How can you create a camp experience that is sure to create lasting memories for your campers? Summer camps are generally known for being some of the most fun times during one’s childhood. Children and teenagers meet new friends, try new things, and experience fun like no other when away at summer camp. It can easily sound like a lot of pressure to create the perfect summer camp experience for your campers. But – It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Summer camp is the time of fun and the experience of creating summer camp activities should be fun and exciting for you too.
We have created this guide with 30 different summer camp activities to help you have the best summer camp ever and give you campers the experience of a lifetime. With varying price ranges and levels of effort required, you’re sure to find new ideas to implement in your camp this summer. Let’s dive in!
1. Gaga Ball
About 10-15 campers stand in a gaga ball pit with a kickball, volleyball, or another ball in similar size. One person in the pit will hold the ball above their head and drop it to begin the game. The ball will bounce 3 times as players chant “ga…ga…ball” (one word for each bounce). After the 3rd bounce, the game officially begins. Players will hit the ball on the ground with their hands or fist. The goal is to hit other players with the ball below the knee. If they’re hit below the knee, they must exit the gaga ball pit. Whoever is the last person standing is the winner! Gaga ball pits can easily be expensive, but you could build your own for a more affordable alternative.
2. Campfire and S’mores
Having a campfire and s’mores is a summer camp classic. If your camp doesn’t already do this, they totally should. Gather your campers around the campfire (or multiple campfires) for s’mores, spooky storytelling, and singing.
3. Themed Nights
After the camp festivities of the day, have your campers participate in themed dress up for the night time activities. The camper groups could compete against each other for best dressed.
Some ideas for themes include:
- Hawaiian Night
- Pajama Night
- Twin Night (campers pick a partner and they dress the same)
- Superhero Night
Don’t forget to give your camp families a heads up for any themed nights that may require an extra set of packed closes. Or make a whole day out of it with DIY costume creation crafts during the day.
4. Paint Twister
Gather several standard size Twister mats and put washable paint on the corresponding color circle. Then play Twister as normal. Just beware, this game is guaranteed to make a mess and is recommended you play somewhere that’ll make clean up easy.
It’s a fun twist to a simple game that’s fun for all. (Ha, get it? We’ll see ourselves out.)
5. Kickball Tournament
Similar to the rules of baseball, but with a kickball! If you want to spice up the game and make it messy, use kiddie pools instead of traditional bases and add fun things inside. You could put mustard, soap and bubbles, gatorade, or soggy beans in each kiddie pool for the bases. This adds some mess and fun to the traditional game of kickball.
6. Lifesized Checkers
All the fun of traditional checkers, but lifesized. Here is a massive checkers set if you’re interested.
7. Traditional Tug-o-War
Team building and fun competition! Split the campers into teams and have them compete in a tug-o-war tournament with brackets.
8. Friendship Bracelets
All of your campers probably won’t enjoy high maintenance and high energy games. Making friendship bracelets is a great, yet fun, way for everyone to feel included at camp. All you need is some string and a couple beads to make the perfect friendship bracelets.
9. Outdoor Projector Movie
Break out the popcorn and candy for a good ol’ outdoor movie night on the big projector screen. Having an outdoor movie on blankets near the campfire makes for a cozy and memorable camp experience.
Our list of the 5 Best Summer Camp Movies and TV Shows is a great place to start.
10. Water Slides
Water slides are a fun way to incorporate water into your outdoor summer camp activities. Add to the fun by adding baby soap to your water slides for a slippery experience. Whether you choose to rent or buy a water slide, your summer campers are sure to love it. If your camp is on the water, having the slide go into the body of water could be a fun twist.
11. Zip Line
Have a zip line built between two trees at your camp for a memorable experience!
12. Ropes Course
A ropes course is a fun addition to your summer camp. If your camp is lacking the resources for a typical ropes course high in the sky, improvise! A ropes course doesn’t need to be complex to create a fun time.
DIY ropes course:
- Set up a tarp on the ground
- Put stakes in the ground, randomly placed just outside the perimeter of the tarp
- Use rope or string to tie around the stakes, making a zig-zag path across the tarp about 1 foot from the ground
- Spray water and baby soap on the tarp
- Have teams compete by crawling under the ropes course in a race to the other side
Looking for something more plug and play? HearthSong makes great rope courses you can piece together.
13. Fun Ice-Breakers
- Two Truths and a Lie: The campers are split into teams ranging from about 5-10 in size. Each person thinks of two truths and one lie about themselves. The goal is to think of a lie that is believable. Then the campers go around the circle reciting their two truths and one lie. The other campers try to guess which one is their lie. There isn’t really a point system or winner, but it’s a fun and fast ice breaker.
- Speed Friending: The campers are asked to find a partner and assign themselves to be either peanut butter or jelly. The names aren’t important, you could come up with other pair names. Once the partners make their selection of either peanut butter or jelly, the camp directors will ask for all the peanut butters to make a circle and for the jellies to make a circle on the outer circle from the peanut butters and face their partner. Now the real fun begins. Set a timer for 30 seconds and have your campers “speed date” to get to know their partner. They can ask questions like where are you from, what are you looking forward to, do you have any pets, etc. The options are endless. Once the timer goes off, have the outer circle rotate one space clockwise so they’re now facing a new partner. The game ends once the campers have met several new people.
- Name That Tune: The campers are split into teams (at least two teams) with an even number of campers on each team. The camp director or counselor will play a song for the campers to guess and whichever team raises their hand first and knows the name of the tune, wins a point! The game is traditionally won once a team reaches 7 points, but you can adjust this to your liking.
