The sun is shining, the temperatures are climbing, and school is officially out for summer. For many kids, that means heading to summer camp. Whether it’s day camp or sleepaway camp, there are plenty of fun activities to keep your campers busy. Check out our favorite water activities to beat the heat, sports and games to blow off some steam, and crafts to encourage creativity. Plus, don’t forget about all the fun your group can have around the campfire, from s’mores to skits! Check out our list of the best summer camp activities for kids.
1. Make a rope friendship bracelet
We love how relatively minimal materials are since all you will need are seven strands of yarn (each 2 feet long), one piece of recycled cardboard, and a pair of scissors. Your kids will be amazed at how simple the braiding of the rope becomes once you create your homemade braiding disc.
Learn more: Homemade Gifts Made Easy/Friendship Bracelet
2. Make a paracord “buddy” key ring
No list of summer camp activities would be complete without a paracord craft like this one. This “buddy” key ring is adorable and would be perfect for slightly older campers since it requires more advanced hand-eye coordination.
3. Create your own camping lantern or tent night-light
During the days and weeks leading up to your camping trip, you’ll want to save up some clear juice bottles. First, have kids rip up tissue paper and attach it to the bottle using Mod Podge. Once dry, kids can decorate them with stickers. Finally, add a handle using two pipe cleaners and some beads. Battery-operated tea lights make for the perfect light for camping, but you’ll want to be sure they fit in the opening at the top.
Learn more: JJ and the Bug/Camping Crafts Lanterns
4. Create a pretend glowing campfire
This craft is so simple and yet so perfect for a camping craft. We also love all these creative uses for battery-operated tea lights!
Learn more: Buggy and Buddy/Glowing Campfire Craft
5. Turn leaves into art
This fun craft is an oldie but a goodie. We especially love that all you will need are some crayons (bonus for the kind that don’t have wrappers) and some paper. Go on a nature hike beforehand so kids can gather their favorite leaves.
Learn more: Kitchen Table Classroom/Easy Crayon Leaf Rubbing
6. Catch fish with a homemade device
Summer camp activities almost always include fishing so why not add your homemade twist to the mix? Kids will get a kick out of trying to catch fish with their homemade rod.
Learn more: Instructables/How To Make a Fishing Can
7. Find and paint rocks
Painting rocks and leaving them along nature trails at camp will bring smiles to your campers’ faces.
Learn more: Painted Rock Ideas
8. Spend time in the aqua zone
This is basically just unstructured water play, so get some buckets of water, a hose, and maybe some sponges to throw at one another.
9. Try paddleboarding
Paddleboarding is not only a fun water activity, it will also promote balance, increase arm, leg, and core strength, and improve endurance.
Learn more: Run Wild My Child
10. Hop in a canoe
Summer camp activities almost always include some type of paddling so why not hop in a canoe and explore?
11. Enjoy some water balloon fun
Water balloons are truly the gift that keeps on giving since there are countless fun games you can play with them!
12. Practice your swimming strokes
Swimming is part of any good itinerary of summer camp activities. Whether kids are just learning or more advanced, swimming has many healthy benefits. Just be sure to go over water safety first so everyone stays safe!
13. Make an ice mold
All you need to make this fun activity come to life is good old-fashioned water, a freezer, and some toys that you already have on hand! Kids will have a ball excavating their favorite plastic dinosaur or toy car.
Learn more: Parents
14. Jump rope but with a twist
The premise of this fun water game is so simple yet so fun. Each player gets a cup of water that they hold while taking 10 jumps over a jump rope. The player with the most water in their cup at the end is declared the winner!
Learn more: Parents
Classic Summer Camp Activities
15. Pitch a tent
Regardless of whether you’re camping overnight or not, learning to pitch a tent is an important camping skill.
16. Mark your target
Not every summer camp will have an archery range, but if your camp does, you will want to take advantage of it. Learning archery is rewarding for everyone from elementary-school-age kids through adults!
17. Build a campfire
Building a campfire is a staple of any camping experience, so you will definitely want to include it on your list of summer camp activities. You can even have kids try their hand at starting a fire using flint and a pocketknife, but you’ll want to supervise closely!
18. Toast marshmallows and make s’mores
Everyone who has ever attended a camp of any sort is sure to have memories of toasting marshmallows and making yummy s’mores!
19. Perform campfire skits
There’s nothing better than performing skits around the campfire. Try our personal favorite, The Invisible Bench, at your next campout!
20. Sing campfire songs
Singing songs around a campfire is a great way to get everyone involved in the fun, so check out some of our favorites!
Learn more: Best Camp Songs for Kids of All Ages
21. Tell spooky stories around the campfire
There are plenty of campfire stories that are just the right amount spooky and fun for kids.
Learn more: Spooky Campfire Stories for Kids
22. Learn pocketknife safety and practice whittling
Most basic camping equipment includes a pocketknife. Even kids as young as 8 can learn basic knife safety. Practice carving on dried soap bars.
23. Go on a nature hike
Certainly no list of summer camp activities would be complete without including a nature hike. Kids love a good hiking stick, so let them pick out the biggest stick they can find to take along.
24. Learn the basics of using a compass
Spend some time teaching kids the basics of using a compass and then let them practice orienting with one.
Games To Build Comradery
25. Play the hand game
This is a fun way to break the ice with a new group of campers and get everyone laughing in no time!
26. Hold a sleeping bag race
This one is kind of like a potato sack race, but with sleeping bags instead! Everyone stands inside their sleeping bag at the starting line and then races to be the first one to finish! You can make it even more fun by doing two to a sleeping bag!
27. Play Capture the Flag
No one should leave a camping trip without playing at least one round of Capture the Flag. Be the first to capture your opponent’s flag and bring it back to your base!
28. Play flashlight tag
The only thing better than tag is tag played at night with flashlights!
29. Compete in a game of tug-of-war
Tug-of-war is a classic camp game because it is just so much fun! It is also a great way to get kids excited about working together as a team.
30. Play a round or two (or three) of SPUD
This fun game will help campers become acquainted with one another since they have to use each other’s names to play.
31. Partner up and play Cat’s Cradle
Cat’s Cradle is the perfect camp activity since it requires minimal materials to play (really just some string and a partner). We especially love the teamwork required to be successful!
32. Engage the reflexes
This is a fun game that can be played without any equipment and regardless of the size of your group. Snatch fingers before yours get snatched!
33. Play card games
Whether it’s classic card games like Go Fish or newer ones like Guess in 10, there are plenty of options to keep your campers busy when they’re sitting around the campfire.
Learn more: Fun and Educational Card Games for Kids
34. Play board games
Board games are great rainy-day summer camp activities for kids.
35. Hold a field day
Campers can’t get enough competitive outdoor games? Organize a field day!
Learn more: Best Field Day Games
Do you have any favorite summer camp activities? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out 38 Awesome Team-Building Games and Activities for Kids.