Plan your own summer camp this year in the backyard with these cool outdoor projects! Also — be sure to join us at Camp KiwiCo for more options for a seriously fun, hands-on, creative summer!
For many kids, summer camp is a ritual to look forward to all year long —a time to play outdoor games, craft cool stuff, meet new friends, and maybe even sleep under the stars. For parents, too, sending kids to summer camp (sleepaway or not) offers the promise that kids will learn new skills and enjoy their independence. While going to summer camp may not be in the cards for all of us this year, you can re-create some camp fun in your own backyard. With just a few materials found around the house, you can transform a summer day into a creative adventure. From building a water wall and crafting sun-print shirts, to making s’mores in a solar oven, here are some DIY summer camp activities to do at home.
Create your own camp T-shirts using solar power! Brush a white shirt with acrylic paint, place objects on it (while it is still wet!) and set out in the sun! Eventually, all the paint gets drawn out from under the blocks, leaving you with unpainted shapes on a painted background. Play with plastic letters, leaves, and other materials to make your own camp designs.
Learn more: Sun-Print T-Shirts
Create a fun DIY camp banner using leaves from the garden. It’s the perfect combination of outdoor activity and crafting project that will transform your camp venue into a creative space that is uniquely your own!
Learn more: Camp Banner
Make granola bars to take on the trail (or eat anytime.) This super-easy recipe from Smitten Kitchen is seriously fun for kids to make!
Learn more: Granola Bars
Be the coolest house on the block with this DIY water wall. Just rummage through the recycling, find some outdoor wall space, and create this upcycled water wonderland for your wee ones. They’ll thank you for it with hours of play!
Learn more: Water Wall
In addition to being a fun way to stay cool on a summer day, a squirt gun is also a great example of what happens when you apply pressure to a liquid. In this quick, fun experiment, learn how to make your own miniature water squirter using just two cups, a straw, and some clay!
Learn more: Water Squirter
Create a DIY solar oven and create classic s’mores using the power of the sun!
Learn more: Solar Oven
A walking stick is useful on a nature walk. Wrap your sticks with colorful yarn to make it sticks extra special.
Learn more: Nature Trail Walking Stick
Mix up old scrap paper and with flower seeds to make plantable paper. Just plant the paper in a pot or in your garden, water daily, and watch it grow!
Learn more: Plantable Paper
Illuminate your backyard with this simple lantern made from a water bottle! This project uses refraction to disperse the light in all directions. This spreads the light out around your space, making it easier to see all around you.
Learn more: Water Bottle Lantern
Did you know that fire doesn’t always burn orange? In fact, there are a wide range of colors that fire can be. In this chemistry experiment, we’ll show you how to make a pinecone that creates green fire when tossed in your campfire (or fireplace)!
Watch a marshmallow grow to three times its original size with a quick and easy experiment using everyone’s favorite summer treat!
Learn more: Campfire Chemistry
For more ideas for a super creative summer, check out Camp KiwiCo! We’re creating four different sessions of hands-on activities, videos and content, each geared for different age groups. Each session is meant to cover five days, with a few hours of activities and content each day — but kids can mix and match days and go at their own pace.