by Kady Wright
Summer camp can be an amazing experience in a young person’s life. For many it is the first time they are away from their parents for an extended amount of time and given the opportunity to try new things, surrounded by peers. If you have a child, you might have heard of some camp opportunities going around this summer. For some, sending a child to summer camp might not be an option due to the financial burden some camps ask or your child might be too young to send away, often hours away, for often longer than 3 nights. Whatever the case may be, if summer camp is not in you or your child’s plans (or even if it is), an at- home, neighborhood camp is a way for you and your child to experience many of the same summer camp activities, right in your own backyard!
No summer camp experience is complete without s’more making. There are many fun and different variations you can try of s’mores, including using the airfryer, using an icecream cone instead of graham crackers, etc. Try something new, while keeping the nostalgia and tried and true experience of s’mores alive.
A Night Outside
Part of what makes summer camp such a memorable experience is the bonding it often, for the time, creates between a child and nature. Even if the stars are not visible from your backyard, it is still worth it to be outside in the cooler, evening air. If you want to make the experience really feel like camping, you can even pitch a tent and spend the night outside in your sleeping bags. Or, maybe watch a movie outside before returning inside to your beds.
No summer camp experience is complete without a campfire! Now, a real campfire in the middle of a backyard or neighborhood is not always feasible, however, a campfire is what you make of it! A campfire can take place in your living room, using a collection of flashlights in the middle of an otherwise dark room. To take it a step further, if someone has a guitar, sing some campfire songs! If you don’t know where to start with campfire songs, you can check out some good suggestions here.
Games and Activities!
Games and activities are what make summer camp fun and keep kids wanting to return year after year. These games and activities can range in price, but if you gather together with your neighbors or friends and split the prices, it can really make a more memorable and cost effective experience for everyone.
Make some teams out of 2-3 people and see who can build the tallest structure that will stand for at least 2 minutes. One structure can be made out of mini marshmallows and dry spaghetti. These are the only 2 building materials allowed- no using the packaging of either item! Teams only have 15 minutes to build and the structure must be built on a paper plate, giving only so much space for the base. Round two follows the same rules, but this time the building materials are graham crackers and cool whip. These building challenges are so much fun for all ages!
Make friendship bracelets.
All it takes is a little bit of multi- colored string and a few youtube videos to learn how to make your own bracelets, while they can range from simple to complex depending on your children’s ages and abilities. This is a fun and true summer camp experience that can remain with your child for the months to come.
TP fashion show!
If you have enough people, have a toilet paper fashion show. Teams can be around 3-4 people, with one of those people being the model. Using only 1-2 rolls of toilet paper, teams must create an “outfit” on their model so they are ready to walk down the runway in their TP best. It is so fun to see how creative people can be in creating a whole look for their model with just toilet paper. Keep teams and models away from each other until it is time for each team’s model to walk the catwalk.
Summer camp needs a few sports games. Capture the flag and volleyball (with an inflated beach ball) will always be summer camp classics. If you and your neighbors want something new or different for yourselves or your children, try bubble ball soccer! Using that same beach ball as the soccer ball and this body zorb ball (packs and cheaper ones can be found on amazon and walmart’s website), play soccer! You and your kids can also have fun playing around and rolling around in these body balls! They are truly some great fun.
Giving your kids, or yourself, the summer camp experience does not have to break the bank or mean you have to send your kids away this summer. You can gather your neighbors or friends and put on your very own at- home summer camp using these ideas. If you have any other thoughts or suggestions, please list them down below and let us know how your at- home summer camp goes this summer!