Summer camp should be filled with a host of fun themed projects, crafts and activities that will not only entertain the children but also stimulate learning. These craft project ideas provide kids with mementos of the experiences they've shared with friends at camp.
Summer Camp Themes
Many camps like to use a different theme each year, or rotate through themes on a weekly basis. Choosing a theme will give cohesiveness to the projects and will help keep the interest of returning campers. There are a variety of different themes that can be incorporated into camp crafts and activities. Some theme ideas include:
- Bugs: Create a variety of arts and crafts to resemble bugs, or use bugs as part of a craft, all the while learning about insects and their role in nature
- Animals: Local native animals, including birds, can inspire all kinds of project ideas
- Wilderness: Spend some time in the great outdoors creating crafts from many of Mother Nature's gifts
- Leadership: Building self-esteem is an important part of the camp experience for kids
- Pirates: Campers can learn about historic pirates, sailing skills and can even go on a treasure hunt
- Summer sports: From swimming to hiking, there are numerous outdoor sports and games that children of all ages will enjoy
Many camps are centered around common interests, such as Bible camp or horse camp. These groups can plan crafts around the focus of the camp, as well as incorporating additional themes.
Summer Camp Memory Craft Projects
Teach children about friendship and preserving memories with some friendship building crafts and activities.
Help camp kids create an autograph book worthy of the red carpet to help keep their summer camp memories alive after they get home.
- Hole Punch
- Pens and Markers
- Card stock
- Have kids create cover art for the autograph book using their favorite or current camp theme
- Stack paper between the cover and a piece of card stock on the back (should have at least 10 sheets of paper)
- Punch three holes in a stack of paper and card stock
- Thread a piece of yarn through a hole and tie the ends into a bow
- Repeat for other holes
- Give each camper a pen or marker
Have the kids mingle and sign the autograph books. Encourage them to write positive statements about each other when they sign.
Making a memory box is a creative way to preserve camp souvenirs. Use this craft to store items collected on a nature walk, or other small crafts.
- Wood or cardboard box with a lid
- Acrylic paint
- Acrylic sealer spray
- White glue
- Other embellishments
- Paint the box and lid in desired color
- Cut out magazine images related to your camp theme
- Glue images onto the box and lid (make sure lid will still fit tightly)
- Spray acrylic sealer spray onto box
- Allow it to dry
- Add feathers, stickers and other embellishments to the box if desired
Creating a scrapbook will help keep memories alive for the campers, and will also give them a creative outlet to express themselves. If any theme weeks incorporate photography or other paper-based, flat artwork, this is a great way to present them.
- Acid free paper and card stock
- Acid free pen
- Photos and memorabilia from camp
- Stickers and embellishments (use camp related stickers or incorporate embellishments that reflect a theme)
- Acid free glue or adhesive
- Allow campers to arrange their favorite photos or artwork on scrapbook pages
- Add embellishments and stickers
- Journal or write captions with acid free pen
- Secure items with glue or adhesive
- Create a front and back cover out of card stock
- Staple the cover, back cover and pages together to create the book
Campers can trade photos or art so the scrapbooks contain not only their own camp memories, but those of their friends as well.
Useful Craft Activities
These crafts make useful items that campers can take home and continue to use long after summer camp is over.
Water Bottle Bag
Create a functional and fashionable holder for a water bottle out of some old jeans. After camp, use the holder to carry a water bottle to school.
- Leg of an old pair of jeans (cut the leg about 11 inches from the bottom cuff)
- Needle and thread
- Strong ribbon
- Water bottle
- Turn the pant leg inside out
- Sew the raw edges together, leaving the hemmed ends open
- Turn the denim leg right side out to form the bag
- Sew one end of the ribbon to one side of the bag
- Sew the other end of the ribbon to the other side of the bag to form a handle
- Place a water bottle inside the bag
The ribbon can be long enough to carry over the shoulder or across the body, or leave it short to carry in your hand. You can also sew a pocket, taken from the same pair of jeans, on the outside of the bag to store a map or small snack.
Popsicle Stick Bookmark
A popsicle stick bookmark is a simple project to make that can be given as a gift to parents when the campers return home.
- 3 colored popsicle sticks (either buy the sticks already colored from a craft store, or paint plain sticks)
- Stickers based on camp theme
- Glue 3 popsicle sticks together by placing a thin line of glue along the sides
- Attach stickers for decoration, incorporating camp themes
- Glue a piece of thin ribbon to the back of the middle stick so it hangs over the bookmark
- String some beads onto the end of the ribbon
- Tie a knot at the end to keep the beads in place
Most campers bring a bag of personal belongings with them. Help campers create tags to help them quickly and easily identify their personal belongings.
- Key ring hardware (available at craft stores)
- Large plastic beads (Some with letters and some plain)
- Cut a piece of yarn that is about 10 inches long
- Tie it onto a key ring at the halfway point
- Cut the yarn so both ends are even
- Thread beads onto the yarn
- Campers can spell their name with the lettered beads if desired
- Tie a knot onto the end to secure beads
- Tie a ribbon at the top, by the key ring, for a decorative touch (optional)
A similar project is to have campers create original jewelry pieces out of beads, yarn and other simple material.
Activities Using Found Items
Ask campers to collect natural objects such as pine cones, rocks and twigs to create nature-inspired crafts, perfect for any nature theme. There are a variety of projects and activities that can be enjoyed outdoors.
Many younger kids feel sad about leaving their family pet while they are at camp, while others simply desire a pet of their own. Help them create a pet rock to keep them company.
- Found rocks
- Googly eyes
- Paint a rock in a bright color or pattern, or leave plain
- Allow paint to dry completely
- Glue googly eyes onto rock
- Add small pieces of yarn to the top for hair, and paint on any details like facial features or a tail
- Allow glue to dry
This project works with any theme, but especially supports a bug, animal or nature theme.
Nature Collage Photos
Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the best parts of camp, and creating a collage inspires kids to see the beauty in their surroundings. This activity can be undertaken in groups or individually.
- Digital cameras
- Computer and printer with ink or a printer with a memory card slot
- Found objects
- Arrange leaves, rocks, flowers and other items into a pattern, symbol, or word. This can reflect a specific theme, or fit into a general nature theme.
- Snap several photos of the creation from different angles
- Print the photos
If the children are very young, have camp counselors take and print the photos.
Preserve and study the beauty of nature by making prints from items found outdoors..
- Fallen leaves, flowers, tree bark, twigs and other items found on a nature walk that have a distinct shape or pattern
- Ink pad or markers
- Dip one of the items into the ink or color with a marker
- Press it firmly against the paper to create a print
- Lift the item slowly
- Continue with other objects to fill the paper
- Allow ink to dry
You can also use this technique to create note cards from card stock for writing home or keeping in-touch with camp friends, or use fabric paint and plain t-shirts to make keepsake crafts.
Summer Camp Crafts Create Memories
Summer camp crafts should be fun and easy to make, and should capture the essence of the camp experience. Incorporate themes into crafts and activities whenever possible to keep kids immersed in the ideas and skills they are learning. Vary the type and difficulty level of craft projects so that all campers will discover something they really enjoy.