If you are starting a camp for kids or preparing for another summer of fun, thinking of exciting, new, and enriching summer camp activities is an important use of time. Whether you are running a day camp, sleepaway camp, or virtual camp, you need to keep children engaged, and having fun throughout the day. This means you’ll need a lot of activities to fill those hours!
To help inspire you as you build your schedules and organize your summer camp curriculum and lesson plans, the team at Sawyer has outlined some of our favorite summer camp activities for kids, including great summer camp games and crafts as well as indoor and outdoor camp activities. Just make sure you have health and safety at the forefront! Check out our guide on summer camp safety procedures to ensure everyone has fun and stays safe all summer. Looking for more support to jumpstart your camp? Use our ultimate guide to starting and running a kids camp.
Summer camp activities
Summer camp games
Games are an excellent way to get children excited and engaged at summer camp. There are lots of different types of summer camp games that can be played virtually or in person to help children get to know one another, learn new things, and have fun together.
At the start of the summer, children might feel a little shy when meeting their fellow campers. Help them make new friends by doing some icebreakers, which will give the campers a chance to learn about their peers and find connections. Here are some of our favorite icebreaker games with even more in our guide!
- The name game. Have each child say their name and something they love that starts with the same letter. Go around the circle and try to remember each person’s name and favorite thing.
- This or that. It’s like “Would you rather?” but for children! Give them 2 options and have them choose which they prefer. For example, “Swimming or hiking”, “Sweet or salty”, and “Day or night.”
- Two truths and a lie. In this game, children make three statements and one is false. The rest of the campers have to guess which is the lie. It’s a great way for the children to get to know one another and have fun in the process.
Socially distant games
These summer camp games will keep children at a safe distance from one another while still maintaining the fun of camp. Ideally, you can maximize the safety by playing outdoors as well! Check out our guide for even more socially distant summer camp games.
- Noodle tag. This is like regular tag, except that the child who is “It” uses a pool noodle to tag other players. That way, children stay far enough apart while still having a great time.
- Simon says. This is a great socially distant summer camp game because the children can be far apart from one another while waiting for instruction from “Simon.” If they get out, just have them sit where they were standing and wait for a new game to start.
- Freeze dance. It’s easy to make freeze dance socially distant because children need at least 6 feet between them and the next child so they can really boogie!
We love circle games because they can be played in-person and virtually. You just need to gather all of the children in a circle, if they are in person, or on a Zoom call, if they are online, and play. Circle games often require teamwork and they are great if you have shy campers who might not jump to the front of the line for another type of game.
- 3-6-9 clap. In this game, children are not allowed to say 3, 6, 9, or any multiple of those numbers. Because it requires math, this game is best with older children. To play, children go around in a circle and count upwards but when they reach a multiple of 3, they clap instead. If they mess up or take too long, they are out and the count starts over again.
- Picnic. To play this game, children go around the circle and say, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…” and then an item that starts with A, then B, then C. Children have to remember each item before the letter they are on. If they forget, they are out!
- Frogger. First, designate a child as the detective and have them leave the circle. Then, have all of the children close their eyes and tap one child who will be the “frogger.” If you are online, you can direct message that child on Zoom. The frogger’s goal is to stick their tongue out as discreetly as possible at one child at a time, which will “freeze” them. The detective has to try to figure out who the frogger is.
Summer camp crafts
Arts & crafts and summer camp go together like marshmallows and chocolate. They are a fun way to keep children having fun without getting too tired in the hot sun. Plus, parents love to see the creations that come home with their children. Here are some of our favorite summer camp arts & crafts to give you inspiration as you plan.
- Clothespin dragonfly. Children can decorate a clothespin with paint or markers, sparkles, glitter, and stickers then fold over and glue pipe cleaner wings to the side to make their very own dragonflies.
- Water gun paintings. Fill water guns with a mixture of watercolor or washable paints and water, then set up a canvas on an easel and let the little ones fire away. Children will have fun painting in an unconventional way and the results are really interesting!
- DIY bird feeders. Children can make their own bird feeders by sliding Cheerios onto pipe cleaners and then leaving them out for the birds to feast upon. This is a great way to combine arts & crafts with nature and science.
- Friendship bracelets. Teach children how to make different types of knots and braids or let them make up their own! Include lots of options for colors as well as fun beads to make their bracelets really shine.
- Duct tape wallets. This is a great summer camp craft for older children. Buy duct tape in fun designs and colors and then teach them how to make duct tape wallets that they can use all summer long. Use this guide to instruct them.
Indoor camp activities
Whether it’s a rainy day or you are running a virtual summer camp, knowing how to keep children having fun while indoors is vital. Check out some of our favorite indoor camp activities so your campers can have a good time no matter where they are.
- Sing-alongs. Younger children love singing songs and, luckily for you, often know a lot of the same songs. Therefore, having a sing-along is a great way to keep your little campers entertained and active while indoors. If your camp is virtual, it might be best to mute the other children because less is more on Zoom.
- Movies & books. With older children, indoor time is often a good opportunity for them to relax and unwind. Spending all day with other children can be taxing socially, so putting on a movie or having them read by themselves can give them (and you!) a chance to recharge. If you’re watching a movie, just make sure you choose something that is appropriate for the youngest child in the room.
- Dance time. If you are looking for indoor camp activities that are still active and engaging for children, dancing has you covered. You can either teach a choreographed dance or you can just put on music and let the children dance and move however they would like.
- Trivia. This is a great activity for online and in-person indoor time. Write Jeopardy! or Who Wants to be a Millionaire questions and let the children work out their brains. You can include some camp themed questions as well as questions about things children love right now like Roblox, LEGO, and more.
- Games. If you are in-person with your campers, pull out the board games, deck of cards, and puzzles and let the children have fun with their friends. If you are online, try virtual games like Dungeons & Dragons and Minecraft.
Outdoor camp activities
A lot of the joy of camp comes from spending hours outside playing and learning. After being cooped up at home and in school, these outdoor camp activities are a great way for children to reconnect with nature and have fun outside.
- Sports. Traditional sports like tennis, soccer, swimming, and baseball are common outdoor camp activities for children of all ages. However, you can also play sports like pickleball, kickball, dodgeball, and capture the flag to get campers outside and moving.
- Nature walks. Show children the beauty all around them by taking them on nature walks. Let them know what to look out for on their adventure and teach them about what they are seeing. You can even have them collect leaves, twigs, and other materials to use later on for an arts & crafts project!
- Water games. No pool, no problem! Slip-n-slides, water balloon fights, and water bucket relay races are all examples of fun water games that children can play to stay cool and have fun in the hot summer weather.
- Tie dye. Is it really summer camp if children don’t come home with something tie dye? This is a great outdoor camp activity because you can minimize the mess.
- Campfires. Tell stories, make s’mores, and sing campfire songs together. Just make sure that you bundle the children up to protect against mosquitos. Plus, before roasting marshmallows, record all of the children’s allergies at summer camp so you keep everyone safe.
With this list of summer camp activities, you should have all of the inspiration you need to run a fun, enriching, and inclusive camp for children of all ages. Whether your business focuses on day camp, sleepaway camp, or virtual camp, the tools and software offered by Sawyer for Business will increase your sales and reduce your time spent on administrative tasks. See how it works with a free trial or demo today. Interested but not sure how to start a summer camp? Check out our guide!