How to Mke Summer Fun Without Summer Camp?

Updated on June 08, 2016
G.D. asks from Madison, WI
15 answers

School is almost out and I cant afford to send my kids to summer camp. It is too expensive. But I dont want them sitting around the house bored and eating up the groceries all summer. What are some things that I can do with them to make this summer fun?

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Thanks everyone! All od these are GREAT ideas! Today is the last day of school so the summer has officially started. Im ordering Kumon books so that she wiont go blank over the summer and thanks to you guys she wont be bored. I also found this website that email me a monthly calender of fun things that is going on for kids in my city.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Make your own summer camp! Do crafts, teach the kids how to cook, sit under a leafy tree with popsicles and read, play board games, go for a hike, play in the sprinklers, make your own slip n' slide, explore your city (Atlanta has a great metro system, doesn't it?), do a community service project (especially one that involves making something, like toys for a children's hospital), sing goofy songs, and camp out in your back yard. Get your kids to help you plan a theme for each week.

For a bit more variety, take a couple of field trips. Learn a new sport. Look online and in your local Parents paper for free or low cost programs. Go to a concert or play in the park. Put on your own play (you can enlist the neighborhood kids). Build a puppet theater and put on a puppet show. Let your kids do the building and write the script. Learn to play a new musical instrument (the recorder is an easy instrument that most kids can learn to play passably with little effort). Make your own wacky instruments and form a garage band. Do cool science experiments, like making water rockets or building the classic baking soda and vinegar volcano. (You can get better ideas on line or pick up a book at the library).

Encourage your kids to ask their own questions and create their own experiments. Use your imagination, and encourage your kids to use theirs. Not only will you and they have a fun summer, but you'll be amazed at how much these types of activities will help them retain their educational skills over the summer, and excel in the new school year. If you notice, within the activities I listed you're reinforcing skills in reading, writing, math, science, performing arts, fine arts, home economics, and social consciousness. Your kids will have so much fun, they won't even realize they're learning!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

start at your local public library - many will have summer reading programs (which will sometimes have some activities involved - one of our local libraries does a "Pizza read-a-thon" at the end of the summer with crafts and pizza for the kids, and a few local nature and science museums donate free or discount admissions as prizes for completing the summer reading program), story or craft or activity times, and possibly even discount or free admissions to local museums or parks. Check with your local parks and recreation department to see if they have any community events planned such as free concerts, 4th of July parades, nature programs in the regional parks, etc. See if any community gardens need volunteer help.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Vacation Bible schools. Many are free and you can always stagger them so you go to a different one each week.

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answers from Minneapolis on

For me, this would take some planning, but not too much. I might think of the things your kids like to do, and do some research about local activities that are free or inexpensive. Then maybe sketch out a few things to do for the week, but be open to changing if some new idea comes up. The details will depend on how old they are, what they like, and what's available.

For my daughter, it would include a summer pass to a local swimming pool, exploring new playgrounds, visits to the library, the science museum, and maybe a community park&rec activity/class. Bike rides to new places with a picnic lunch along. She also likes to build things. I would also need to identify other families with kids home to play with.

I'd need to have somewhat of a plan, or it's too easy to sit around trying to decide what to do next, and wasting time (like on this website :-))!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

Here is what I suggest, and they have worked for me as a stay at home mom. Kids Bowl for Free is a great program - google it and sign up asap! Plan your week in advance. If you have access to a pool, pick 3 days a week to go there for several hours. Even if you have to pay a small fee, it's better than them sitting inside watching tv all day. Usually those fees are minimal at recreation departments if you are a resident of the county where the pool is located. I am fortunate to live near the beach, so we make that a once a week (sometimes 2x) trip. Lots of movie theaters offer free kid movies on certain days of the week in the mornings. Vacation Bible school programs usually are relatively cheap and they are 1/2 days for a full week or two. Most libraries offer summer reading programs. Take them to the library for a couple hours once a week. Take advantage of your local parks - usually they are free or very inexpensive to get into. Good luck and have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My area has kids bowl for free google it and see if it's offered near you. You don't say how old your kids are so it's hard to give ideas.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It really depends on how old they are... but I cannot remember that my mom ever bothered to worry that we would not be bored over the summer...

First thing I would do is cut the TV, restrict it to certain times so they don't end up turning their brains to mush.
Then find out what other kids won't attend summer camps. I am sure yours are not the only ones. Take turns hosting them in your home for playdates.

If you have a yard, tell them to go play outside. They are kids, they should be able to occupy themselves for a few hours in the backyard (if they are not too young). We did it when we were little... they can do it too. It may take them a little time to adjust...

