After three months of online school and at-home daycare, we finally get to have a summer vacation! However, we’re all a bit uncertain, since many of us are still working at home, not traveling, and many summer camps are delaying opening. That leaves June and parts of July and August with not much to do. To avoid couch potatoes and the too many “I’m so bored” complaints this summer, here’s some alternatives:
Many camp programs have transitioned online to engage our kids; some even provide supply boxes to enhance their hands-on learning. The plus to this is that many camps that your child may not have been able to attend due to location are now available nationwide. Here’s a list of camps that we thought sounded pretty cool, some starting as soon as early June 2020.
Camp KiwiCo (ages 3+, free)
Act One Theatre Camp (ages 6+, theatre)
Second City Online Camp (ages 7+, comedy)
Super Soccer Stars (ages 3-10, sports)
Camp Hullabaloo (ages 2-8, book club)
Healthy Teens (ages 12-14, free)
Bakeativity Bake-A-Camp (ages 6-11, baking)
Woof Wag Dogs Training Camp (ages 9-13, dog training)
Camp WIT (teens, entrepreneurship)
Varsity Tutors (ages 5-18, free)
Smart Buddies Virtual Camp-in-a-Box (ages 7-11, coding)
Outschool (ages 3+, virtual courses)
CEO of my Life (ages 9-17, entrepreneurship)
Subscription boxes have become popular in the last few years, with new subscription options geared toward kids. These boxes provide monthly themes and activities to keep your child entertained and learning.
KiwiCo (ages 0-14) – this provides monthly developmentally appropriate STEAM-themed activities.
Kidstir Cooking Kit (ages 5-10) – provides recipes and cooking-related activities.
R&T Crew (ages 6-10) – this box, designed for children who love cars and trucks, provides a themed box filled with vehicle inspired activities, clothing accessories, and a magazine.
Little Passports Box (ages 3+) – this provides monthly cultural and STEM-themed activities. They also provide Summer Camp in a Box for ages 5-10.
Spangler Science Club (ages 5-12) – provides monthly science experiments.
Brick Loot by Lego (ages 6+) – provides monthly Lego sets and related items.
Bitsbox (ages 6-14) – this monthly box provides a new project, introducing computer science.
America’s Test Kitchen Kids’ Young Chefs’ Club (ages 5+) – provides themed cooking related activities.
Just Like Me! Box (ages 0-12) – this monthly box provides 2-3 books featuring characters of color so children of color can see themselves in literature.
Girls Can! Crate (ages 5-10) – this monthly box provides activities to inspire and empower young girls.
Little Global Citizens (ages 4-10) – the bi-monthly box provides activities learning about different countries.
Group Together with Your Neighbors
Lots of teachers, day-care workers, and college students are looking for part-time summer positions. A few of our neighbors have grouped together to split the cost of a part-time caregiver who can lead activities and get the kids outside. This is a good option if you just need to keep your kids busy for the morning, or if you are used to doing part-time school. Lots of great caregivers also specialize in outdoor activities or art activities, or even tutoring.
Check out Care.com (not sponsored, we just love it), or Facebook. There are lots of parenting groups or babysitting boards where sitters or families are posting about availability.
At Childish Advice, we know the days can get really long when we’re piling parenting and working and home life. A great tip we learned from this pandemic is to put together a structured, hour-by-hour schedule. When kids have a set schedule and know what to expect, they are less likely to get bored or anxious.
Adjust your kids’ daily schedules for the summer by building in a mix of independent play, physical activities, wind-down activities, and weekly special occasions. Some independent play or learning time in the morning, outside or physical play (maybe on their backyard obstacle course or water play) before lunch, rest up by watching a movie, napping, or reading in the afternoon, and then family time in the evening.
In each of these time periods, plan one cool new activity or theme for the week. We’ve seen all-family reading time, or family bike rides or walks. A weekly movie night or game night is always a favorite. Growing up, we had “Banana Splits for Dinner” night. Since we’re Filipino, every now and then we’d have a big family egg-rolling night (aka Lumpia Night).
Think of family pastimes or new traditions to introduce over the summer. Check out Pinterest or Instagram for other fun ideas to mix it up.
This type of scheduling makes it easy for kids and way easier for you, since you know what to expect and what to plan day-by-day. If you are working from home, divide the hours when you are working and when you are parenting. You can also split time with your spouse for more flexibility and balance.
There are tons of summer activities and projects on Pinterest to keep your kids busy, but remember, it’s not your job to entertain your kid 24/7. We hope these give you some good alternatives or ideas for filling the summer days, while also keeping “camp director” off your resumé. Switch up your approach for this summer and maybe your kids will find something new to love and share.
“6 ideas for summer fun now that camp has been canceled“, Matt Villano. CNN, May 20, 2020.
“45+ Virtual Summer Camps to Keep Kids Busy While Safely Social Distancing“, Jessica Sager. Parade, May 20, 2020.
“30 Cute Subscription Boxes for Kids That Deliver Fun to Your Door“, Marisa Lascala. Good Housekeeping, Feb 16, 2020.