Summer vacation is coming! Whether you are organizing activities for the neighborhood kids, or you are working as camp counselors running summer camps, coming up with the best ideas for a memorable summer of fun is so important. Let us take a bit of the pressure off with our list of the best Science, STEM and, just plain old fun, Summer Camp Activities for Kids.
The Best Summer Camp Ideas For Kids
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When it comes to summer time we want fun activities for the kids that will create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether they are STEM and science camp activities, outdoor activities and games, crafts, or indoor/rainy day activities, the main goal needs to be FUN!
We all have those summer memories from our childhood. The ones that have stuck with us over the years. As you think back on those memories, what is it that stands out? How can we replicate those cherished memories for our kids?
If you ask me, the big thing I remember is having fun with friends, going on adventures, and doing amazing new things.
So that was the guiding force as I developed this list of ideas for kids of all ages. Friends, adventures and fun, new experiences. I hope it helps you create a summer of amazing memories for your kids.
Our List of Summer Camp Activities
The summer camp experience is something that can vary so much. It might include campfires, exploring a hiking trail with new friends, sleeping in log cabins, or sports like kayaking or horseback riding. Whether you are organizing a summer camp or just trying to replicate those memories your own backyard, we have lots of incredible ideas for you!
Blast off a summer of incredible memories with this STEM Bottle Rocket challenge. Campers can be challenged to build a launch pad. This could be out of whatever you have available: LEGO, craft sticks, blocks or even forged items from the forest. Then, with a couple of simple ingredients (baking soda and vinegar), you can cause a chemical reaction that will WOW everyone!
Build a Rain Gauge
When you are finished blasting off those bottle rockets, take that bottle and turn it into a simple Rain Gauge that will have your kids hoping for a rainy day!
This is such a great backyard or camp activity idea. Make simple seed bombs using native wildflowers, then build special seed bomb launchers to fire those seed bombs and build some habitats for our pollinators.
We don’t want our bird friends to feel left out, and this next project is so quick and easy. Make these bird feeders and hang them around your yard or camp site to invite in local birds for a snack.
Flower Bouquet Nature Craft
This simple crafting idea is brilliant for young summer campers. Using our printable templates, have kids colour, then fill their art with wildflowers growing around the camp.
This simple project can provide so many hours of memories and fun for campers. Whether you make small batches of Oobleck for messy sensory play, or go big and make a pool sized batch for kids to really go crazy with, Oobleck is the non-Newtonian Fluid that every camper needs to explore. Best of all it only needs one ingredient plus some water. So simple!
Build a Handheld Cannon
Looking for the perfect summer camp activity for teens and older kids? This is it! Have them build their very own handheld cannon, then head out for games and challenges that will have memories created that will last a lifetime. Plus they can keep their cannon as a special keepsake of their special summer.
Camp Pro Tip! Supply a wide variety of markers, stickers, tapes and paints so the kids can customize their cannon.
Craft Stick Launchers
Love the cannon idea but need something a little smaller? Try making these Craft Stick Launchers that are inspired by crossbows. These mini-crossbows are a fantastic STEM build that also challenges kids to consider the physics of how to launch their cotton swab!
How to Make a Compass
It only makes sense that the first thing campers should do as part of a science camp, or really any camp, is to make a homemade compass! This activity is great fun and a wonderful hands on summer camp activity to go with orienteering lessons or as part of an Einstein inspired day.
Jitter Bugs Magnet Science
Playing with magnetism doesn’t need to end with making a compass! In this bug themed magnet science and STEM activity that is perfect for summer camp, kids play with magnetic forces to make a Jitter Bug.
Build a Solar Oven
On a hot sunny day there is nothing better than building a solar oven to cook up some snacks! This simple project is always a huge hit with kids, especially because they get to eat what they cook using the power of the sun. From the always popular summer s’mores to pizzas every summer camp needs a solar oven project! Don’t forget to encourage your kids to come up with their own summer recipe for the pizza box oven!
Sun Melted Crayon Art
Harness the power of the sun and beautify your camp with this gorgeous Sun Melted Crayon Art Project. Campers will love this creative project.
Part of summer camp is being out in nature, but over the last few years the impact of climate change has become immense. It is impossible to ignore anymore. As part of your summer camp, this Greenhouse Effect experiment will help demonstrate how greenhouse gases are causing warming and melting of ice caps.
Sun Art Cyanotype Printing
This is such a simple and fun chemistry art project for the summer. Learn how you can capture the energy of the sun to create gorgeous Chemistry Sun Art with this oh so easy Cyanotype STEAM Project. Perfect for summer camp!
Water safety is a big issue. Especially if you are running a summer camp with everyone living in nature. Understanding water safety, and what water is safe to drink is important. Dive in and explore water in your area with this water lab.
Recycled Seed Paper
As part of our goal to teach children about the environment, we love coming up with activities that recycle materials and reduce waste. Near the end of your camp or summer, this is one of the best final summer camp activities. Gather up all the scraps of paper from your summer of fun, and use it to make special seed paper. Campers can use it to write special notes to their friends and bring it home to plant as a special memory of their summer.
