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The Overworked Parent’s Guide for How to Do Summer Camp at Home

Did you get to attend summer camps as a child? The only camps I was ever allowed to attend as a child were run by churches, which was fun at the time, but I never got to really experience camp the way I wanted to.

That’s why I think I’m so interested in summer camps now that I have my own kids. But regular summer camps can be so expensive. And you always hear horror stories of kids getting injured while at camp.

So, to give my kids the camp experience without the danger or expense, we started doing summer camps at home.

And now, I’m showing you step-by-step how to do summer camp at home, too!

Learn how to do summer camp at home. It's easier than you think!  Low-prep themes for every age group and interest!

How to Do Summer Camp at Home

If you’re wondering how to do summer camp at home, you’re not alone, and you can do it!

Running your own DIY summer camp can be a challenge, but if you approach it logically and step-by-step, you’ll find it’s no longer overwhelming and you’ll be able to pull off more than you could imagine!

Keep reading to find out how to start a summer camp in your own backyard.

How to Start a Summer Camp at Home

You don’t have to be an educator or even some kind of superhero to run your own summer camp.

Whether you just want to set up a “home camp” with your own kiddos, or feel inspired to host something for the whole street, doing a summer camp at home really isn’t as hard as it seems! Follow these directions to create your own backyard summer camp, and then check out our summer camp theme ideas below!

steam summer cmap

Step 1: Pick a STEM Summer Camp Curriculum

The first thing you’ll need to do when making a DIY summer camp at home is to pick a summer camp curriculum. There are so many ideas to pick from. Our favorites are our STEM summer camp curriculum and colors summer camp for the younger kiddos.

But of course, there are a lot more summer camp curriculum options out there!

The best way to start looking is to think about what things your kids are into. A few years ago, my kids were super into Pokemon, so we did a Pokemon summer camp. This year, they would probably pick an Among Us themed summer camp.

After reading all the directions on making a summer camp at home, you’ll find links to a bunch of fun summer camp themes and ideas to try based on your children’s interests and ages.

Step 2: Set a Schedule

Decide when you’ll do your camp. Maybe you take a few days off of work and have those as your “camp” days.

Or maybe you decide that every Friday night during the summer you’ll do one “day” of camp.

Or maybe you even invite a few of your kids’ friends along and do your summer camp together on the weekends.

What matters is that you set aside a specific time for your at home camp activities or you won’t actually do them. And that would be sad!

Step 3: Get Some Help

It can be overwhelming to do all the camp activities alone. Grab your partner or a friend and host your backyard summer camp together! Or maybe you have a teen you can bribe to help you out with the promise of fresh brownies or an extra hour to sleep in on the weekends.

Step 4: Gather Supplies

Make sure you have everything you need for the camp before you get started. It’s just going to stress you out if you have to run back and forth from home to the store or frantically search the house for missing supplies while you’re trying to do the activities with your kids.

Having everything gathered in advance makes such a difference!

Step 5: Have Fun!

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing an at home summer camp or a professional summer camp, things will go wrong. But if you expect them to go wrong and stay positive, you can have a lot more fun.

After all, you’re trying to make memories with your kiddos, not get mad at them because they spilled the brads.

As they say, “when the parents aren’t happy, nobody’s happy.”

There are so many summer camp themes, but not everything is feasible to do at home. The best summer camp themes for home will be easy-to-do, not cost an arm and a leg, and be related to something that your kids love!

The Best Summer Camp Themes to Try at Home!

There are so many summer camp themes, but not everything is feasible to do at home. The best summer camp themes for home will be easy-to-do, not cost an arm and a leg, and be related to something that your kids love!

STEM Summer Camp Themes

We really love STEM summer camp themes. That’s because we’re a STEM family! Science, technology, engineering, and math are our things, and we always want to do more and more. Check out these super fun STEM summer camp themes to try.

Summer Camp Activities for Elementary Students

If you want some classic summer camp activities, you can’t go wrong with these summer camp activities for elementary students!

Summer Camp Science Activities

Get down to the nitty-gritty (not really) of science camp with these summer camp science activities! Best of all, they don’t require weird supplies or electricity at all. Do them anywhere indoors or out!

Summer Camp STEM Activities

Ok, so maybe you don’t have time to do a whole camp. But you still want some activities to do. So these individual summer camp STEM activities will definitely get you through!

STEM Summer Camp Ideas

We love thinking of creative STEM summer camp ideas, like our fairy tale STEM activities and circus science experiments. Out-of-the box STEM camp ideas are what keep kids excited to learn new things. And that’s especially important in the summer!

Summer Camp Lesson Plans

Activities are one thing, but what if you need real summer camp lesson plans? Of course, there are a lot of lesson plans out there, and most of them are really great! But if you want something really detailed, our STEAM summer camp will make you very happy.

virtual stem camp for kids

Backyard Summer Camp Ideas

We live in Texas, so doing a summer camp outside is impossible unless it’s at night, but a lot of you live in much friendlier places than we do. For you guys, we have this collection of backyard summer camp ideas.

I’m partial to these exploding paint bombs.

Preschool Summer Camp Themes

One age group that often gets left out of the summer camp discourse is preschoolers! But preschoolers love activities just as much as older kids.

If your kids aren’t quite old enough to attend “real” summer camp, you’ll love this list of preschool summer camp themes. One of our favorites is the colors preschool summer camp!

Summer Camp Themes for Elementary

Elementary kids are so much fun. I really enjoy doing hands-on activities with this age group. And hosting a summer camp for elementary kids is even more fun. Check out these summer camp themes for elementary that I know they will love! DIY Math Summer Camp Activities are super fun for this age group!

School Age Summer Camp Themes

Your kids are school age and you need a theme to try for your summer camp! These school age summer camp themes will keep kiddos who are school-aged very happy and away from Roblox at least for an hour or two. The Fortnite theme is one of my favorites for school-aged kids.

Summer Camp Themes for Middle Schoolers

I was going to put my middle school daughter into an in-person summer camp this year, but then I saw the price tag. Something about kids aging into the teen years suddenly makes them extremely expensive!

Even though we usually just do activities with our little kids and school-aged kids, middle school kids love to also have fun doing hands-on projects. These summer camp themes for middle schoolers will have them laughing with you in no time. One of my favorite summer camp themes for middle schoolers is Pokemon summer camp.

It’s a great way to bond with those older kids who usually just ignore us and stay in their rooms all day.

steam summer cmap

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