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18 Ways to create your own summer camp at home

From activities that make a splash to ideas for crafts, discover tips on how to throw a DIY summer camp at home.

Create summer camp crafts

Even the most active kids need a break, so get kids to settle down for a bit and exercise their creativity. These ideas for summer camp crafts are not only fun, they make great mementos of your DIY summer camp.

  • You can’t go wrong with classic summer camp craft ideas like making bead-bottom t-shirts, braiding lanyards or painting birdhouses.
  • Make your own twinkle lights in jars.
  • Help younger “campers” create dream catchers by cutting out the center of a paper plate, lacing the hole with string, hanging beads and feathers from the bottom and decorating the plate with stickers and gems.
  • Keep crafting cool with chilly summer ice cube crafts for kids.
  • Craft your own camper uniforms by helping your kiddos tie-dye t-shirts.
  • Make summer camp crafts that also double as summer camp decor like these easy-breezy DIY summer pinwheel crafts for kids.

Playing with sprinklers |

Photo credit: Blend Images – Mike Kemp/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Set up a backyard water park

Keeping cool is your kids’ number one priority during summer, so plan lots of water fun for your DIY summer camp. And, it doesn’t need to include a trip to the pool or purchasing a lot of equipment either.

  • Create a custom splash pad by drilling holes into lengths of PVC pipe, linking them together and attaching them to your hose.
  • Skip the tedious water balloons and make your own urchin sponge balls.
  • Make your own waterslide using a tarp, your hose and a small hill in your backyard.
  • For those lucky families who have their own pool, make an even bigger splash with kids this summer by adding in pool activities like Ping-Pong ball toss into an inflatable ring or a floating game like Airhead Lob The Blob Game (Sport Chalet, $40).
  • Weigh down hula hoops in the pool for affordable “swim through the hoop” fun.
  • Don’t have your own swimming hole? Kids can still keep cool in pint-sized waterslides and pools like the Intex Kid’s Dinosaur Play Swim Center (Sport Chalet, $65).

Summer is for fun, but keeping your kids school-ready this summer is easy >> 

Children playing soccer |

Photo credit: Gallo Images – LKIS/Getty Images

Encourage a little healthy competition

When planning a summer camp at home, camp-style games are a must to keep kids active and entertained. Whether you have two kids or two teams, these summer camp games will get those competitive juices flowing.

  • Stack up two sets of plastic cups and see which team can knock their own cups down the quickest with squirt guns or water cannons.
  • Take sides with classic summer games such as three-legged relays, egg tosses, slip-and-slide races or other outdoor games for family fun.
  • Create your own campfire-side games like nighttime ring toss using glow sticks for posts and glow bracelets for the rings.
  • Whip up a few homemade games like sponge scrabble or one of these family-friendly games for summer parties that make perfect summer camp activities, too.
  • Set up your own rain gutter regatta using two rain gutters filled with water, homemade paper boats with sails and powered by your youngsters blowing through straws.
  • Kick off your summer with sporty summer camp activities like a neighborhood soccer match with an Adidas Starlancer Soccer Ball (Sport Chalet, $16) and Franklin MLS Insta-Set Soccer Goal (Sport Chalet, $25).

Still sending your kids to summer camp? Get tips on how to handle summer camp anxiety >>

You don’t have to spend a bundle by sending your kids off to summer camp. With these ideas for summer camp activities and camp crafts, your DIY summer camp at home can be fun for everyone — including you.

More summer camp tips

Summer camp packing checklist
Camps for special needs and special interests
Care packages for kids at camp

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