In these times of social distancing and self-quarantining, summer camps, clubs, youth groups, and other youth organizations are looking to offer virtual activities and content for their community of kids and families. Whether you are using or plan to use Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or some other option to engage with them, here are 20 ideas that may help you out.
This is part 1 of a 5 part series. Be sure to check out all 100 ideas.
After hearing from camps that are doing virtual camp activities currently, the consensus is that live streaming gets much more views and engagement than pre-recorded videos.
Lead a Craft
There are a number of crafts that you can lead. I’d suggest you do it live, rather than pre-recorded, so you can help the kids if they get stuck. Plus it makes it more engaging.
As for supplies, there are three ways to go.
- You can lead instructions for crafts that only require items that can usually be found around the home.
- You can send parents a list of supplies needed well ahead of time so they can get them.
- Or you can mail out activity boxes with the supplies needed for multiple crafts.
If you need craft ideas, check YouTube and Pinterest.
Lead Camp Song Sing-Alongs Live
Go live and lead your favorite camp songs. I suggest not having everyone’s mic turned on if using a platform like Zoom. Instead, you can bring a couple of staff on screen as well as a couple of campers.
Create Pre-Recorded Sing-Alongs
Ask staff, and maybe campers, to record a specific camp song and send you the video. It’s easy to do with a cell phone. Then edit them all together for your audience to watch when they want. Here’s an example.
Create Digital Escape Rooms Using Google Forms
Creating a digital escape room is much easier than a real escape room. Create one and send a link to your kids so they can play it on their own time.
Hold a Basic Trivia Contest
Hold a trivia contest where viewers keep track of their own scores. Compare scores of everyone after each round. You can use a PowerPoint slide for each question, or just ask the questions yourself using a webcam.
Hold a Facebook Live Trivia Contest Using LiveReacting
LiveReacting is a very cool program where the host asks questions with multiple choice answers. Viewers type their answers in the comments and the software tallies them up and shows who got it right. There is a fee. but it’s worth taking a look at.
Dungeons and Dragons
Lead D&D dungeon crawls and other tabletop adventures using Roll20. Many teens are into these games and Roll20 makes it fun to lead s campaign. They have free and paid versions. Please note: It looks as though there is a bit of a learning curve to using the system. Of course, you don’t have to use Roll20. You can just play it on paper over Zoom or a similar platform.
Lead a Cooking Activity
You can show kids how to make ice cream, salad jars, or anything else that doesn’t require using knives, the stove or appliances like a blender. However, if the kids have parental supervision, or they are teens, the sky is the limit.
Lead a class on how to get the most of your smartphone camera using basic photography skills, filters, editing and more. Give them time to use their new skills and then hold a photo contest. Here are a couple of good articles to get you started.
Do the same as above except with video. Cover screenwriting, storyboarding, filming, editing, etc. At the end, you can hold a film festival full of 2-minute videos that the kids and teens submit. Have different age categories. Since the kids will have to use what they have, the film will need to be a one person cast or include only their immediate family. Or they can use their toys and stuffed animals as characters. You could even teach stop motion animation.
Play this tried and true game by showing a picture or showing your surroundings on video. Then say to your viewers, “I spy with my little eye something (blue, round, that starts with a “P”, etc.)”. Use the color of the object, the shape of it or the first letter of the object. The kids can type their answers and questions in the chat.
Alternatively, you can layout a bunch of small objects and ask viewers to find specific items similar to what they do in the I Spy books.
Another way to play on Zoom is to have everyone on screen and then choose something in one of the viewer’s backgrounds as the object.
Video nature walks at your camp or nearby area. If you can do it live, have viewers ask questions and choose which path you take. Have a couple of staff dress as woodland creatures or fictional woodland characters. They can talk about wildlife and conservation efforts.
Send campers a kit, or email parents a supply list, and hold a class on planting seeds and growing a plant. Or go bigger and help them create their own small garden.
Read a Story
Choose a short book and read it using different voices for each character.
Alternatively, if you have year-round staff available, read the story and have them act it out. You could also ask the kids to write short stories to be read and acted out.
Easy Science Projects
Lead kids in some science experiments. Make sure they have the supplies they need ahead of time or send them a science kit. You’ll want to choose experiments that are easy and are not dangerous, obviously. Be a crazy character or just be yourself but exaggerated. Make it fun. Check out the Science Buddies website, Steve Spangler’s Home Experiments, or do a search of YouTube videos for kids science experiments. You’ll find videos like this one.
Easy Engineering Projects
Lead some easy engineering projects. There are all sorts of projects kids can do using items in their house. You can also have them buy kits and then work through them live with you or your staff. Start with this site for some ideas.
Minute to Win It Challenges
Give kids a list of items they’ll need ahead of time. Include instructions on each challenge so they can practice a bit and prepare for the fun. You can find Minute to Win It challenges online.
On the day of the event, have kids go one at a time or a few at a time. Let them complete the challenge and record their time (instead of giving them just 60 seconds). The winners get points or a prize like a camp button or something small that can be mailed.
Teach Some Magic Tricks
Have kids grab a deck of cards and teach them some easy card magic. Alternatively, you can send a magic kit to the kids and include some easy prop magic, as well. I’ll bet there is someone on your staff who knows some magic or is willing to learn. Make sure you start the class off with the Magician’s Oath.
Flipgrid is used in schools, but can easily be adapted as part of your virtual camp. The best part is that it’s free. Create a Grid and a topic. Set the length of the response videos (90 seconds for example). Now your campers have 90 seconds to record a response to your topic which can be a question or a challenge.
There are lots of videos on YouTube and you can also find help on the Flipgird website and on many teacher blogs. When looking for instructions, either by video or text, search for the most current ones. It seems Flipgrid has gone through a lot of changes over just the past few years and much of the “how to get started on Flipgrid” info out there is outdated. Flipgrid is definitely worth a look for your virtual program.
You’ve got a bunch of campers on-screen using Zoom and you want to play a game that is easy, well known and fun. Try Bingo. Most kids know how to play it and most enjoy it. You can have different versions like Disco Bingo, Nature Bingo, Excited Bingo, etc.
There are a lot of free Bingo card generators online. But if you want to eliminate the need for parents and kids to print cards, I would suggest you have the kids draw their own.