How to Plan a “Summer Camp” for Your Kids At Home

Summer At Home Danielle Jackson
photo by Leo Rivas, Unsplash

It’s almost that time again! My kids can’t wait, but if you are wondering how you are going to fill the days without back-to-back expensive camps, I would like to share what worked for us when we lived overseas. This idea may help create some structure and fun for your kids this summer without breaking the bank or losing your sanity. 

To provide some background, our family of five lived in Japan for four and a half years on a small U.S. Army base and absolutely loved it! However, the summers were tough as most of my three kids’ friends would travel back to the U.S. or elsewhere for the summer. There were only two weeks of camp offered (one week of soccer, one week of VBS) with very limited activities offered for kids. Thankfully, there was a pool, but it was closed two days a week. 

As our family goal was to save money while we were overseas, I had to be thoughtful on how to create fun and memorable summers for my kids. I decided on “theme” days to give our days some structure while also leaving some room for creativity and spontaneity. The beauty is that you can choose whatever theme days make sense for you, but I’ll share what we did below. 

“Summer Camp” Theme Days:

  • Mondays – Movement Monday
  • Tuesdays – Trip Tuesdays
  • Wednesdays – Water Wednesdays
  • Thursdays – Thoughtful Thursdays 
  • Fridays – Family Feast Fridays 

(Pool was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

Read below for more details for each themed day as it may spark some ideas for you.

Movement Mondays – This was our day to move our bodies. Go biking, running, walking, basketball, soccer, yoga, exercise video, etc. Really anything to incorporate some form of healthy movement with the goal of trying something new. 

Trip Tuesdays – This was our day to get off base and tour a bit of Japan. We loved to go to Tokyo to explore and visit some of the cafes such as the hedgehog cafe and mini pig cafe or even visit a local Daiso (Japan’s dollar store) or the beach. Perhaps that could mean visiting a farm, a playground, an arcade, movie or a friend’s house for you. 

Water Wednesdays – The pool would finally be open, so we would go to the pool or the beach if we haven’t already been during the week. My kids absolutely love the water and it’s such a great way to expend some of their energy. 

Thoughtful Thursdays – A day to do something nice for someone else. My kids could write a card, give someone a compliment, do something nice for a neighbor or surprise us with an extra chore around the house. I find that kids like to choose their own activity instead of being told what to do. One time my kids even hosted a lemonade stand to raise money for charity. 

Family Feast Fridays -We wanted our kids to learn some budgeting and cooking skills, so my two older kids would pick out the menu, go grocery shopping and then they would prepare the meal (all with help). I really loved this idea, but in truth, we only did this a few times since we would often go out to eat on Fridays to enjoy some yummy Japanese food. However, now that we are back in Florida, we may do this again. This can also be a great way to help with picky eaters as they are more likely to eat something they helped to make. 

Our days were tailored to our overseas experience and what was available, but there are lots of ideas to tailor to your kid’s interest and what works for your family. 

photo by Ashton Bingham, Unsplash

Here are some other “Summer Camp” Theme ideas:

Movie Monday – have a movie day to escape the heat

Tricky Tuesday – learn a new magic trick and ultimately host a magic show

Wacky Wednesday – switch things up and have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner, wear your outfit backwards, etc. 

Thrifty Thursday – make a new craft each Thursday

Fun Friday – let the kids pick a new activity each week and/or make it a game day

I found having some structure gives the kids a routine with something to look forward to as well as participate in the planning. We will definitely do themed days again this summer when the kids aren’t at camp! 

Do you have any additional ideas for themed “summer camp” days? If so, please share!


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Danielle Jackson is a mom to three active kids and a certified life coach. Her passion is helping stay-at-home moms and those in stagnant careers uncover their unique gifts and skills to translate these into new opportunities, so they can feel purposeful and energized again. Danielle has worked as a marketing professional in both the corporate and non-profit sectors and, more recently, in education, including teaching Conversational English while living in Japan with her family for four and a half years. Her family of five is now back in the sunshine state of Florida, and you can often find them at the beach or a sports field. Her desire and passion for helping other moms is a guiding light in our community because she cares and loves what she does; most of all understands firsthand what it is like to be a mom!


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