What would you do if you could come up with a list of summer camp activities, that would make any camp director swoon?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing more and more of the parents contacting our camp thinking and saying the same thing.
Oh no, not another summer like last year, where your child sat inside all day complaining that there was nothing to do, while you fought as hard as you could just to get them off of their iPad.
Nope, not this year. We are going to give you a list of summer camp activities so engaging that your child will be bounding out of bed every morning, eagerly awaiting to hear what is on for the day.
Well, that’s the hope at least…
Bike Riding (with the family):
I know this one sounds obvious, and maybe you’ve tried it before but how about trying to tie something more relaxing into the activity to give it more appeal. For example, instead of saying let’s go for a family bike ride, how about burying the biking aspect in with “How about we go on a family picnic where I make your favourite lunch dish, and we go for a swim in the cool lake?”. When asked how you’ll get there, then you slide in the, Well, by bikes of course.
It’s been known that children, and teens of this day don’t get nearly enough exercise during the summer. Because not every child has the option for summer sports activities during the summer months, you’ll have to get creative ways to get children off of the couch at home, and out into the glorious summer sunshine. What better way to do this than by good old fashioned bike power.
Rock climbing wall at the local gym
Many gyms these days have a climbing wall right inside the gym. How about taking your child to the local gym? You’ll first need call them to find out if they have a climbing wall, but I bet you’ll be surprised that they do. Then the outing could be down to the local gym, where they often give you a free pass to check out and try the climbing wall. This is a great activity, and you may surprise yourself by finding your child has a knack for climbing that they never knew about. This happened to my sons friend last summer, and now he’s hooked.
Many of the rock walls have a free session for children where the children can train with a trained coach or expert, and they’ll lend you the shoes, harness and the ropes are already there. Just make sure to bring your own socks!
Friendship bracelets are really easy and fun to make. All you will need is some yarn, or coloured floss to weave together, some tape, and some fun doo dads to hang off the bracelets. I’ve seen children use beads, and other trinkets to make them more fun or personal. Even beads with letters, so they could put their friends name on the bracelet.
If you want to see a more detailed description of how to make these check out this site.
Homemade Ice Cream
Now what other thing reminds us more of summer than ice cream? And making your own ice cream, or even better, having your child or teen make ice cream is an age old summer activity that will be sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. You would be surprised at how easy it is to make, and even with only a few common household ingredients that you likely already have on hand.
2 -3 cups (16oz/450ml ) heavy whipping cream, cold
14 ounces (1 Can/ 400ml) sweetened condensed milk (fat-free or regular), cold
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (optional)
For additional flavours, you can go as crazy as you want. Think mango puree, strawberries, salted caramel, kiwi, the list goes on and on, and who can forget about chocolate sauce.
- Place sweetened condensed milk in the fridge to keep cold.
- Using a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cold cream on medium/high speed until soft peaks form.
- Pour the cold condensed milk into the whipped cream.
- Whisk until the mixture is thick and stiff peaks form. Then mix in your vanilla or other flavours that you like. How about some fresh blueberries that you might have picked from a nature hike that morning?
In case you didn’t know, this is what stiff peaks looks like. I was always confused by this term myself until I tried making ice cream and later a tiramisu. You’ll need to whip your ice cream mix until it reaches the consistency of the below.
Then, just stick in the freezer, wait a few hours and enjoy!
A few years ago, we went on a family vacation to Jamaica with a few other families. There was a simple game that was a ring, tied to an old piece of fishing line that you had to stand a few meters away from and swing it onto a spike stuck in a tree. Believe it or not, this simple game provided hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. Nevermind that the adults turned the activity into more of a frat party drinking game, it was still fun. Be creative and tie in some tricks or prizes into the mix, and you’ll have an instant and nearly free activity that can entertain children for a few hours the rest of the summer.
