Camp LHS: Getting the Summer Camp Experience at Home

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Kids are out of school for the summer and we’ve already seen numerous summer programs and camps announce cancellations due to COVID-19. That means kids will spending more time at home than usual.

We know your kids still need some summer fun and education, and that COVID-19 hasn’t stopped their energy and imaginations. So - we’ve compiled a list of some fun Camp LHS activities that y'all can try at home. Check out the fun, interactive activities below!

1. Make your own field day

This one takes some planning, but is a great way to get outside and active!

Field days can happen in your own backyard or a little section of the park on your next visit. Try setting up stations in your backyard or park, or use your walk to the park as the activity.

Activities could include a three-legged race, water balloon hot potato, relay race with eggs on spoons, potato sack race, beanbag toss, sprinkler limbo, super soaker tag, etc.

When you need a change in “venue”, head to your neighborhood park and use some of our clean-up games to clean your neighborhood up a bit! Just get the kids outside, make anything a race - and you’ve got yourself a field day!

2. Junkyard Wars

Much like the 2000s hit show, Junkyard Wars!

Give your kids the task of building a machine, an animal, or a cityscape  using only the items you give them. Kids especially love making simple machines (and you get to learn a bit about math and science!)

Make a catapult with scrap lumber, ropes, cloth, etc. to launch water balloons at each other. Give them a couple of hours to build their catapult and  create a head-to-head showdown with a water balloon war.

This one is perfect for this summer heat! Once they’ve catapulted all the water balloons, switch to horticulture when you follow our guide to making easy seed bombs! They’re a convenient way for kids, guerrilla gardeners and people with achy backs to bring life to open green spaces like your backyard.

3. Cardboard Challenge

Have your kids build their own arcade.

The Cardboard Challenge, inspired by a young boy in California, encourages children of all ages to become inventors, engineers, and builders! This activity let’s you do something with all those cardboard boxes from all the online ordering you’ve been doing lately.

Have your kids watch this video of “Caine’s Arcade” to see how a boy in LA engineered an entire arcade out of cardboard. Have them gather boxes and household items to begin creating their own inventions. Cereal boxes and shipping boxes are especially good materials. Once their creations are complete, have them hold a grand opening where the whole family can enjoy the arcade, restaurant, or camp they’ve created!

4. Make a Diorama

This activity will really spur your kid’s imagination.

First, decide what you’ll be building, and gather the necessary materials from around the house, outside or on your next walk around the park. We have a handy guide on how to build your very own fairy park, but kids can use any theme they’d like -- dinosaurs, the bottom of the sea, space, far away planets, the perfect summer camp -- just about anything they can imagine!

A great inspiration for being creative with materials for different “uses” is The Tiny Chef Show on Instagram. He uses buttons for his stove, a tomato soup can as his oven, and more. Imaginary play helps kiddos develop planning and problem-solving skills as they figure out how to use the materials they have to get the scene they want.

5. Build a bird feeder

Make bird watching a breeze by building a bird feeder.

When we design new playscapes or playgrounds when investing in parks, one of the factors we take very seriously is Nature Play. Numerous studies have found cognitive benefits to Nature Play. Another wonderful characteristic to instill in kiddos, is observation! What more fun way to observe the things around us during this time at home, than observing the birds that visit your home?

Creating bird feeders can be as easy or as intricate as you’d like. But an easy way to make bird feeders is to cover an empty toilet paper roll with peanut butter, roll it in birdseed and run a string through the middle for hanging. There you have it, your very own bird feeders.

You can have kids track the different kinds of birds that show up over the summer at their feeders (check out the nature bingo in our Summer 2020 activity kit for ideas), and have the kids check them off a list as they see them. Make sure they have plenty of supplies to keep their feeders full!

6. Make a volcano

We think your kids will lava this Nature Play activity.

Another great way to incorporate some Nature Play and science is to create some erupting volcanoes in the backyard! This classic science-fair project is a fun way to learn a little and get muddy at the same time.

Here is an easy outdoor volcano project, all you’ll need is a water bottle, baking soda, vinegar, and dirt. To get the full effect of real lava spewing from the volcano, add a little red food coloring! Looking for even more nature play? You can check out this list from our very own Barry Rivera on how to incorporate more Nature Play every day!

7. Alka-seltzer rockets

If your child likes the volcano, they'll like this explosion activity!

There are few things more inspiring than watching a rocket launch. So what could be better than an alkaline-seltzer powered rocket that uses simple parts and teaches a bit of science? Here is a link to simple instructions to create your own rockets.

Take your rocket to your nearest green space to share it with your neighbors, or create your launch pad in the backyard. Make a day of it and have your kids watch the video of the most recent Sapce-X launch here, and check out the NASA Kids’ Club for more on how important and interesting space exploration is!

8. Nature scavenger hunt

This one is just as simple as it sounds.

Making a list of items they can find out in nature keeps the kids entertained for a while, but you could have some more fun with it by planning some specifics beforehand. For example, say you’ve noticed that your kid likes cooking in the kitchen with you, make a “recipe” list for them to create a special soup in the backyard.

Your list can consist of all the things you’d find at the park, pinecones, flowers, rocks, dried leaves, etc. Have your kids bring a bucket with them on the next family walk or visit the park and when they get back home, they can start cooking up their special soup in the backyard! Whatever the scenario you give them, they’re sure to have a blast scavenging for their “supplies”!

9. Build a Ninja Warrior course

Who will be the ultimate ninja warrior (of your house)?

Been doing some clearing out? Use items from your house, garage or the backyard to let the kids create an obstacle course!

Boxes, tree stumps, chairs, and more can be incorporated into a challenging obstacle course. Time each child to see who can finish the course the fastest. You could even film each run to share with friends and family to let them award points for style and creativity.

10. Host a talent show

Let your kids shine in the way they know best!

Everyone loves showing off their incredible talents. Organize a little family talent show or go the whole nine yards!

Have each person in your family sign up, set up a stage outside, and make sure you’ve got good lighting to shine on your little stars. Grab a microphone (real or fake) and set up chairs for the audience. Give the kids free time in the morning to plan their acts and rehearse, then hold your talent show in the evening.

Make it even more fun for the kids by supplying an assortment of props they can use in their act. You can even enlist friends and far away family by creating a video call for everyone to watch and share their talents too!