10 Ways to Recreate Summer Camp at Home

In a year when kids have been itching to get outside, ripped from their normal routines and separated from their friends, the simple joys of summer are needed more than ever.

But with no reliable treatment or vaccine yet for the coronavirus — and many camps remaining closed this summer — many parents are left scrambling for ways to entertain their children without relying solely on electronics.

For all those parents, here are some out-of-the-box activity ideas you can safely enjoy with your kids this summer.

Looking for more kid-friendly activities? Check out our summer fun family guide!

Happy Campers

Embrace your new summer role as the camp counselor by sporting some matching camp T-shirts. Have fun and brainstorm the perfect name for your family camp. Then let your children color and design a logo with fabric markers and paint.

Hiking Life Hack

Children aren’t always particularly excited about the idea of walking long distances, but Geocaching is a game changer. Geocaching is a free treasure hunting game and also the best kept secret of the hiking world!

To play, just download the app on your phone and search for geocaches near you. Your GPS will lead you to the general vicinity of the geocache, but you must read the clues carefully to find the hidden box and claim a piece of “treasure.” You must also leave something in the geocache for the next person, such as a pen, necklace or small toy.

Firefly Egg Hunt

Easter has come and gone, but many of us still have plenty of plastic eggs leftover from the holiday. Gather a few eggs and fill with treats and small glow sticks. Wait until dusk and hide the eggs around the yard or around the neighborhood. Your kids will light up while they search for their “firefly eggs.”

Play With Your Food

Challenge your child to create a self-portrait out of their favorite breakfast. Pancakes and French toast work great for this activity along with a variety of other toppings such as fruit, whipped cream, bacon and sprinkles. It’s a simple activity, but kids just can’t get enough of it.

Think Outside the Box

Save up all boxes delivered to your home and challenge your kids to a cardboard box transformation contest. There are endless creations you can make out of cardboard box such as a rocket, a slide, or a construction truck to name just a few ideas.

Glowing Bath Time

There is nothing more fun than a glow-in-the-dark bubble bath and there are several ways to accomplish this.

A fast and easy way is to drop several glow sticks into the tub. You could also place a black light on the opposite side of the bathroom to safely get a vibrant, neon glow. For extra fun, use non-toxic neon paint mixed with shaving cream and let the kids decorate the bathtub full of bright colors

Ultimate Slumber Party

Grab your cozy pajamas, rent a movie and treat the kids to the ultimate slumber party. Start with a good old-fashioned pillow fight, tell ghost stories, and then challenge your kids to build an epic fort to spend the night in. I once mistakenly agreed to let my children use whatever they wanted to make their fort, and they chose to inflate our jumpy house in the middle of the family room.

Both kids actually spent the entire night in there and still say that was the most fun they ever had!

“Nailed It”

You and your kids are the new stars of the hit baking show “Nailed it: Family Edition.” Select a recipe and have each family member make their own to the best of their ability. To decide on the winner, post your creations on social media and have your friends cast the deciding vote.

DIY Family Game Night

Playing games together as a family is a great way to bond. Work together to create a customized family board game by coloring, gluing and cutting a piece of poster board to make the game board. It is also fun to go through old games and find ways to personalize or repurpose them.

Our kids love a family edition of “Guess Who” that I created for them several years ago.

VIP for a Day

This is a great birthday party idea or a way to spoil your kids just because. Honor your child as VIP for the day by making their favorite meals, letting them choose what to watch on TV and even giving them the “red carpet treatment” right outside their room in the morning.

You can easily make a “red carpet” out of a dollar store tablecloth, and the gold posts are just dollar store plungers sprayed gold, connected to red pool noodles.

Want more?

Lindsay Kosciuk is a digital content creator and blogger of “Make it Fun Mom,” a platform where she shares how she turns mundane tasks into fun-filled activities with her two kids, Katalina and Carter. Lindsay created Mom Camp to provide free day-to-day summer activity guides to other moms who are playing “Camp Director” this summer.

Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.

This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s July 2020 magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.

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