Camp Mom: DIY

Do It Yourself Summer Camp Ideas

By Debby Perry June 21, 2023

Let's face it.  Not everyone has the ability, or the means, to send their children to a local summer camp in Pittsburgh, so we've created some CAMP MOM (or Camp Dad) ideas!  Gather some neighborhood kids each week or simply do this with your own family during the summer! Perhaps one day a week throughout the summer works for you and your group, or perhaps you want to dedicate ONE FULL WEEK to neighborhood summer camp.

Any way you slice it, use these ideas below to make it super fun and simply organized! 

Daily Ideas for DIY Summer Camps 

Make It Monday! 

Let this be a building day!  Use any sort of prop that gets your little engineer creating, building and inventing! Legos, duplo bricks, puzzles, wood scraps, pool noodles, kinex and more!   All will surely turn into something great-- A MEMORY!

Trip Time Tuesday!

Let your children determine where you'll roam today!  Give them a list to choose from and plan your day with them!  Museums, movies, the Aviary, a park, a library, a tour, a bike ride, a community service project, mini golf.  All great ideas! 

Get Wet Wednesday! 

Whether you venture to the pool, stay in your backyard or go to the local spray park this is one day that's gonna be COOL!  Experiment with water balloons, ice and more.  Hook up the house or have some fun with SPONGES and buckets! Finish it all off with Popsicle!  

Think It Out Thursday!

Great minds start somewhere!  Have your children think of a topic that they want to explore or find the answer to.  How are crayons made?  Where DOES all of our garbage go? TODAY is the day to think of a topic and then explore, observe and educate to find the answers! 

Fun Friday, FREE Friday, Friend Friday!

All are great options for ending the week on a fantastic note!  Bring a friend over to watch a movie.  Have a dance party in the kitchen.  Bake a new recipe TOGETHER for dinner!   Make an obstacle course on the driveway!  Whatever you decide, let the kids get involved and in on the FUN!

Neighborhood Summer Camp

If you choose to work with other Moms and create CAMP NEIGHBORHOOD, here are some basic guidelines to help you get started.  Feel free to tweak these any way you see fit and don't forget to tag us in your photos using #pghmackid!

1.  Have your summer camp take place only one day a week. 

2.  Each week, one mom from the group is responsible for the theme of the summer camp that week. 

3.  Stay organized!  Send an email out the week before with activity details, supply requirements, snack needs and directions to any locations if applicable.  

4.  HAVE FUN!  Don't be too serious. It IS summer after all!

Neighborhood Summer Camp Theme Ideas 

Camp Anything Goes!

Drama, sports, arts/ crafts, music, swimming and even CAMPFIRE time!  Who doesn't like smores!  Make your camp the typical camp by including sports, arts, crafts, drama, outdoor activities, swimming and campfire time!  

Camp Sports Rock!

Back away from all the typical sports your children are familiar with.  Try a NEW sport.  Go to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls.  Try a PAR 3.  Check out a martial arts school or deck hockey! Volleyball or field hockey?  Tennis anyone?  Test out some rock climbing, ultimate Frisbee, geocaching, indoor ice skating or BMX biking!  If it interests your kiddo, TRY IT!

Crafty Campers Camp!

All that's required for this camp are a some materials and some creativity!  Bedazzle anything you can imagine, make some t-shirts, tu-tus, hats or bird house.  There are TONS of ideas on Pinterest for everyday crafts. If you want to go the more artsy route, introduce a new art "medium" each day. Clay, watercolors, pastels etc.  Anything that's a new experience is a learning opportunity!

Camp Actors Are Awesome

Drama is the name of the game!  Write and produce a simple skit together. Try some improve.  Host a neighborhood talent show or play around with some graphic programs that help create comic books or mini films.  Pick your child's favorite book and allow them to bring it to life!

Camp Cooks R Us

This is a great opportunity to show kids around the kitchen.  Not only to hone up on those math skills but to try some NEW foods!  Make a new recipe, explore international foods, check out the local grocery store for fresh ingredients, write a cookbook for the neighborhood.  

Camp Nature Lover

Get a map. Locate local state parks, nature preserves or hiking trails.  Make scavenger hunts of animals and nature items to look for.  Fall in love with NATURE that's right around you!

Community Helpers Camp

Give back!  We ALWAYS love to encourage this option. Plan a way to help your local community. Clean up a local playground. Plant flowers. Clean up litter in your neighborhood. Read at the library. It's your chance to show your children how to plan and carry out a community giving project!

Museum Adventure Camp

Pittsburgh has amazing museums!  Take advantage of it one week.  Visit one museum per day and make a scavenger hunt list to help make it interesting!  Look for unusual museums in our area.  The Trolley museum is one that comes to mind!

Family Camp

Get together with a few other families and compete in your own family camp!  Plan activities for all age groups that involve partnering with parents!  Hula hoop, dizzy bat, Marco-mom (blindfolded and call out your mom's name to find you)!

Some additional ideas we found.

  • Noodle obstacle course!
  • Hula Hoop contest!
  • Water balloon Toss.
  • Make a family flag. Present the flags to music!
  • Family t-shirt making
  • End the day with a pool visit and a BBQ dinner
Any way you spin it, DIY camp is one way to make great memories with your kiddos this summer!

Original article was published in 2016 by Debby Perry and updated in 2023 by Emily Papa.