I’ve ever participated in starts with the “first day” before the real camp begins. So on your first day of Summer Camp, do a “first day” type day.
What happens on the first day of summer camp? Well, you get t-shirts, name tags or some other identifying information.
Let’s make both!
Make your own t-shirts.
This is an easy DIY activity. Grab some old t-shirts from your kids’ closets (or buy plain-colored ones from your local dollar or thrift store). Get some glitter glue, hot glue or fabric paint (if you have it). Or all of the above!
Decorate your shirts:
- use scrap material to cut out fun shapes and letters, and use hot glue to glue them on
- write names using glitter glue (let dry thoroughly before washing!)
- name your summer camp and write that on your shirts
Bonus! If you have sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol in your home, you can tie dye your plain shirts!
How to tie die a shirt with sharpies:
- Put a piece of cardboard inside your shirt, to prevent color from bleeding through (unless, of course you want it to!) Do this on a surface you don’t mind stained.
- Draw on your design with colored permanent markers. (Use non-toxic and make sure your kids know not to draw on themselves!)
- Remove cardboard and stretch our your shirt over a baking pan or plastic container and secure with clips (clothes pins, binder clips, etc). Make sure the drawn parts aren’t touching the pan.
- Carefully drip on rubbing alcohol — don’t flood it! — the more you drip on, the farther it will spread. But be careful to not wash it out thoroughly.
- Let dry!
- Set the color with a hot iron (tip: make sure your iron is on the highest setting).
- Throw it in the dryer for 15 min to set the color further.
- When washing, use cold water and WASH SEPARATELY! Tip: try putting a cup of salt in the wash water to help keep the colors bright!
Make name tags:
Use cardstock or index cards to make your name tags. Let your kids decorate with leftover stickers and markers — or if you’re really adventurous, paint!
To protect them, use clear packing tape to “laminate” the names. Just tape both sides and all the edges of your name tag. Then use a hole punch or scissors to make two small holes. Thread some yarn, string, shoelaces or cord through the holes and voila! Name tags!
What better way to start off summer camp than with watermelon! If you’re really brave, check out these way to cut a watermelon.
So it’s summer and it’s the first day of your DIY summer camp, and since you weren’t expecting to do much at all, here’s some easy summer camp games to play.
Let’s get wet!
Water balloons are bad for little kids and for the environment. But there’s so much fun in having a water balloon fight! Try this environmentally (and reusable!) alternative instead.
Grab your sponges and a bucket or two of water. Let the sponges soak up water until they’re nice and dripping wet (and a little heavy). Then.. toss! The splat of the hit will spray the recipient with water, and then they can grab the sponge, soak it and throw it right back.
This game can be played with just 2 or with a whole bunch. The only limit is how many sponges you have!
The nice thing about this activity is that you get a chore done and your kids have fun.
Pick a large, outdoor structure or vehicle. Give your kids clothes, buckets and soap, scrub brushes and a hose. And let them go to it! Ask them to draw soap designs on the walls. Do races to see who can clean a section fastest. And expect your kids to get wet.. and dirty!
Then hose them all off when they’re done.
Bonus: you not only got the car (or shed, or fence, or windows, etc) clean, but your kids got a bath too!
At the end of the day:
When you’re all done getting wet, and you’ve got your kids fed, and ready for bed, it’s time for a story.
Summer camp is perfect for typical campfire stories. It’s even better if you can actually tell stories around a campfire. But even if you can’t do a campfire, you can still tell campfire stories. Grab your flashlights and blankets and do some story-telling.
Try a group storytelling activity. You start a story, and then as you go around the circle, everyone contributes a part to get to the end.
- Once upon a time, a blue fuzzy monster woke up under the bed. He stretched, looked around, and froze. There was a noise on top of his bed. It was…
- It was a stormy night when the dragon snuggled into his treasure. The lightning made his gold coins shine nicely, and he admired the sparkles that reflected from his emeralds. Suddenly he heard a noise that wasn’t thunder. It was the sound of…
What will you come up with? Turn a favorite fairy tale upside down. Or tell about an adventure in space. Challenge your kids to make it as silly as possible while still making the story make sense.
DIY Summer Camp First Day
And once the kids are in bed, it’s the end of the first day. I hope you took pictures!
Come back tomorrow for more fun.
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