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How To Make A Fun DIY Summer Camp At Home

How To Make A Fun DIY Summer Camp At Home

DIY Summer Camp

If you’re looking for a fun way to connect with your kids this summer, try making your own DIY summer camp at home! Summer camp is a time for kids to have fun, learn, and express their creativity after a long school year, but traditional summer camps and even day camps can get pricey. If the expensive camps aren’t in your budget this year, you can still have fun in the sun with your kids with a backyard summer camp. Plus, you get to set the schedule! 

Summer camp activities are the perfect time for kids to try new things. Younger children and older children alike can have tons of fun playing outdoor games, doing fun crafts, and exploring new places. While backyard summer camp is a great way to keep kids entertained, planning your summer camp can seem like a daunting task when your own kids are in the middle school age group. In this blog post, we’re sharing the best DIY summer camp ideas for older kids to help you make this summer one to remember! 

How to structure DIY summer camp at home 

One of the best parts about summer break is that you don’t have to stick to a strict daily schedule or weekly schedule. This is still true with backyard summer camp, but it’s nice to develop a daily routine you can follow. The key is to be flexible with your routine to keep the festivities fun. The best summer camps incorporate outdoor activities, summer camp crafts, science experiments, and occasional field trips. Incorporating these into your daily backyard summer camp routine will help kids of all ages have a fun summer!  A sample DIY summer camp schedule could be:

  • Breakfast
  • Summer Camp Crafts
  • Lunch
  • Outdoor activities/Field Trip 
  • Snack
  • STEM/Science Activity

Backyard summer camp ideas

The key to running a successful DIY summer camp is to plan a variety of activities that are fun and engaging for kids. From hands-on activities like art projects to physical activity such as games, doing a mix of different activities will have you and your kids enjoying summer each day! 

DIY summer camp crafts for older kids

Older kids will have a blast doing these art camp crafts all summer long! Do these crafts outside when weather permits, or move them inside for those warm rainy days!

Melted Crayon Art

Create vibrant and abstract artwork by melting crayons onto canvas or other surfaces, resulting in colorful drips and splatters.

Octopus Yarn Craft

Craft a cute and cuddly octopus using yarn, perfect for imaginative play or as a decorative accent in a beach-themed room.

Water Balloon Flip Flops

Personalize plain flip flops with colorful water balloon embellishments, adding a fun and summery touch to your footwear.

Cork Crafts

Get creative with cork by making characters. You can also make coasters, trivets, or even mini boats, using this versatile material for a variety of craft projects.

Shaving Cream Marbling

Experiment with swirling colors and patterns by marbling paper with shaving cream and food coloring, creating unique and eye-catching designs.

Starburst Mirror

Repurpose old magazines into a decorative mirror by rolling and folding pages, transforming them into eco-friendly art.

Painted Rocks

Use rocks as your canvas and unleash your creativity by painting fun designs, patterns, or inspirational messages onto their surfaces.

Clay Flower Mirror

Craft the viral decorative TikTok mirror frame adorned with clay flowers, adding a touch of color to any room.

Fish-in-a-Bag Soap

Make fish-shaped soap bars suspended in clear glycerin, resembling fish swimming in a bag of water.

Bedazzled Bling Crocs

Add sparkle and flair to plain Crocs sandals by embellishing them with colorful rhinestones, beads, or sequins for a trendy and personalized look.

Disco Ball Cactus

Create a funky and festive jewelry hanger by covering a cactus with mirrored tiles, giving it a disco ball-inspired appearance.

Realistic Fake Donuts

Make mouthwatering faux pastries that look good enough to eat by crafting realistic-looking donuts from polymer clay. 

DIY Sushi Candles

Craft adorable sushi-inspired candles using wax and wicks, shaping them to resemble sushi rolls or nigiri. 

DIY Pom-Poms

Learn how to make fluffy pom-poms in various sizes and colors using yarn, perfect for adding playful accents to accessories, decor, or crafts.

Pom-Pom Puppy

Create an adorable pom-pom puppy using yarn and googly eyes, turning simple materials into a cute and cuddly companion.

Taco Pinata

Construct a festive taco-shaped pinata using cardboard, tissue paper, and glue, filling it with candy for a fun and fiesta-worthy party game.

Disco Ball Painting

Experiment with reflective paint and metallic hues to create dazzling disco ball paintings that shimmer and shine under lights.

Toilet Paper Shaker Instruments

Turn empty toilet paper rolls into DIY musical instruments by filling them with rice or beans and decorating them with colorful designs.

