By: Mila Schneider
As a retired camp counsellor, the cancellation of summer camps due to COVID-19 pulls at my heartstrings.
Summertime for kids means being outside, playing with friends, swimming, and having fun. However, camps and organized activities being cancelled doesn’t mean that your kids need to have a sucky summer. In fact, it means the opposite!
Being quarantined at home has brought out the creative side in many, and has allowed us to see the opportunities that exist in the comfort of our own homes. It’s also a great time to enjoy spending time with your kids in some fun new ways.
If you're in need of some fun summer camp activities, or just some fun summer ideas, we’ve got you covered! Below we have compiled a list of 10 different things you can do to help keep morale high and to bring camp into the home. Some of these activities involve readily available supplies, while others require items that you can find lying around your home!
1. Write Letters to Friends and Family.
Writing letters is such an important part of summer camp. Children are able to tell their friends and families at home what they’ve been up to, how they’re doing and tell them about all the fun activities they’ve been engaging in. Encourage your little ones to write letters to their friends- near and far- to emulate that same camp experience! Especially during COVID-19, this is a great way to stay in touch with loved ones who you may not be seen frequently.
Another way to do this is by ‘sending’ care packages to your kids. Kids at camp look forward to getting letters and packages - most of these are from their parents! You can create fun care packages for your kids and leave them at the doorstep, telling them that they have some mail waiting. Inside the care packages you can include anything; a puzzle, chalk, bubbles, some fun snacks and treats, stationery, stickers, and more!
2. Host a Cooking Competition
Some of the most fun activities in camp are the fun competitions kids are able to partake in, especially the ones that involve yummy treats! This is our take on a version of some of the most popular Food Network shows! Give your children some ingredients, set the timer on the clock and have them create whatever comes to mind. This is a great way to get kids in the kitchen in an organized fashion. It can also save you from having to cook another meal.
3. Lemonade Stand and Homemade Summer Treats
If cooking isn't for you, a lemonade stand or homemade popsicles and ice cream are an easy alternative! For lemonade, all you need are some lemons, sugar and water. Squeeze, stir, pour and enjoy! You can even make a stand with a cute sign and a small table. Popsicles and ice cream require minimal ingredients, which means a minimal mess in the kitchen. It’s a great way to encourage your children to get into the kitchen and further cool down on a hot summer’s day. We've linked two easy recipes - one for popsicles and one for ice cream.
4. DIY S'mores Without the Fire
If you happen to have a fire pit, then feel free to make your S’mores outdoors! But for those who do not, a microwave works just as well. Graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows are readily available ingredients at most local supermarkets and are a great evening dessert and treat. Place one half of a graham cracker on a microwave-safe plate, with a marshmallow and a small square of chocolate. Put it in the microwave for 15 seconds, take it out and top it with the other half of the graham cracker to form a delicious S’more. Eat these outside in the backyard for a more “campy” vibe.
5. Arts and Crafts!
All you need are some beads to make friendship bracelets, paint for some finger painting, DYI Slime or some dye to make original Tie Dye designs. Don’t forget about chalk drawings. A sidewalk as a canvas is a great way for kids to draw, play hopscotch and get creative. Here are some links for easy and affordable crafting utensils.
6. Get Creative with Water
Turn on the sprinklers, fill some water balloons and create your own little water park to cool off in the heat! A camp favorite is the classic Drip, Drip Drop - a fun take on Duck Duck Goose, using water!
7. Camping In the Backyard
The best part about being outdoors is mother nature and her beauty. Stargazing is a camp classic and all you need is a towel, blanket or something soft to lie on and watch the night sky. Of course, you can take this a step further and pitch a tent in your backyard, but spending a few hours outside after dinner is enough to stimulate that camp outdoorsy feeling.
8. Movies, Board Games and Puzzles
On those rainy days, turn on a favorite film, pull out a puzzle or any board games. It’s hard to detach from screens when you are home but these methods of entertainment can keep kids occupied and busy for long periods of time.
9. Outdoor Sports
There is nothing like playing catch with a ball outside under the warmth of the sun. I think it’s safe to say that most summer camps come equipped with sports paraphernalia, so an easy way to keep kids busy, active, and outside, is to encourage them to play some games that do not require teams. For example, playing catch, frisbee, jumping rope, tennis, or even kid-friendly yoga!
10. Spend Time Outside
The biggest challenge with camps being cancelled is getting your kids out of bed and outside. Activities as simple as a nature walk, a bike ride, or a trip to the park are an easy fix. Being outdoors, even if that means in your front yard or backyard, is both a safe and simple way to enjoy the summer months. All you need is some sunscreen and water to stay hydrated.
While nothing will be able to totally replace summer camp, we know the list above will help kids get into the summer camp spirit and enable them to have fun, even while at home!
We hope these activities inspire you to get creative and help your inner camp counsellor persona come out!