CampMinder, creator of camp management solutions for programs, found out in June that 62% of camps planned to remain closed for the summer due to COVID-19. The survey also found that 27% of camps would open but with changes.
For many camp managers across the U.S., they’re either closing programs for the summer, making adjustments for in-person camps, or moving activities online. And, this is evidenced by the number of summer camp activities that are now available virtually as well as alternative ideas for parents recreating the experience.
So, if you’re looking for some ideas to recreate summer camp or virtual alternatives, we’ve got a list of 10 just for you.
10 Alternative Summer Camp Activities
1. Send Them to Camp Virtually with Virtual Day Camps
There is truly a plethora of virtual day camps available today with platforms like WideOpenSchool, Varsity Tutor, Camp Kinda, 4-H Camp, Camp Khan, and many others. One of the benefits of virtual camps for kids and teens is that they can continue learning about subjects they’d normally study in school, plus have access to supplemental hands-on activities through crafts or projects. Here are a few we think are a must-try:
- Jurassic Class: All About Dinosaurs – Varsity Tutors
- Biology Bootcamp – Varsity Tutors
- Creative Writing Cafe Camp – Varsity Tutors (There are sessions for kids in Grades 4-5 and 6-8)
- Fun Fairytales – Varsity Tutors
- Algebra, Geometry, and Precalculus lessons – Camp Khan
- Weekly Summer Adventures – Camp Kinda
- STEM, art, lifeskills, and more– 4-H Camp
- Lessons for Preschool to Grade 12 – WideOpenSchool
2. Have a Virtual Show and Tell Day
One of the most beloved (or dreaded) days of school is Show and Tell Day. Typically, kids are able to bring in a favorite toy or something sentimental and share why it matters to them. Another way to continue this tradition with summer camp activities is to have a virtual Show and Tell Day. You can set one up over Zoom or another video platform with family, friends, or neighbors and have your child develop their public speaking skills.
3. Set Up Your Own Backyard Camp
When real camping in the great outdoors isn’t an option, setting up your own backyard camp is easy to do. You can teach your kids about outdoor survival skills like how to tie a knot, pitch a tent, cook outdoors, and more. To make the time even more fun and enriching, you can make a campfire with s’mores and tell stories.
4. Get Crafty
To balance out screen time or reading time, infuse kids’ schedules with arts and crafts. There are a number of online craft classes your kids can join to include online drawing classes with illustrator Wendy MacNaughton. Although Wendy’s live classes have ended, you can still watch them on IGTV. Michaels is also hosting Camp Creativity through August 1 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. CT on Zoom.
5. Start a Summer Reading List
If you’ve never tried a summer reading list, it’s a great way to keep your kids’ minds engaged and prepped for the upcoming school year. You can find a number of summer reading lists online. Here are few we’ve rounded up:
6. Watch (or Host) Read Alongs
To help young learners with their reading skills, try video read alongs or host your own virtual read alongs with family and friends. PBS Kids has a range of video read alongs kids can listen to with special guests like Barack and Michelle Obama, Kristen Bell, Chris Kratt, and much more.
7. Go on a Virtual Road Trip
An alternative for an actual road trip is a virtual one, and Microsoft has you covered. Currently, they’re offering a host of virtual road trips to places like national parks, Europe, Africa, and others. These trips give your child a chance to learn more about places of the world and broaden their knowledge.
8. Go on a Real Road Trip
And if you’re able, take a real road trip to places like national parks and nature preserves. Some of the best childhood memories are those of nature walks and learning about different wildlife and plants. You can make this trip even more enriching by having your child write about their experience and what they learned.
9. Make a Splash with Swimming Lessons
Have a child that doesn’t know how to swim yet? If you have an outdoor pool, you can teach them the basics from holding their breath underwater to various swimming techniques. Check out our guide on pool safety to help your kids stay safe while learning.
10. Cook Up Some Favorites
Last but not least, you can teach your kids how to cook up some favorites with easy recipes. Of course, you’ll need to judge which cooking lessons are best-suited based on their ages. And, if you’re looking for a few easy recipes to whip up, the Raddish Cooking Camp Challenge Skill Booklet is a great free download to try.
Final Thoughts + Additional Resources
There are plenty of activities and summer camp alternatives you can try with your kids during this difficult period. We encourage you to help your kids understand the value of learning over the summer. As parents, it’s also great to look for ways to make these opportunities fun for them. Let us know how the learning goes!
If you’re looking for more resources on summer camp activities, you can check out these resources:
- Camp PBS Kids – PBS Kids
- 2020 Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge Book List – Scholastic
- 4-H At Home – 4-H
- 52 Best Virtual Summer Camp Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained This Summer – Good Housekeeping