If money is tight carefully plan a mix of free and expensive activities: libraries and parks are free, zoo, museum etc. can be expensive depending on how many kids you have. Make sure to check out if they offer any discounts for less busy days or times. Here our museums have a free night every month.
Don't be their party planner and let them take some responsibility to make their summer fun!
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

hit the websites for your city & enjoy all that it has to offer!

& one system which works well for us....would be: before any electronics are turned on, my son has to either ride his bike (or walk) thru the neighborhood. This has worked so well that there are days when the game system is not even turned on! ....& I rejoice!

But I will also say that it really helps if you have your kids involved in activities such as the local library, Scouts, 4H, sports, etc. This usually offers multiple opportunities thruout the summer! This year, my son will be 15 & he's very active in Scouts. He will be camping/hiking/canoeing for almost 3 full weeks btwn June & July. & then he has 1 1/2 weeks of Band Camp prepping for his 1st year in H.S. We're still trying to figure out how to fit in vacations!

Oh, & don't forget the thrill & excitement of setting up a tent in the backyard! It's amazing how much fun this can be.....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I know Atlanta has many public pools and a couple of pool/gym combos ( I think they are called natatoriums?). You don't say how many kids you have or how old they are, but a family pass good for a whole year is just over $200. I know my kids would swim every day if we had something like that here. When they were younger we lived in a neighborhood with a pool and we went almost every day all all summer. We would pack a lunch and swim until naptime, then go back and swim until dinner! Boy did they sleep well! We did this with other families in the neighborhood so the kids were never bored. Maybe some of your friends with kids would like to have a 'wet' summer with you and your kids. Overall, it is a very economical way to get your kids out of the house and having fun.
Just a thought. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I know this is a bit late, but take all this and make your own "center" calendar for fun!:)



answers from Augusta on

libraries and parks often have summer programs for free, um , some fast food restaurants have summer fun things.
check your area for parks with splash parks.
get some water baloons , invest in a little wading pool, water guns, water slide, I don't know how old your children but sprinklers , etc provide tons of fun for kids.



answers from Atlanta on

I'd like to hear what other moms have done too. Some things we've done: no tv between 9 and 5, let them pick out summer work books and reward them for doing a certain number of pages per day. Picnics at parks with play equipment. Swimming - wherever you can find it. bargain matinee movies. Trips to the library as often as they need it. Taking "noticing" walks with or without pets - what do is look for what's different from the last walk, insects, wild and domestic animal life, foliage, blooming flowers... Playdates are a great way to spend the day - though you may have to schedule around other kids' camp schedules. Helping with a home project like looking for plants that with interesting features, like fuzzy leaves, that might grow near you. Arts and crafts if your kids are into that.


answers from Los Angeles on

Let’s make your own summer camp. It is the perfect time to help your child find books and magazines that match her interests. Read together or start an informal book club with your child and a few friends. Help your child retain reading, writing and math skills this summer without making it feel like work. Incorporate learning into daily errands and interactive activities found in your own backyard. Kids can learn more about their environment by cultivating their own fruits and vegetables. Involve your child in meal planning and preparation. Depending on your child's age, he could be responsible for a meal once a week. These types of activities will help them keep their educational skills over the summer, and excel in the new school year.



answers from Macon on

Do you have a couple of other parents in your same position> if so, get with them and plan your summer together.
Make your own summer camp! Each of you pick 3 subjects. Nature- go on a hike, find some things to collect and then find out what the name is and where is comes from and who benefits (birds, mice, etc). Track Animal foot prints, find and identify. Do arts & crafts. Make a musical instrument out of something found in nature, or recycled items. Teach them about recycling. Call a local business -Krisy Kreme for instance. Ask if you can bring 10 kids by for a tour of donut making. Might ask if they can have a donut at the end of the tour! Check with the movie theatres for their summer kid movies. I think they are $1.00 here and $1.0 for popcorn, drink etc. They show great movies....
With the internet, there are endless resources to finding directions, ideas and help for all kinds of summer fun that doesn't cost alot! St parks will cost a little for parking but hiking is free. There are free parks with free hiking trails, too! Check the pools for prices for free time. Maybe one of the parents in the group has a pool?
Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

How old are your children?

You could always take a little road trip not too far away to a lake or something and have fun. Bring some fishing poles, cooler of snacks and a picnic lunch.

Go for a hike!

You could get outside play games, do arts and crafts and paint outside.
Buy a sandbox

There are lots of things to do, and endless possibilities! Ask your children what they think is fun and what they want to do and see their ideas.

Have fun!

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