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7 Timeless Summer Camp Activities for Kids

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This is a guest post by Lucy Gomez.

Here’s a list of 7 fantastic summer camp activities. Some of these may seem strange or silly, but that’s kind of the point, right? Give them a go and see how campers react. There’s no doubt the kids will love them and so will you. Some of these activities may also be suitable for a summer camp for toddlers in the future.

pool-noodle-olympicsPool Noodle Olympics

Pool noodles are seriously awesome. They float, they are light, they are safe and colorful. Just great! With a bit of duct tape and genius, you could create a wide range of Olympic level games out of them. Try turning the pool noodles into rings that you can use for an agility course, or into flying disks, or even into a target for pool noodle javelins (of course). Stoke that competitive spirit while keeping everyone safe (and it’s low cost).

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Extend The Olympics!

Why stop at pool noodle Olympics? Why not extend the day to include a full run of track and field games? If the weather is good, take up the field and really get the fire of competition burning. Try adding potato sack races, water balloon tosses, egg and spoon races, three-legged races, paper airplane distance competitions, and anything else you can think of. Better yet, organize the campers into teams or tribes, and prepare to see some serious tribal warfare!

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Tired Of The Olympics? Try Improv!

Okay, so the ultra-competitive Olympics may not be for everyone. That’s fine, maybe they are of a more dramatic persuasion. If that’s the case, then try improvisation. This allows kids who love to act to perform for their friends, and their friends get to enjoy a fun show! One of the classics is Balloon Charades. Write nouns (people, places, things) on bits of paper. Fold in half twice and stick them into the mouth of several balloons. Blow those up and tie the ends. Then place them into the middle of a group and have one child choose a balloon. They will pop the balloon and then act out the noun on the paper. Whoever guesses correctly gets to go next.

parachute-gamesCroc Pot Parachute Game

Not every camp will have a parachute, but every camp should. Have everyone wear a hat – this is important. Everyone participating places their shoes *not heavy ones* on top of the parachute. Then, get everyone on the outside and hold the sides. Slowly move the whole parachute up and down. When ready, tell everyone to lift it as quickly as possible and pull it down immediately after. Everyone’s shoes should fly high into the sky. Don’t know why, but kids love it.

Sonyabecca Parachute 12 Foot for Kids with 12 Handles Play Parachute for 8 12 Kids Tent Cooperative Games Birthday Gift
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Pigs Fly

This one is rather silly, so it’s great to break down those early days’ barriers and emotional shields. Get everyone together in a group, facing the leader. Have the campers pretend to “flap” by waving their arms up and down. The leader then calls out “ducks fly,” “owls fly, “pigs fly,” etc. If the animal called is one that flies, then everyone continues flapping. However, if the animal called doesn’t fly then the children stop flapping. If they don’t, they are out!

Catch, Don’t Catch

A personal favorite, this activity gets kids thinking fast and reacting faster. Have one person at a time stand in the middle of a circle of campers with a ball. They will look around the circle saying “catch” or “don’t catch.” Throwing the ball now and then. And if someone catches the ball thrown after the middle person said “don’t catch” then they are out. If, however, the person in the middle said “catch” and the other person did catch it, then they get to go in the middle. Keep going and speeding it up until only one person is left in the middle.

mandala-sandMandala Art

This is one way to take summer camp activities to the next level. You can make mandala art out of just about anything, including seashells, stones, colored sand, etc. The best way of making a camp activity out of this might be to have a large sketched page on a dedicated table. Carefully glue along the lines, a bit at a time, and slowly add colored sand along the lines. Otherwise, you could have kids take turns carefully adding a small part at a time out of paint or pencil. This one will require patience and determination. But the result is so satisfying. For best results, work on this a little at a time, over the course of the camp. By the final day, the full image will emerge and leave everyone speechless. You might even say it “transcends” other summer camp activities.

lucy-gomezLucy Gomez is the camp editor at She has been camping her entire life and is a place where campers can share everything they’ve learned along the (sometimes prickly) way in the wilderness.



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