OK, this might be for the younger ones, but I’ve even seen the street performers standing at the stop lights trying to earn a few dollars with this one. It’s pretty fun to watch. The recipe is you’ll need is: 6 cups water, 1 cup corn syrup, and 2 cups regular strength dish soap. The corn syrup as you might have guessed is the key to allowing the bubbles to get really big.
Stir mixture into a shallow tub. Dip blower into solution, lift out, and blow. Or even run with the soapy mixture into the breeze and let a huge bubble fly. As you can see from this image, you can get some sticks and some string to make the area for the mixture to cling to. Then just add the breeze by running, and let those giant bubbles fly.
A makeshift puppet show
This activity is as easy as it sounds. Grab some old socks, paint some faces on them, and let your creativity run wild. You can even cut out some yarn and glue on a wig, or get as crazy as you want for the puppets themselves. Just do like you see in the movies and have your child hide behind a box or table that is turned on its side and reenact Shakespeare or be their silly selves. It may sound corny, but this one has brought our family and friend to tears as the children make up funny stories and enjoying bringing out the hidden thespian.
A family visit to a nearby historical site or museum
Oh, the horror, a museum and learning in the summer? But wait, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There are plenty of museums or historical sites that are a lot of fun to visit in the summer. Many museums these days have fun science experiments or educational how-tos to illustrate fun activities and lessons to children and teens.
Your own ropes labyrinth adventure park
You or your child / teen can make a labyrinth park.
What’s a labyrinth park you ask?
Well, it’s like a maze but labyrinths are designed so that you can’t take a wrong turn to get out. You walk through the labyrinth, and of course making it is the most fun part. The even better part is that this is likely a multi day project, and one that you can actually turn into a garden centerpiece if you want.
The first step is to draw out your design. To give you an idea, here is what a labyrinth could look like. Once you have a design you like, you’ll need to buy some rope and steel to construct the labyrinth. I told you this was a multi day project, but it doesn’t mean you need to construct in consecutive days, it could be done throughout the summer if you wanted. Once you have the rope and stakes, measure it out according to your diagram and hammer the stakes into the ground to attach the ropes. A more detailed explanation with all of the steps can be found on this excellent labyrinth making post.
Here’s what it could look like at the end of the creation.
Neighbourhood Football/Soccer match OR capture the flag
When we were growing up, we used to put together football/soccer matches all the time at the local school ground, or park that could accommodate the size needed. In fact, I’ve been doing this nearly my whole life. Even during beach vacations. We would just grab anything that could make a goal post (a shoe, a coconut, a stick stuck into the ground) whatever we could find. And voila, you have an instant impromptu football pitch. Now, start inviting the neighbours or your friends to come and play. You can make it more organised and create flyers, even game shirts for teams and with Moms bringing over a different snack for the children to have during the match.
The other really fun thing to do for all ages is capture the flag. With capture the flag you don’t even need a field, in fact, it’s better without a field. You can designate a loose area in the local forest or wooded section near your house. Organise into two teams, separate by age differences, boys, girls and create the boundary and general rules.
In case you don’t know the rules, they are quite simple. There is a flag that usually a person or persons stand near to guard. This is usually away from the front neutral area towards the front of the game area. Then there will be some offensive aspect of the team that will try and sneak into the other team’s area to try and capture the flag without being tagged. To get out or caught, you just need to be tagged by a member of the opposite team, while you are in “enemy territory”.
If a member of the opposite team tags you while trying to get the flag, you are put into “prison”. Usually a team of the defence then needs to guard the prisoners, because if a member of the offensive team tags a prisoner, all prisoners are released.
We have found both football/soccer matches and capture the flag to be equally as fun with adults and children of all ages playing together.
A nature treasure hunt
A lot of children and teens likely have done treasure hunts, but a natural treasure hunt is done with a natural twist. Examples of hints, or clues are below, but you can make it more natural by having the hunt be articles of nature. Examples could be pine cones, moss from trees, types of rocks, or different types of leaves.
