Summer on the Cheap: Great Camp Activities to Do at Home (page 2)

Summer on the Cheap: Great Camp Activities to Do at Home

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Updated on Jul 8, 2010

Backyard Space Camp

Parents can create a backyard space camp by reading books about astronauts and watching age-appropriate movies to build background knowledge, and then providing kids with materials to make their own astronaut costumes and build their own space shuttles. Appliances can be recycled, taken apart, and knobs and buttons can be used to build control pads, or paper-mache can be used to build the rockets. This is an opportunity for children to divide responsibility and work together to complete a massive, perhaps summer-long, project. Field trips to nearby science museums or planetariums can supplement the camp experience, and online field trips to museums such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (which has a selection of online activities) can be both exciting and informative for children.

Neighborhood Nature Camp

Outdoor nature camps often offer such exciting adventures as whitewater rafting or hiking up mountains. Though these activities may be difficult to recreate at home, depending on location, parents can help children experience the outdoors by involving them in learning adventures such as bird watching, gardening, camping, and hiking. Children can sketch birds and plants, build large or small-scale dioramas of animals in their natural habitats, ride bikes through state parks, plants flower beds in the yard, or join a neighborhood improvement project to paint public benches, clean up trash, and plant shrubs. Community service projects are a great way to get children involved in the local community, build friendships with children and adults of all ages, and explore the natural environment of the local area. If nothing like this exists, consider creating your own community service project with neighbors and friends!

Weekend Camp Exchange

A weekend camp exchange with a few close friends of the family is another good way to let your kids foster relationships outside of the family and also learn about another adult’s expertise. Parents of children’s friends might be master gardeners or scientists or actors or professional basketball players. These parents might be delighted by the thought of creating a weekend overnight camp experience built around their area of interest, particularly when it means that their children will be able to experience a few weekends of camp at the homes of other local families.

Want a few more ideas for bringing camp activities home? Browse some of the renowned camp Web sites and see what they offer kids who attend the programs. Be sure to check out Invent Now Kids, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Space Camp (at the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama), and Colorado Discovery Camp for more activity ideas.

And don’t forget about the oldy but goody—backyard campfires. There’s a lot to be said for family bonding over s’mores, counting the stars, and sharing campfire stories.

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