Summer Camp Ideas

Summer is a time for fun and adventure, but it can be hard to come up with ideas that will keep your kids engaged. Our list of summer camp ideas are sure to grab their attention. From outdoor play, to messy art, and wow-worthy science experiments, these 30 summer camp activities will make any backyard or day camp the most memorable one yet. 

Summer camp ideas


This list is full of fun summer camp activity ideas that won't break the bank or take too much time to set up so you can spend more quality time with your kids this summer!

Check out our list of summer camp crafts too! 

Summer camp activities

Summer Camp Ideas

First up here are a few of our favorite summer camp activities from the Messy Little Monster website. 

Color Mixing Water Play

This summer camp activity is great for fine motor development for toddlers. All you need for color mixing water play is plastic bins and containers, food coloring, water, and pipettes to set up this activity. It's super simple and fun.

Color mixing water play - summer camp ideas


Paint Rolling Art

Grab a few bouncy balls, paints in different colors, and a long sheet of kraft paper to put on a slide and you have a cool messy paint rolling art activity for the kids. Provide balls of different sizes and paint colors that coordinate to see what fun and colorful art they can create.

Paint rolling art activity - summer camp ideas

Water Pistol Painting

Kids of all ages will love this messy summer camp activity. Just add a mixture of paint and water to some water pistols to fire away at paper or canvas. Water pistol painting is great for helping kids learn about mixing colors, and it can be pretty funny too! Plus, the kids will have an artsy summer keepsake to keep for years.

water pistol painting - summer camp ideas


Paint Sidewalks with Outdoor Puffy Paint

This is a great way to get messy with kids, and the materials needed are so easy. First, you'll need some outdoor puffy paint, which we have a handy recipe for. You'll also need some squeeze bottles (or condiment bottles) with small tips that offer good control of the paint. The best part is that you can let them go wild creating whatever designs they want. Flowers, trees, bugs, tents, etc. are all good ideas if they need a little inspiration.

Outdoor puffy paint - summer camp ideas

Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

Help children learn about nature while keeping them on their toes. First, pick a route along a hiking trail or other outdoor area. Collect some objects as you walk and make sure to include things like leaves, flowers, and rocks, and keep an eye out for the critters you see on your walk. Use our nature walk scavenger hunt printable to check off things as you find them.

Nature walk scavenger hunt - summer camp ideas


Fizzy Sidewalk Chalk Paint

This fizzy sidewalk chalk paint activity is part science experiment, part art. Have the kids paint their designs using the baking-soda based paint, and then watch as they fizz and bubble with the vinegar reacts with the paint.

fizzy sidewalk chalk paint - summer camp ideas


Bug Scavenger Hunt

If you've ever been to summer camp, you know that one thing you'll always find is lots of BUGS! Make the most of the situation using our bug scavenger hunt printable to tick off as many different types of bugs as you can find.

bug scavenger hunt - summer camp ideas


Sponge Water Bombs

You may have had water balloon fights, but the fun's over once the balloons are popped. Making your own sponge water bombs means the fun can go on for hours, and you can reuse them again and again. Have the kids help make some sponge bombs, and then get to work soaking and throwing them.

sponge water bombs - summer camp ideas


Mud Kitchen

Every kid should have the opportunity to play in a diy mud kitchen. Mud pies, mud cakes, and flower soups are all part of the fun. It's important that kids get messy and explore nature with all their senses.

diy mud kitchen - summer camp ideas


Lava Lamp Science Experiment

What happens when oil, food coloring, and water are poured into one container? Kids will be delighted with the beaded effect in this lava lamp science experiment that shows that oil and water don't mix. The Alka-Seltzer really gets those colorful oil droplets moving around.

lava lamp science experiment - summer camp ideas


Rainbow Baking Soda Science Experiment

Baking soda and vinegar experiments are always a hit with kids, and this rainbow baking soda experiment has the added element of lots of fun, bright colors. Place the cups close to each other so kids can watch color mixing as the eruption begins to overflow.

Rainbow baking soda science experiment - summer camp ideas


Magic Milk Fireworks

Here's a fun idea for the 4th of July. Make magic milk fireworks using one simple secret ingredient that makes the color scatter. It's mesmerizing!

magic milk fireworks - summer camp ideas


Fun Summer Camp Activities

As if that wasn't enough ideas, here are even more summer camp activities for you to try that we have found from other websites we love. 

Summer camp activity ideas

Fireworks in a Glass

Explore density in a colorful way with this fireworks in a glass activity by Finding Myself Young. All you need is a few items from your pantry to let the "fireworks" begin.

fireworks in a glass - summer camp ideas


Ketchup Volcano Experiment

You may have made a baking soda volcano before, but this ketchup volcano by Kindergarten Worksheets and Games is next level. The vinegar in the ketchup reacts with the baking soda for the classic acid-base reaction. And since the ketchup is red, it really looks like lava erupting from the volcano. 