Squishmallow Painting

Practice portrait painting with your tween’s favorite toy – squishmallows!

Polymer Clay Ice Cream Cone Pens

Sculpt miniature ice cream cones from polymer clay toppers and attach them to pens, making adorable and functional writing utensils.

Decoden Art

Decorate phone cases, jewelry boxes, or other surfaces with colorful and textured Decoden art, using whipped clay, cabochons, and embellishments for a fun and funky look.

Tie Dye

Embrace the tie-dye trend by creating vibrant and psychedelic patterns on clothing or fabric using colorful dyes and folding techniques.

Bleach Tie Dye

Experiment with bleach to create unique and ethereal designs on dark-colored fabric, achieving striking contrasts and gradients for a modern twist on tie-dye.

Nature Crafts

Get inspired by nature and create crafts using materials found outdoors, such as pine cones, leaves, shells, or driftwood, for a rustic and organic aesthetic.

Making Friendship Bracelets

Spend quality time with friends while making colorful and intricate friendship bracelets using embroidery floss, beads, and various knotting techniques.

Summer Drawing

Complete a daily summer drawing prompt to enhance your drawing skills and work with different mediums like paint and colored pencils.

Fun outdoor activities for older kids

Bring the fun of summer camp to your own backyard with these fun activities perfect for middle school students. With a mix of individual and group activities, these great ideas help kids learn new skills and practice teamwork!

Hula Hoop Contest

Work your core and compete in a fun-filled hula hoop contest, challenging friends and family to see who can keep their hoop spinning the longest.

Backyard Field Day

Host a backyard field day complete with classic outdoor games like tug of war, a pool noodle relay race, three-legged race, and a potato sack race for a day of friendly competition and laughter.

Beach Ball Volleyball

Set up a beach ball volleyball net in your backyard or at the beach and enjoy a casual game of volleyball with friends and family, using beach balls for a fun and bouncy twist.

Water Balloon Dodgeball

Turn a water balloon fight up a notch with a game of water balloon dodgeball, where players dodge and throw water balloons at each other to avoid getting hit.

Obstacle Course

Design a challenging obstacle course in your backyard using household items like cones, hula hoops, and jump ropes, and race against friends to see who can complete it the fastest.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Explore the great outdoors and embark on a nature walk and scavenger hunt, searching for items like leaves, rocks, and flowers while enjoying the beauty of nature.

Campfire Cooking

Gather around the campfire and cook up delicious outdoor meals and snacks like s’mores, foil packet meals, and hot dogs on sticks for a cozy and memorable dining experience. See who can tell the best ghost stories!

Outdoor Movie Night

Set up a projector and screen in your backyard and host an outdoor movie night under the stars, complete with popcorn, blankets, and your favorite films for a magical evening.

Water Games

Beat the heat on a hot summer day with a variety of fun water games like water balloon toss, sponge relay races, and sprinkler limbo, providing endless entertainment and refreshing fun for everyone.

Outdoor Sports Tournament

Organize a sports tournament featuring a variety of outdoor team sports like soccer, basketball, and kickball, allowing participants to showcase their skills and compete for victory.

Neon Dance Party

Grab a white shirt, some neon paint, and wait until it’s after dark to dance your heart away under the stars!

Science Experiments & STEM projects for older kids

Use the principles of physics, chemistry, and engineering with these STEM activities. Older kids will have so much fun, they’ll want to do them again and again! 

Build Volcanos

Build your own volcano model, complete with eruptions of baking soda and vinegar for a thrilling and educational experience.

Film Canister Rockets

Launch homemade rockets into the sky with film cannisters, water, and effervescent tablets, creating a fizzy and explosive reaction that sends them soaring through the air.

Magnetic Slime

Get creative and mix up a batch of magnetic slime using common household ingredients like glue, borax, and iron filings, then explore its unique properties and abilities to attract magnets.

Build a Balloon Car

Engineer your own balloon-powered car using simple materials like straws, balloons, and wheels, and experiment with different designs to see which one travels the farthest.

Build a Solar Oven

Harness the power of the sun and build a solar oven using cardboard, foil, and plastic wrap, then use it to cook delicious treats like s’mores or nachos without using electricity or gas.

Make Ice Cream

Beat the heat and indulge in a cool and creamy treat by making your own homemade ice cream using a simple recipe and basic ingredients like cream, sugar, and flavorings.

​Science Magic Tricks

Master these four science tricks and make your friends and family believe you really can do magic!

