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Child Doing a Somersault

I’ve never seen my daughter so happy as when she’s pushing a marshmallow onto a stick and holding it over a fire in our friend’s backyard. I’m sure Chloe will go to summer camp someday, but she’s a little young for it this summer. Just because camp is a few years away, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t love to participate in some classic camp activities. The solution? DIY summer camp.

OK, I don’t plan to provide a really rollicking late-night truth-or-dare session. But there are other aspects of summer camp that would be great to do at home or with friends, like arts and crafts, making s'mores, spending days at the lake, and scavenger hunts. For Chloe, who's an only child, it could be even more fun to invite friends and enlist parents to help create fun afternoons or even a whole weekend of activities. Here are some ideas:

  • Host a family field day: Round up your friends and their kids, either in your own backyard or at an open space like a park or playground, for a day of fun outdoor activities. Break into teams for old-school outdoor activities like capture the flag, egg toss, sack races, and tug-o-war. Also fun is a water bucket relay. Two teams have a relay-race to see which team can use a sponge to fill an empty bucket with water from a full bucket 100 yards away.
  • Make a day (or week) of it: Post a “camp schedule” on your fridge and let your kids see a day’s or week’s worth of activities that are coming up. Schedule things like arts and crafts in the morning, lunch outside, t-ball, an afternoon nature walk, or a scavenger hunt.
  • Get cooking: If you’ve got access to an outdoor fire pit, cook up some camp classics like roasted marshmallows for s’mores, corn on the cob, or just about anything (potatoes are great!) wrapped in aluminum foil and tossed onto the fire. And really intrepid outdoor cooks might take a page out of the Girl Scout camp manual and build a wine box oven; an internet search for instructions will yield step-by-step instructions.
  • Hit the lake: Venture to a nearby lake or pond for fishing, boating, and swimming. Just enjoy nature or take the time to learn about a few plant and animal species while you’re there.

What are some other ways to bring summer camp home? 

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Alex is a freelance lifestyle writer and sometimes-blogger. She loves spending time with her husband and five-year-old daughter, who are always willing to sample her kitchen successes (homemade taco seasoning) and failures (homemade mozzarella). She also loves to write, travel, cook, eat, and laugh loudly with friends.