Starting a business

Summer camp ideas for all ages and abilities (with lesson plan)

Summer camp is one of the most popular ways for children to spend their time while school is out. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), more than 14 million children and adults participate in the camp experience over the summer. 

If you are a children’s activity provider, adding summer camp to your programming can help you reach more families, increase your bottom line, and continue to grow your business. If you are looking for guidance on summer camp ideas, you’ve come to the right place. At Sawyer, our goal is to help children’s activity providers thrive so they can spend more time doing what they love: changing the lives of children.

In this article, we’ll review the types of summer camps and include some of our favorite summer camp ideas for all ages and abilities. Looking for more support? We created an ultimate guide to starting and running a summer camp where we outline each step you need to take to be successful. 

Types of summer camps

The first step of starting a summer camp is deciding the type of camp you want to run. There are 3 main types of summer camps: virtual, day camp, and sleepaway (residential) camp. When you are just starting out, we recommend sticking with one type of camp and then as you grow and establish yourself, you can expand to include more types of camps or ages of campers.

  • Day camps: Day camps often range in time from 1 hour to a full day. The important differentiator between day camps and other types of camps is that children do not sleep at the camp overnight (but some children might nap there, depending on age and length of the day). 
  • Sleepaway camps: At sleepaway camps, the campers spend the night on the grounds of the camp with the staff. Sleepaway camps can take place in nature, on college campuses, or in another type of space that has room to house the campers and staff.
  • Virtual camps: Virtual camps take place online. They can be as short as 1 hour and as long as a full day. However, they are not usually that long because of the attention spans of their campers as well as parent viewpoints on screen time. 

The type of camp you choose will help determine the activities and lessons you teach during your program. For example, if you are running a virtual camp, it might be difficult to practice soccer drills, but art and music activities could be perfect. 

Photo of summer camp ideas

Summer camp ideas for all ages and abilities

Once you have decided which type of camp you will run, you can start thinking about the theme and activities. Some camps focus on one type of activity or theme, like STEM, music, art, or chess, while others are more general, enrichment camps. 

To help you decide, check out some of our favorite summer camp ideas for all ages and abilities, including activities your campers will love!

Sports camps

You can choose to run a sports camp that focuses on one sport, like soccer or tennis, or all different types of sports. Generally, sports camps are great for children who are looking for active summer plans. Try these activities if you plan to run a sports camp for kids.

  1. Passing by number. This activity can be done for soccer or basketball. In this drill, each player is given a number. Then, the goal is to have them move around the field/court and pass to the next number in order. It’s a fun drill for kids because it can get a little silly as they have to focus on their brain and their feet at the same time. This is also a good warm up drill because it gets the group moving.
  2. Target practice. This activity is perfect for tennis, baseball/softball, soccer, basketball, and really any sport with a ball! Have the coach set up targets on the court/field and ask the campers to practice their aim. Award points based on difficulty to make the game more fun!
  3. Relay races. Get your campers moving and having fun with relay races. Sports requires quick feet and endurance, so coming up with fun races can help your campers get better at their sport while taking a break from the competition.

Remember that safety comes first! With the warm summer weather, it is important to have time for rest. Check out our guide with activities for hot summer days to sprinkle into your sports camp planning.

Art camps

Art helps children express themselves, enhance their imagination, and even increase their motor skills. Art camps are perfect for children who are interested in the subject and want to explore art without grades or rigidity. Try some of these activities to teach art to your campers.

  1. Illustrate stories. Combine art and storytelling by having your campers create illustrations along with a story they hear or even write (depending on their age). This is a great way to show students that art doesn’t have to be abstract. You can do this as a one-off activity or over a few camp periods, depending on the length of the story.
  2. Natural art. Take advantage of the beautiful summer weather and combine nature with art. Ask your campers to walk around the campgrounds or a park and find flowers, rocks, pinecones, and other elements that inspire them. Then, bring them back to the art room and ask them to make multimedia pieces.
  3. Friendship bracelets. Is it really summer camp without friendship bracelets? Get out the string, beads, and small charms and let your campers go wild making shareable jewelry for all of their new camp BFFs.
Photo of art camps for kids

Music camps

Whether you want to teach musical theatre, an instrument, singing, or all of the above, music camps help children explore their passion for music and continue to advance in the subject. These activities can help you spread the joy of music with all of your campers.

  1. Finish that tune. As you prepare older children for musicals, it is important for them to be familiar with music and comfortable with singing. In this game, you can play parts of a song from a musical or famous artist or you can sing them yourself and then have the children finish that tune on their own. Pay close attention to their pitch to make sure they are getting their notes right.
  2. Music from books. In this activity, you can read aloud a classic children’s book and let your campers play music along with the story. Try to get them to highlight the feelings and emotions from the story through their instruments.
  3. Move to the music. Music and movement go hand-in-hand. In this activity, play different styles of music and ask your campers to make up dances or movements that match the music. It’s a great way to get your campers up and active and help them explore new types of music.

Looking for more support on teaching music to kids? Check out our full guide!

STEM camps

Summer is a wonderful time for children to dive deeper into their passions. When children enjoy science and math in school, they can participate in a STEM camp over the summer to discover how those subjects lead to exciting activities like coding, robotics, and more.

  1. Build in Minecraft or Roblox. Minecraft and Roblox are creative earl-coding platforms that children can use to get a feel for programming. There are so many incredible things that they can build using these platforms. You can let them have free reign or provide scaffolding as they work. Check out our full guide with information to help you teach kids to code.
  2. Play chess. When children play chess, they practice problem solving, forward thinking, and perseverance. Start with fun chess mini-games and work your way up to full chess games. Use our guide to help you teach chess to kids.
  3. Run a science experiment. Go through the full scientific process with your campers. Start with a hypothesis, gather the materials, run your experiment, make changes, and gather conclusions. Your campers will love learning and having fun at the same time. Need some inspiration? Here are our favorite science lessons and experiments for kids.

How to write a summer camp lesson plan

Now that you have some ideas for summer camp activities for all ages and abilities, you are ready to write your lesson plans! Don’t forget: a lesson plan is the key to successful teaching, even if you are an expert.

Use our editable summer camp lesson plan guide to adapt your own summer camp lesson plans.

Get your editable summer camp lesson plan template

You’re all set!
By signing up, you accept our Terms of Use and have read our Privacy Policy.
Oops! Something’s wrong. Please refresh and try again.

If you are ready to start a kids camp and run it successfully, the team at Sawyer is here to support you! We have the best camp registration and management software, which helps hundreds of camps across the country save time on admin so they can spend more time changing the lives of their campers. 

With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing more of what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

Frequently Asked Questions

No items found.
To see Sawyer for Business in action, speak with our team today.
Get Started
Similar Posts