Solar Oven S'mores

Turn a pizza box, foil, and plastic wrap into a solar oven to make s'mores. Who needs a campfire, anyway? This is a great activity for teaching kids about heat retention while providing them with a yummy snack that they're sure to be excited about.

solar oven smores - summer camp ideas


Shaving Cream Rainbow Sensory Play

Little ones will love getting messy in this Shaving Cream Rainbow by And Next Comes L. It's colorful, squishy, and artsy all in one. Make sure the kids wear old clothes because they'll definitely get the fluffy shaving cream all over. 

shaving cream rainbow - summer camp ideas


Ice Cream Volcano

What could be more "summer" than making an ice cream volcano? This experiment from Kindergarten Worksheets and Games is made possible by sticking an ice cream cone over a bottle where a peroxide and yeast reaction occur. By adding food coloring, you can make the "ice cream" look like any flavor you want. The eruption happens FAST, but the kids will want to try it again and again, so make sure you have plenty of ingredients on hand.

Ice cream volcano - summer camp ideas



Geocaching at summer camp could make for some interesting adventures in unexpected places! Explore More Clean Less offers tips for geocaching with kids that'll be super helpful for kids at summer camp. Geocaching is a fun activity for all ages. It's like a scavenger hunt with GPS coordinates. The more difficult caches will require some searching skills, but there are also easy ones for kids or beginners! 

Geocaching with kids - summer camp ideas


Sunscreen Experiment

Teach kids about the importance of sun protection with this creative sunscreen experiment from 123 Homeschool 4 Me. The experiment takes place over several days using paper figures with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. The control has nothing. Make predictions about what will happen to each figure.

sunscreen experiment - summer camp ideas


Water Shooter Tie Dye

The kids can make some awesome sheets or blankets using this water shooter tie dye technique from Fantastic Fun & Learning. Then kids can use their colorful blankets to lay on to read books, sit on for picnics, and so on. If you don't want a large project like sheets, try this with t-shirts instead.

water shooter tie dye


Vinegar and Baking Soda Rocket

There's no way you could ever get bored with vinegar and baking soda reactions when they're this fun. This vinegar and baking soda rocket by 123 Homeschool 4 Me is a great way to blast off at summer camp. Kids can work together to build launch pads out of legos, set up their rockets, and see which ones blast the highest.

vinegar and baking soda rocket - summer camp ideas


Bleach Dye

Speaking of dying t-shirts, this bleach dye shirt from Baby Savers is lots of fun, too. Make sure the kids have safety glasses and gloves to protect their eyes and skin.

bleach dye t shirt - summer camp activities


Stomping Bubble Wrap Painting

This stomping bubble wrap painting by The Soccer Mom Blog is an activity that will be loved by kids and parents alike. It's a creative way to help the little ones let out some energy while creating something beautiful at the same time! The bubbles wrap can pop as they stomp on it, giving them extra sensory input as well.

stomping bubble wrap painting - summer camp activities


Sand Foam Sensory Play

Get ready to get messy! This sand foam sensory play activity by Simple Fun for Kids is a hoot! The fluffy, soft texture of the shaving cream meets the gritty texture of the sand in this activity for toddlers and preschoolers.

sand foam sensory play - summer camp activities


Outdoor Ball Run

Use loose parts like wood scraps and pavers to build an outdoor ball run like this one from And Next Comes L. This STEM activity gets kids thinking creatively, working together, and problem solving to come up with ways to keep the balls rolling.

Outdoor ball run - summer camp activities


Summer Escape Room for Kids

Escape rooms are great activities for kids that encourage team work and problem solving. Print this summer escape room for kids from Teaching Ideas to make planning one easy peasy. The kids have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles within a certain time frame (usually an hour) in order to "escape."

summer escape room for kids - summer camp activities


Balloon Splatter Painting

Grab some washable paint and balloons for this cool balloon splatter painting activity from Hello Wonderful. Use tools to make the balloons pop, scattering their paint across the paper or canvas. A screwdriver works well! You could also try skewers or toothpicks (with plenty of supervision, of course).

balloon splatter painting - summer camp activities


Dry Ice Experiments

Dry ice always gets a big reaction from kids. Mama Smiles has five easy dry ice experiments to try, and our favorite is the one with the toy tea kettle! As the dry ice sublimates into gas, it comes out of the spout looking like steam.

dry ice experiments - summer camp activities


Magnifying Glass Fire

Any kid who's seen the movie Ants has probably wondered, "Is it really possible to build a fire using a magnifying glass?" Well, it is! This magnifying glass fire experiment from Go Science Kids offers tips to responsibly demonstrate this to kids so they're aware that they need to be careful when working and playing with a magnifying glass. 

magnifying glass fire - summer camp ideas

Very Sandy Slime

If you're near a beachy area, make some very sandy slime from Simple Fun for Kids. Slime making is a popular summer camp activity, but sand slime is likely one recipe that the kids haven't tried before.  Summer camp can be a great time for kids to explore nature, create art and have fun. 

sand slime - summer camp activities

The activities we’ve provided are easy enough for a wide range of ages. All of these summer camp ideas will keep kids busy and engaged as they learn about the world around them. Don't forget to pin this list of 30 summer camp activities! What do you want to try first?

Summer camp ideas - summer camp activities

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