9 Summer Camp Alternatives to Keep Kids Entertained Throughout Summer

Explore exciting summer camp alternatives that offer unique experiences and opportunities for growth outside traditional camp settings.

Summer is the season on every child’s mind. When the sun is at its highest and weeks are at their hottest, kids buzz with energy and excitement, ready to take on the day. 

Naturally, this season can be challenging for caregivers. When school is out, and your kids have more free time, how do you balance work and home while keeping them engaged? 

Don’t sweat just yet. Below, we’ll explore how to bring the best of summer camp to your backyard and offer additional learning and growth activities that your kids can look forward to all summer long.


How to Make Summer Camp at Home

Recreating the splendor of sleepaway camp is about getting creative and thinking outside the box. Infusing your child’s day with campouts and cookouts, communal get-togethers, and even virtual craft classes.

#1 DIY Camp Activities

Struggling to think of things to do with your kids today? Try a DIY camp activity! Incorporating traditional summer activities into your child’s day is a creative and clever way to give them the quintessential summer camp experience without the distance. Stocking up on a few simple materials can deliver a delightful camp-themed day for: 

  • Tye dye t-shirts, socks, and bandanas 
  • Weave friendship bracelets with beads and string
  • Dedicate an hour to face painting 
  • Organize a neighborhood capture-the-flag tournament 

#2 Backyard Camping

Few things can feel more thrilling for children than sharing a bedroom with bugs, bats, and birds during the summer months. Soak up this summer essential by setting up a campsite for your kids right in your backyard. To perform this classic seasonal pastime, you’ll need: 

  • Tent 
  • Sleeping bags 
  • Flashlights
  • Warm camping blankets for cool nights

Roast hotdogs and s’mores over a bonfire or your kitchen stove. Sharing urban legends and thrilling tales deepens this home-away-from-home summer camp experience. 

#3 Nature Exploration

Supporting your child’s curiosity about the natural world isn’t just a quick way to get them off the couch. Studies show that proximity to greenery can improve mental health in adults and kids. A child’s brain is especially impressionable, and there’s no better time to get them outside than when the days are long and the nights are balmy. 

Try these exciting outdoor activities for kids:

  • Star gazing 
  • Hiking 
  • Bird watching 
  • Dips in local swimming holes and beaches 


Virtual Camp Experiences

Technology can be a hot-button topic for caregivers as kids gravitate toward video games and smartphones, with screen time rising to 50% in recent years. But not every virtual experience is detrimental. Options for enriching online experiences are available for children to redefine their connection to digital spaces. All you need for this summer camp substitute is a quiet environment and a good internet connection.

#4 Online Classes and Workshops

Online classes and workshops satiate a child’s natural curiosity and offer self-directed choices for continued learning. Here are some of our favorite activities: 

  • Creative writing workshops
  • Drawing and painting workshops
  • Zoology classes
  • Space education classes

#5 Interactive Virtual Tours

Interactive virtual tours offer attainable ways to bring the world’s beauty right to your child’s bedroom. Most museums provide digital tours, and a quick search of almost any national park and “virtual tours” will quickly offer remote options for your child to sit back, relax, and explore. 

Here are a few refreshing options to transport your child during slow summer days:

  • National monuments
  • National parks
  • Local and global museums 
  • Zoos 

#6 Virtual Camp Games and Challenges

To harness the essence of summer day camp, take a look at these additional summer camp pastimes without the bumps and bruises from dodgeball or tag:

  • Campfire sing-along on Zoom
  • Virtual treasure hunts
  • Virtual outdoor education and survival training

Community-Based Activities

Summer isn’t only about keeping your kids entertained. With nearly three months ahead of them before school starts again, it’s a ripe time to encourage your child to build community and form lasting bonds in their neighborhoods.

Options to explore new experiences and foster connection allow your child to connect with their community and peers even when school is out of session.

#7 Local Camps and Classes

A quick Google search will reveal an almost endless number of day camps and classes that cater to your child’s curiosities. These daytime getaways vary in length and theme to keep the long summer season feeling fresh. 

Popular options include:

  • Art classes
  • Robotics camps
  • Dance classes
  • Sports camps

#8 Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer work can boost empathy in children and offer additional purpose throughout the summer months. You can tailor your child’s community service work to their interests so you know they’ll have fun. 

Take a look at these kid-friendly places to volunteer: 

  • Nearby stables, farms, or nature centers
  • Flower shops and community gardens
  • Your local Library 

#9 Group Outings and Events

Check your local newspaper and social media platforms for group outings and events. Whip up a pre-approved list of occasions and gatherings to instantly reach for ready-made recreational options. 

A few that we love are: 

  • Local sports events 
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Crafts fairs
  • Community-wide water balloon fights

From immersive backyard experiences to virtual classes and community camps and events, there are endless options to keep you and your child entertained and engaged. Whether your kids are looking for fun games to play with siblings at home or exploring new hiking trails, picking any one option (or all of them) will surely deliver a summer they’ll never forget.

Choosing the Right Summer Camp Alternative for Kids

With its long days, abundance of sunshine, and endless opportunities for learning through play, summer is the season that many kids look forward to. Curating unique and alternative options to traditional day camps lets your child experience the best of the season from the comfort of home while learning and growing along the way. 

Deepen your child’s connection to nature, community, and self this summer with Slumberkin’s social and emotional resources for children. With insights into core skills like confidence and resilience, we support you in developing your children’s inner and outer worlds so they can take on all summer adventures with self-assurance and adaptability. 


Child Mind Institute. Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature.

JAMA Pediatrics. Assessment of Changes in Child and Adolescent Screen Time During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Parents. 7 Reasons Volunteering Is Good for Children.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published