Summer camp at home

May 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

Giving your children the camp experience is sometime not practical or affordable. You can give your kids a week of fun, adventure and excitement with a summer camp at home, in your own backyard.

summer camp

Set aside part of the summer for “Camp Smith” and plan a week’s worth of fun activities for your children.

Planning a Summer Camp

  • What are your children interested in? Pick a theme for your camp. If all your children love space exploration, host a space camp. If their interests vary, choose a different theme for every day.
  • Clear your calendar. Pick a week that is clear of all doctor appointments and other obligations for both you and your children. Don’t let anything sneak its way into that week on your calendar. For your kids to truly enjoy a camp experience, they can’t go to music lessons, sports practices or anything else on their regular schedule.
  • Invite other children. Consider asking neighborhood kids, cousins or new friends to join your camp. Part of the fun of camp is playing with others.
  • Set some goals. Is there anything you’d like to accomplish with your kids? Building self-esteem? More teamwork among your children? Developing their artistic abilities? Write down your goals and keep them in mind when planning camp activities. Ban TV for the week. Ditto for video games, iPods, cell phones and computer games.
  • Be prepared. Camp lasts all day and all night. Don’t give up halfway through! Plan fun dinners and child-friendly activities right up to bedtime.

Fun Camp Activities

  • On the first day of camp, decorate t-shirts with fabric paints. Put your family camp name and the year on the back, and first names on front.
  • Make postcards. Allow the kids to take photos of the week’s activities. Glue the photos to cardstock, write a message, add a stamp and an address, and mail them to friends and family.
  • Add some competition. Take a tip from the scouts and build in some games, contests, awards and merit badges.
  • Sleep outside. Pitch a tent in your back yard and have a camp-out. Build a flashlight fire, make microwave s’mores, and give each camper a dime store harmonica.
  • Pack up the car and go on a picnic.
  • At the end of each day, gather together for an evening activity, in which the kids get to perform skits or songs, or demonstrate what they’ve done that day. Get into the camp spirit by ending each day by gathering in a circle and singing a camp theme song.

Camp Themes

  • Have a Day at the Beach. Play water games in the back yard with a wading pool, a hose and a sprinkler. Decorate water bottles with paint. Have a sand castle building contest. Make things out of seashells. Have lunch on beach towels on the lawn. Serve Kool-Aid in tall glasses with umbrellas and maraschino cherries.
  • Have a Hawaiian Day. Make grass skirts out of big brown paper and make leis with tissue paper flowers. Learn the hula. Core and dice a fresh pineapple, and let the kids crack open a coconut.
  • Have a Music Day. Make drums out of coffee cans. Record a tape of your camp choir, with solos, and learn a new instrument.
  • Have an Arts & Crafts Day. Think of all the different media you can use in a day – paints, chalk, clay sculpture, paper mache, wood working, stitchery and more. Check out Suite 101’s Kids’ Crafts for ideas.
  • Have an International Camp. Pick a different country for each day and play native games, learn customs, and prepare food from that country.
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