You can still have fun all summer long–even during a pandemic

Hey, parents! Welcome to July! It’s time to take off your teacher hats and put on your summer counselor caps. Stressful to think about? Don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to bring summer camp right into your backyard.

Think about your normal summer traditions and tweak them.

What do you normally do during the summer? Beach days? Camping trips? Summer camp? Amusement park vacations? Think about what you normally do for fun, and huddle up with your family to brainstorm ways to tweak it at home. This is a great time to get your kids involved in planning. They’re creative and are looking for things to do, so capitalize on it.

Read on for some ideas for how to turn your backyard into a summer vacation.

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Backyard summer fun ideas

Bringing the beach or community pool to your backyard
  • Bring the sand to you. All you need is a sandbox (or even a tarp with sand dumped on it).  If you’re crafty, here’s a great covered one from HGTV.  But you can also make a great sand play area for kids with large tubs filled with sand and scooping items recycled from your kitchen (e.g., old measuring cups, whipped topping tubs, empty jars). Children’s imaginations are so great that they can see potential in everyday things, so don’t worry if you can’t make a fancy box!
  • Make a backyard water park. Slip n Slides (or a slippery tarp), inflatable pools, sprinklers, splash balls. Get creative.
  • Beach ball volleyball. You can play the traditional way or see how long you can keep the ball up in the air.
  • More ideas from Melissa and Doug.
Backyard summer camp
  • Nature walk.  Get out and explore the outdoors (or even the backyard) on a nature hike together. Try to identify flowers, trees, birds, and other animals.
  • Skits. What summer camp is complete without silly skits? Create a stage area in your backyard and act out scenes from your favorite books, movies, or made up stories!
  • Obstacle Course and other activities. Camping is all about fun activities. Create some activity stations in your backyard or as an obstacle course. Play old school games like three legged races, potato sack races, spoon and egg races. Tug of War on a tarp (chocolate pudding on the tarp makes it super slippery and fun). Set up easels for backyard painting. See more ideas for summer camp in this post.
  • Campfire stories. Tell stories around a firepit (or fake fire). Make s’mores on the real fire or microwave. Musician in the family? Have them lead a sing-a-long or play an outdoor concert.
  • Camp outdoors. No one said camping has to be in a state park. Sleep in a tent in your backyard. Or create a tent with blankets in your living room.
Amusement park–backyard version
  • Design a roller coaster. PBS learning media has a fun lesson plan for how to design a roller coaster, and so does Education World.  Want to do more? K’Nex has some building sets
  • Make your favorite theme park recipes. Our family favorite is Dole Whip. 
  • Dress up as your favorite characters and watch related movies. 
  • Epcot Days. We are big fans of World Showcase in our house, so we love theme nights based on the countries. Make your favorite world showcase dishes (and cocktails for the adults). Do some research and learn more the actual countries represented. And listen to music from around the world. 

Fun is all about family–wherever you are!

Don’t let the pandemic stop you from having family fun. With a little creativity, you can transform your backyard (or living room) into a wonderful summer camp space. For more ideas, tune into Facebook Live on 7/4 at 10 AM EST for my next Walk with a Doc. I’ll be showing you ways to set up your backyard for lots of active fun!

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