- Never Have I Ever: This is the perfect game for wearing off some energy. Set up a massive circle of chairs with one chair for each camper. One camper will not have a chair and they will stand in the middle. The camper in the middle will say a true never have I ever statement. Everyone seated in chairs who has done the activity has to get up and run to another chair. The person who does not get a chair in time is the new person in the middle.
- Example: The person in the middle could say “never have I ever been on a cruise ship.” All the campers in chairs who have been on a cruise ship will then get up and run across the circle to find another chair.
Playing charades is a fun way to test your campers imagination. Split the campers into teams, then one camper from each team will try to act something out without speaking. The goal is for their team to get the answer right the fastest. Try implementing different themes and categories to change the difficulty of the game.
15. Scavenger Hunts
Curate a fun scavenger hunt to best fit your camp. To add some friendly competition, the different cabins and camper groups could compete against each other to see who can finish the scavenger hunt the fastest. The winning team gets a prize and bragging rights.
16. Ships and Sailors
The perfect game for wearing off energy. Your campers will feel exhausted after a couple games of ships and sailors. One person stands at the front and calls out commands for the entire camp. All the campers stand together in the middle listening to the commands and following them. If they do a command wrong, or can’t complete the command, they’re out. The goal is to be the last man standing and you win.
- Ships – Run to the left side.
- Sailors – Run to the right side.
- Captains Coming – Everyone stands on their feet and salutes while holding the position until the leader says “at ease.” If someone moves or follows another command before the leader says “at ease,” they’re out.
- Hit the deck – Fall to the ground and lay there.
- # men eating – The leader chooses the amount of men eating and then the players get in groups of that size, sit in a circle, and pretend to eat together. If someone can’t complete the task by finding the commanded number of people for the task, they’re out.
- # men rowing – Similar rules to # men eating, but players sit in a line and pretend they’re rowing a boat.
- Sea sick – Pretend to throw up
- Beached whale – Lie on your back
17. Flashlight Limbo
This game can be played indoors or outdoors, just make sure it’s dark. Use a strong flashlight to create a limbo bar of light. The campers will then try to limbo under the bar of light. If the light hits the camper because they didn’t limbo low enough, they’re out! Playing games in the dark can be more fun, but if you’re concerned about safety, limbo can be just as fun with a physical limbo bar in the light.
Everyone loves a fun karaoke night! Gather the campers together indoors, by the campfire, or in their cabins and have a karaoke night. Let the campers pick their song of choice and then sing their hearts out. They can sing solo, with a partner, or with a group.
19. Paddle Boats
If your camp is located on or near a body of water, break out the paddle boats! Paddle boats are a fun activity for middle schoolers and high schoolers. If you want to spice things up, host paddle boat races where the boats race against each other to the finish line.
20. Glow Stick Pool Party
A glow stick pool party is exactly what it sounds like. Wait until night time when it’s dark outside, throw glow sticks in the bottom of the pool, and have a pool party.
Painting is a fun and low energy activity to implement in your camp. It’s perfect for helping your campers wind down and practice their artistic skills. You could use paper, a canvas, or a piece of pottery for painting with a wide variety of paints.
22. Slip n Slide
There are a couple options for slip n slides. You could purchase a classic slip n slide with water, or you could purchase a big tarp for a diy slip n slide. Set the tarp on a hill with a water hose at the top, continuously spray water down the tarp while pouring baby soap to create a slippery and fun experience!
23. Corn hole
A fun game for middle school and high school age children. Cornhole can be competitive, or a casual game for fun.
24. Card Games
Card games are a simple and easy way to keep your campers entertained. They also serve as the perfect icebreaker for new campers just getting to know each other. Some fun card games are Uno, Memory, Skip-Bo, and Slapjack, or set out some playing cards and let your campers create their own card game.
25. Mini Golf
Building a mini golf course at your summer camp is sure to keep your campers talking about it for ages. Everyone loves a good ol’ game of mini golf, so why not implement it into your summer camp? Mini golf doesn’t have
26. 1-2-3 Look
Everyone gathers around in a circle and looks down at the ground. Whoever is the leader will say “1..2..3..look!” Once the leader finishes this command, everyone will quickly look up at someone else across the circle from them. If someone is looking back at them, both players are out, and the next round starts. The objective is to never lock eyes with someone and the last 2 people in the circle win.
Add some relaxation to your camp! Camps are fun and full of energy, but sometimes kids just need a break to themselves or want to relax. Having hammocks set up around your camp is a great way to encourage your campers to relax and take in nature. They could read a book, listen to some music, or take a nap. It’s up to them, but we think hammocks are a great addition to any summer camp.
28. Sponge Bulls-Eye
The perfect game for a hot summer day at camp. Teams each line up in front of a kiddie pool filled with water and a sponge. Teams then race against each other throwing the water filled sponges at the target and try to hit the bulls-eye. Each target is worth different points and the team with the most points wins.
29. Water Bucket Race
Cool off by having a water bucket race. Chances are, there won’t be much water left in the buckets by the end. Each team and its campers will get in a straight line across the field. They will each be given a bucket of water on one end of the line. The objective of the game is to pass the bucket to your teammate as quickly and carefully down the line as possible. The team who finishes the fastest and has the most water by the end wins.
30. Have a Camp Mascot
If you don’t already, implementing a summer camp mascot into your camp is a great way to create lasting memories for your campers. Whether you choose to have camp counselors take turns dressing up as the mascot, or having one designated person as the mascot for the duration of camp, this is a fun and unique way to increase camper morale and excitement. The camp mascot could make an appearance throughout various camp activities and encourage the campers. It’s a great way to get your campers excited and involved.
Final Wrap Up
We hope you found this list helpful for creating the best summer camp experience ever! With many different activities to choose from, you’re sure to keep your campers entertained all summer long and create memories that will last a lifetime.
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