Tie Dye Projects
Nothing says summer like some special summer t-shirts, shoes and bandanas! This summer have your campers create their own pieces with this fun, easy and affordable Tie Dye technique using sharpies.
This is a really cool and different take on the traditional friendship bracelets. Teach your summer camp students some simple metal stamping techniques and create a special keepsake from their summer of fun with friends.
DIY Bioplastic Suncatchers
Explore the incredible process of making bioplastics with simple kitchen ingredients. In this summer STEM project kids learn about polymers and create the most beautiful suncatchers that will bring a gorgeous colourful touch to your windows. Fantastic project for summer camp!
Does it Float?
There are two different versions you can do with this project idea. First, if you have cans of soda pop in a variety of types including diet and regular, you can do this experiment with the cans. You can also do this experiment with water balloons, which is a really, really fun alternative on those hot summer days.
Summer camp is the perfect time to build an epic obstacle course and Nerf War Battlefield. What kid doesn’t love a fun Nerf War? You can also use this idea to build a memorable Water Gun battlefield in the backyard for even more fun outdoor games. Turning this into a water gun zone is a fun way to bring in some water play to beat the summer heat. So many camp games to be played and memories just waiting to be made!
Ninja Tire Course
A wonderful way to get outside and get moving is to build a simple ninja inspired tire obstacle course. All you need is a few old tires and you can have days of physical activity and fun for your campers. When it comes to summer camp activities, this one has been popular for generations.
This simple project is a really fun way for kids to learn a little history about clocks, while building their very own water clock. You can have kids build it at the beginning of camp, then use it as their own special timer during the week.
Ever since we first created Circuit Bugs back in 2015 it has become popular all over the world, especially as one of the best Science Summer Camp Activities. This one is great for older kids and teens.
Following the popularity of Circuit Bugs, we went back and created Circuit Flowers. Another fantastic summer STEM circuit building project for older kids and teens that brings a rainbow of colours to life.
There is something about lemons that always makes me think of summer. In this activity we make a simple volcano using lemons and a bit of food coloring to make it a beautiful eruption.
Ready to send your summer camp off to the races? Have your campers build Balloon Cars. In our design, it is built from recycled materials. Once built, have races to see whose is the fastest!
Want a summer camp activity that will appeal to all ages and can be done indoors or outdoors? Check out Balloon Races? This project is so much fun and will have kids laughing and learning all summer long. This idea is fantastic for a science or Newton inspired camp.
Water Activities and Experiments
One thing that is often readily available during summer camps is water. We have lots of different experiments you can do with the kids using Water. Find the one that is perfect for your summer camp activities including lots of ideas for rainy days.
Butterfly Life Cycle
Learn all about the beautiful Butterfly Life Cycle by building a cool model that spins. This is a great summer camp project as part of nature studies. Students can go out and find butterflies in nature, then come back and build a model either individually or as a group.
Or explore the wonderful Ladybug Lifecycle!
Sometimes we need some quiet time and mindfulness during our summer camps. Crystal or Rock Gridding is a wonderful way to bring in some quiet, meditative time with your kids. Send the kids on a scavenger hunt. Have them explore nature to find rocks and other special natural finds, then build a beautiful grid or design with the pieces.
Magical Wizard Themed Camp
If you have a Harry Potter inspired camp that is all about wizarding, we have plenty of magical ideas for your summer camp. I highly recommend Troll Bogey Magnetic Slime, Lumos Circuit Wand Building, and some charms practice with Wingardium Leviosar (a special science experiment). You can find these and all of our magical activity ideas in our Harry Potter resource.
Magical Optical Illusion Projects
Speaking of magical activities, if you need some indoor crafting STEM projects, why not do some really cool optical illusion projects with your campers this summer? We have lots of amazing variations you can try.
Paper Airplane Challenge
Challenge your campers or kids this summer to make paper airplanes and see who can come up with the best design. Start with some simple folding instructions, then let your campers get creative! Power up those designs with Paper Airplane Launchers and watch those imaginations really fly!
This is a summer camp classic: creating GIANT bubbles. Everyone loves bubbles and at the end of a wonderful week of making memories, these giant bubbles are a fantastic way to celebrate and have some fun!
Egg Drop Challenge
This is a classic STEM challenge for summer, and beloved by campers everywhere! In this project, kids are challenged to build a device that will allow a raw egg to be dropped without it breaking. This is such an exciting project that is packed full of learning and fun moments. Try the traditional Egg Drop Project or our special Oobleck inspired Egg Drop.
Build a Boat STEM Challenge
If your summer camp is near a lake this is a genius idea using recycled materials that will foster creativity, STEM skill development, and fun! Build a Boat STEM Challenge is perfect for kids at camp of all ages.
This list of ideas will continue to grow! We have plenty of activity ideas that we are still creating and will be sharing with you and adding to this list.
Join our Newsletter to ensure you get the latest activity ideas sent right to your inbox. Sign up here and get a free sample of our Lifecycle Code Breakers printable activity. Another fun project for summer learning about the natural lifecycles of plants, insects and animals around us.
Also available, this Summer Beach themed Code Breakers activity. Perfect for a rainy day of code breaking fun.
Have an incredible summer of fun and the best summer camp activities!