Backyard summer camp field trips

While a family vacation is the best field trip of all, try mixing in these simple DIY camp field trips in between family trips. Or, if your middle schooler has a fun idea for a field trip, encourage them to plan it. 

Nature Hike

Take campers on a guided nature walk to explore local trails, parks, or nature reserves. Bring along binoculars, field guides, and magnifying glasses for observing wildlife, plants, and insects. Consider incorporating nature-themed activities like scavenger hunts, leaf rubbings, and bird watching.

Farm Visit

Plan a trip to a nearby farm or agricultural center where campers can learn about farming, gardening, and animal care. Activities may include petting farm animals, picking fruits or vegetables, and touring the farm facilities. You can also organize hands-on activities like planting seeds, milking cows, or making butter.

Outdoor Adventure Park

Visit an outdoor adventure park or ropes course for a day of thrilling activities like zip lining, rock climbing, and obstacle courses. Many adventure parks offer age-appropriate challenges and team-building exercises that promote physical fitness, confidence, and problem-solving skills.

Local Museum or Science Center

Take campers on a cultural or educational field trip to a local museum, science center, or historical site. Choose a museum with interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and educational programs related to science, history, art, or culture. Encourage campers to explore, ask questions, and engage with the exhibits to enhance their learning experience.

Beach or Pool Day

Plan a day trip to the beach for sun, sand, and surf! Spend the day swimming, building sandcastles, playing beach games, and soaking up the sun. Bring along beach toys, boogie boards, and beach umbrellas for a fun-filled day by the water. You can also organize beach clean-up activities or educational sessions about marine life and coastal ecosystems. If you don’t live near the beach, try a community pool instead!

Tips & Tricks for DIY summer camp

  1. Keep it Simple: Don’t overcomplicate activities or schedules. Simple crafts, games, and outdoor activities can provide just as much fun and learning as elaborate ones.
  2. Be Flexible: Allow room for spontaneity and adjust plans as needed. Sometimes the best moments happen when you go with the flow.
  3. Focus on Fun: Remember that the main goal is to have fun and create lasting memories. Let go of perfectionism and embrace the joy of the moment.
  4. Bonding Time: Use the time together to strengthen your bond with your kids. Engage in conversations, share stories, and participate in activities together.
  5. Learning Through Experience: Learning will naturally occur through hands-on experiences. Whether it’s reading directions for a craft, problem-solving during a game, or exploring nature, each activity offers opportunities for growth and learning.

FAQs about DIY summer camp

What age range is suitable for a DIY summer camp at home for older kids?

DIY summer camps at home can be tailored to fit a variety of age ranges, but they’re generally best suited for kids in the elementary to middle school age range, typically ages 8 to 14.

Should my summer camp have a theme?

Some people plan their at-home summer camp with weekly themes, but I find that’s best suited for younger kids. Some popular summer camp themes are space camp, mad scientist camp, and dinosaur camp. You can still have lots of camp fun without a theme!

How much time should I dedicate to each DIY summer camp activity?

The time you dedicate to each activity can vary depending on factors like complexity, attention span, and interest level. Generally, plan for each activity to last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to give yourself enough time.

How can I ensure my DIY summer camp activities are engaging for older kids?

Engage older kids by incorporating activities that align with their interests and abilities. Consider their hobbies, passions, and developmental stage when planning activities, and offer opportunities for choice whenever possible.

Do I need to follow a strict schedule for my DIY summer camp, or can I be more flexible?

While having a loose schedule can help provide structure, it’s also important to remain flexible and open to spontaneity. Allow room for adjustments based on your child’s interests, energy levels, and any unexpected events that may arise.

How can I make DIY summer camp activities educational as well as fun?

Many DIY summer camp activities naturally incorporate educational elements such as problem-solving, creativity, teamwork, and critical thinking. Look for opportunities to weave in learning experiences while still prioritizing fun and engagement.

What if I’m not crafty or creative? Can I still host a DIY summer camp at home for older kids?

Absolutely! Hosting a DIY summer camp is less about being crafty or creative and more about providing opportunities for fun, learning, and bonding with your kids. Don’t be afraid to try new things and embrace the joy of the experience together.

As you can see, you don’t need to send your kids to a full week of spendy sleep-away camp to have a great time with fun-filled summer camp activities! You can bring summer camp to your own backyard instead. The best part about hosting a DIY summer camp is that you get to spend quality time with your kids too! 

I hope you found this as a great resource for DIY summer camp ideas. Have fun!