Creating A DIY, At-Home Summer Camp (+ Free Printables)

Summer camps are a great way to get kids interested in the outdoors in a fun setting that emphasizes togetherness, survival and socialization. Plus, children learn the importance of play, communication and survival while strengthening their independence and confidence. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder summer camps are a wildly popular activity! 

Sometimes, though, these camps simply aren’t a realistic idea. Whether it’s because of their high price tag or intense time commitment, some families can’t make camp work. And this year, many summer camps are being postponed or canceled because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. 

Luckily, however, families can create a DIY summer camp in their home and yard to bring the fun and educational benefits of camp home. 

Read on for tips about how to create your own DIY summer camp, including themes, games and printables to get started. 

Step 1: Pick Your Theme

Summer camps can be tailored to your child’s interests by picking a theme that they will enjoy. Choose to go traditional or branch out into something your child will like, such as pirates, princesses, robots or animals. 


For most, summer camp means log cabins and campfires. The traditional theme is all about recreating a classic American summer camp in your backyard. 

Activities for this theme include: tag, tug-of-war, swimming, building a campfire, climbing trees and birdwatching. 

You can also download this welcome sign and colouring page activity to help create the ambiance of the outdoors in your very own home. 


Kids can dream of life on the Seven Seas with a pirate-themed summer camp experience. Consider making eyepatches and tying on bandanas to make it more authentic. 

Activities for this theme include: crab walk races, foam sword fights, water balloon fights and a hunt for hidden treasure. 

You can also download this welcome sign and maze activity to help get the ideas flowing. 


Bring a Disney movie to life with this magical summer camp theme that retells the classic story of a fair maiden and brave knight. 

Activities for this theme include: dress up, a royal relay race, a dragon’s egg scavenger hunt and face painting. 

You can also download this welcome sign and fill-in-the-blank word game to give your house and DIY camp the royal treatment.


For kids who love the outdoors and animals,a jungle-themed camp is the way to go. Create the feeling of a fun safari with animal-themed decor and games. 

Activities for this theme include: pin the tail on the donkey, animal walk races, tag and scavenger hunts. 

You can also download this welcome sign and scavenger hunt activity to get yourself in the wild mindset.

Step 2: Create a Schedule 

Once you have the theme and decorations decided, it’s time to come up with some fun activities. Draw your own or download a printable itinerary so you can schedule your activities, then come up with a loose plan for your camp.  

Some other activity ideas are:

  • Read books aloud to each other
  • Play hide-and-seek
  • Collect and paint rocks
  • Build a fort
  • Decorate jars and plant a seedling inside

Step 3: Have Fun

The most important thing to remember during your DIY summer camp is to have fun. After all, summer camps are all about fun and togetherness. 

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Editorial Team
Editorial Team
We take our responsibilities seriously as a provider of free parenting resources. Our published articles are therefore written based on evidence-based information parents can rely on. Parenthood is hard. But it’s also the most rewarding. Our first goal is thus to make sure our content is concise, accurate and accessible.