Educator Resources

Activities for hot summer days at camp | Indoor & outdoor

One of the many joys of summer camp is the seemingly endless time spent outside. Children (and adults!) love that they get to frolic in the sunshine and take advantage of the many benefits of warm weather. 

But, what do you do when it is too hot out? And how do you know what is too hot for the campers? As a camp owner, ensuring that your campers and staff are safe is one of the most important parts of your job. Creating summer camp safety procedures and plans is an important element of success.

At Sawyer, our goal is to help camp owners and educators spend less time on administrative tasks and more time with their campers and students. In this article, we will cover important summer heat safety tips and then outline our favorite activities for hot summer days at camp, both outdoors and indoors. Your campers will have a great time this summer no matter the weather!

Summer heat safety tips

Knowing when the temperature is too high for children should be part of your camp counselor training program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines extreme heat as, “summertime temperatures that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for a location at that time of year. Children, especially children who are physically active, are at a higher risk for heat related-illnesses."

Use these summer heat safety tips to ensure your campers are avoiding heat-related illnesses during the hottest days of the year.

  • Make sure water is easily available. Every child at your camp should have their own refillable water bottle and they should be encouraged to drink water as much as possible. Especially if your camp is located somewhere with a lot of humidity, hydration is important to protect children (and staff) from heat exhaustion and worse.
  • ~Did you know? The CDC recommends drinking 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15–20 minutes if you are working or active in a hot environment.
  • Ensure campers are wearing appropriate clothing for the weather. Encourage campers to wear lightweight, flowing clothing in light colors when the weather is hot. This helps keep their body temperature cooler so they are more comfortable.
  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Every camper should wear and reapply sunscreen according to the directions on the bottle. Avoiding sunburn is a good way to keep your campers happy, plus sunburn impedes the body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Make use of shade, indoor time, and water activities. When the weather is extremely hot, reduce intense physical activity like sports and running and focus on more passive games. If you have access to an indoor space with air conditioning or fans, bring the campers inside. If not, try to get them to a water source, even if it is a hose or sprinkler to cool them down.
  • Train staff to recognize the signs of heat related illnesses. When your staff can see the signs, they can take charge and help your campers before they become sick. 
  • ~Heat rash: Raised bumps and skin irritation
  • ~Heat cramps: Muscle spasms, pain, and cramps in the arms, legs, and stomach
  • ~Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, clammy skin, fast and weak pulse, weakness, nausea and vomiting, and fainting
  • ~Heat stroke: This is the most serious heat related illness and it can be fatal. People suffering from heat stroke have a high body temperature, hot and potentially red skin, rapid and strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness. 

The CDC has a free course called “Recognizing, Preventing, and Treating Heat Related Illness” that the American Camp Association (ACA) recommends staff members take before and during the summer.

Photo of summer heat safety tips

What to do when it’s hot outside at camp

Now that you have insight into how to protect your campers and staff from heat related illness, you can start to think about safe activities for hot summer days at camp. If your camp does not have access to indoor spaces and you can’t take the campers off grounds, don’t worry! There are plenty of low-energy outdoor activities so campers can have fun even when the temperatures are high.

  1. Go swimming. If you have access to a swimming pool, lake or river, or the ability to travel to one, swimming is one of the best outdoor activities for hot summer days at camp. Just remember that your campers should still be drinking lots of water. Even if they don’t feel hot because they are swimming, they still need to be hydrated.
  2. Have a water balloon fight. What’s better than throwing water balloons at your friends? Children love water balloon fights and staff love that it keeps the campers cool during the hot summer days.
  3. Play in the sprinklers. With younger campers, sprinklers can be a great way for them to cool down and have fun. Plus, they love the rainbows!
  4. Sit in the shade and play a passive game. Games like frogger, picnic, and Simon Says are great for hot summer days. Check out our guide with summer camp activities and games for the rules and more passive game and activity ideas.
  5. Experiment with science. Another great passive activity for children is discovering science. They can work with their counselors to clean rocks, explore densities, build rockets, and so much more. Use our guide with science lessons, experiments, and projects for kids to get started.
Photo of activities for hot summer days

Indoor summer camp activities

If your camp has indoor space with air conditioning units or fans, then letting the campers spend some time inside is a good idea when the weather is too hot. Here are some of our providers’ favorite indoor summer camp activities to beat the heat.

  1. Have fun with arts & crafts. Get the campers together and break out the sparkles, paper, scissors, and paint so that they can flex their creative muscles and give their physical muscles a break. Use our guide with tips and lesson plans for teaching art to kids as inspiration.
  2. Watch a movie. Sometimes, the best thing to do when it’s too hot is turn off the lights and put on a movie. Make sure you choose something age-appropriate for all of the campers in the room.
  3. Organize a trivia competition. If you are indoors and looking for something to do that will stretch your campers’ minds, trivia is a good option! Ask questions and award prizes for the most correct answers. You’ll be surprised by how much they know.
  4. Play cards. Depending on how old your campers are, they might not be able to play anything more intense than Go, Fish, but they will still have fun! Playing cards is a classic game, perfect for days that are too hot to do much else.
  5. Read. Encourage your campers to pull out their summer reading books and get some pages down! This is a great way for the children to conserve energy and recharge before heading back out into the hot sun. If you want to make it even more fun for them, download our printable summer reading chart!
Photo of indoor summer camp activities

We hope this list of activities for hot summer days at camp has provided you with inspiration and useful tips to keep your campers safe and having fun no matter the weather. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help. 

With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo

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