Likely, your teen will be rolling their eyes at this one, but you can make it more fun by having a prize that you know they will enjoy.
A family hike
Being from the Swiss Alps, this is a hugely important family activity. It helps when you have some of the most stunning alpine and mountainous scenery in the world, but hikes are a great way to get outside and enjoy any type of environment. No matter where you live. There are many apps in the Apple app store or Google play store that will give you great information on where the best hiking areas are in your area. The app will tell you based on your physical fitness ability what is most appropriate, the length of the hike, what features you may want to visit (fishing, swim in a lake, reach a mountain peak).
Here’s picture of my sons and dog on a local hike near where we live. Not bad, eh?
Plus, tell you where to park to find the trailhead. You don’t need to live in Switzerland to enjoy a family hike, so go out and do some hiking or walking today.
Talent shows are great fun for the family. They can be as elaborate as you want them to be, by inviting your friends to take part, and even other families to put on competitions. Children and teens love the opportunity to show off their hidden talents, be they in singing, telling stories, playing instruments or acting out a play that they wrote. Maybe you have a comedian in your family, and this will give them a chance to shine. Jim Carrey used to put on stand-up every day after school, you’ll never know what you may find out about your child’s talents until you let them show them off.
Tapas, in case you’re not familiar with them, are small, sometimes even bite sized snacks with origins from Spain. In the Basque country, the area around the border of Spain and France, tapas are a way of life, and nearly all local restaurants serve them from lunch through to dinner. The idea of having a number of small dishes with a wide variety of choices has become so popular, tapas restaurants are opening up around the globe. Chances are you have even had them yourself while never having visited Spain.
At our camp, we make tapas and the campers love the idea having many options to choose to eat.
Here are a list of some of our favourites. And the good news, is that most of them are quite easy to make.
Spanish omelette – This is an egg dish with potatoes, olive oil, and other spices. If you want the exact recipe to make this one, you can check out this comprehensive tapas recipes.
Calamari – Any way you cut it, people love calamari, or fried squid. It may be a bit difficult to get if you’re located in a land locked area but the idea is some type of chewy white meat, cooked in a light tempura or batter, then complement with some lemon zest. Careful to make enough of this one, because it’s very popular.
A mix of local cheeses and hams – No matter where you live, you likely have access to cheese, try and go to the local butcher or gourmet shop to get some good ones. Traditionally, the cheeses that are used for this are Manchego or Mahon but you can make it with some different types that you like. Stiltons, goat cheese, strong cheddar cheese. Then compliment with some good bread, and some ham’s (Iberian cured ham is great if you can find it). Add some walnuts and some grapes, and you’ll have a real tapas dish.
Olives – That’s right, just plain olives and I usually find the ones that still have the pits inside them have the best flavour. If you take the pit out, for some reason some of the strong salty flavour is lost. Usually, it’s best to have a mix of olives, black and green and with different sizes.
Patatas Bravas – This just potatoes baked with a bit of paprika and spice sprinkled on before you place in the oven. To make it traditionally the Basque way, use some aioli sauce, which is made from mostly garlic and olive oil. Who doesn’t love those?
To get your creative juices flowing, here’s a shot of a plate that might get you inspired.
Well, this is just a few ideas that we think might be enough to motivate your child or teen up off of the couch, off of their iPad and out into the bright beautiful summer sun. We hope that you’ll find some inspiration from these ideas.
In case you are wondering where these ideas came from, many of these ideas are ones that we encourage or use with our own campers. We are an international summer camp located in the heart of the Swiss Alps. With children and communities from around the world, we have been entertaining children for more than 30 years. So we know a thing or two about how to keep children busy. Our camp actually runs from December through August too. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, or more about the ideas we wrote about, just hit the button below to get more information. We’d love to chat with you about these ideas, or even to hear some of your own.
Now go out and enjoy some summer sun!