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Exciting Summer Camp Activities for Your Childcare Program

The summer months are full of learning opportunities. Enrich your summer childcare program with these engaging and simple summer camp activities.

Exciting Summer Camp Activities for Your Childcare Program

Exciting Summer Camp Activities for Your Childcare Program

Summertime often means blue skies, sunshine, laughter, and fun. It can also mean a two- to three-month break for most children, leaving working families looking for educational and fun-filled programs like summer camp to keep their children busy.

Planning a summer camp for your program can be a great way to supplement your revenue while providing children with learning and fun. If you’re considering starting or planning your first summer camp, you might be wondering where to start. Read on to discover the benefits of summer camp, how to start one, and activities you can incorporate in your summer program. 

Camp counselors and children play tug-of-war with a rope in a grassy field. Source

What is summer camp?

Summer camp is a type of enrichment program where children can engage in fun and educational activities during school summer break. In the U.S., most summer camps start between May and June and end in August. The duration varies, depending on the program—from as short as one week to as long as eight weeks. Parents typically expect their children to have fun, learn new skills, make new friends, take risks, and become more independent. Summer camps come in various shapes and sizes. Common types include:

  • Day camp
  • Evening camp
  • Weekend camp
  • Field trip camp
  • Traditional co-ed camp
  • Girls or boys camp
  • Religious camp
  • Health camp
  • Scouting camp
  • Special needs camp

What group of children would you like to serve? What activities and skills would you like to focus on more? Your mission and goals will determine the type of camp you start.

Benefits of summer camp

Summer camp provides children with a safe and positive environment to learn new skills while under the supervision of caring adults. They can learn teamwork through group activities, like soccer, and leadership skills by following rules and participating in peer-leading opportunities. Every new experience comes with challenges, and summer camp is no different. During such challenges, children can learn resilience and problem-solving skills. Other essential skills children typically learn at summer camp include sportsmanship, decision-making, friendship-building, confidence, gratitude and appreciation, and independence.

Summer camp also provides working parents with peace of mind, knowing that their children are in a safe space learning essential skills while they’re at work. Parents often report that, after attending summer camp, their children are more responsible, caring, giving, and equipped to stand up for what is right. These qualities are all essential to becoming responsible citizens in the community. 

Another benefit of providing a summer camp is giving childcare providers the opportunity to equip young children with life skills they may not learn in an academic setting. For example, getting a typically introverted child to lead a team or boosting a child’s creativity with unique art activities can be life-changing. 

Starting a summer camp can also be a lucrative business. When properly managed, providers can enjoy high profit margins ranging from 25% to 40%.

How to start a summer camp

Starting a summer camp business requires careful preparation and planning. Here are some essential steps you’ll need to take to start a summer camp:

Plan your business

Start with outlining your vision, mission, and objectives. A good business plan helps you work through the critical elements of your business, like industry analysis, market analysis, organization and management, marketing, and financial projections. 

What type of camp will you run? Will it be a day camp, evening camp, or weekend camp? Will you focus on a specific activity like sports, adventure, or arts and crafts? Who are your competitors, and how can you offer more than the competition? Answering these questions will help you structure your summer camp. This is also the time to name your business and secure a domain if you haven’t already done so. 

Register your business

Determine the legal structure of your business—sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporate organization. Each type of business entity has pros and cons, so it’s essential to do your research to make the right decision.

Design a program

Design your camp curriculum for an engaging and enriching experience. What activities will the children engage in? Water play? Finger painting? Relay racing? Evaluate activity plans to ensure that they provide challenges and reinforce your camp’s mission. 

Starting a summer camp business can be overwhelming, so it makes sense to simplify your activity planning with a tool like brightwheel's lesson plan feature. This software allows you to create activity plans within minutes, make quick and easy edits, add specific milestones, share with families, and create reports. In addition, you can use the observations feature to track progress toward learning objectives and specific developmental milestones.

Find a camp location

Your location will depend on the type of camp you’re starting. For example, a sports camp will require more outdoor space than an arts and crafts camp. If you already provide child care at your facility, it may be the ideal spot for your summer camp. 

Acquire a business license

Operating without the proper license will attract penalties, fines, and legal trouble. Specific camp licensing requirements will vary from state to state and program type. Typically, your program will need to meet certain health, safety, and training requirements including first aid and CPR certifications for all staff.

Open a business bank account

If you don’t already have a business bank account for your childcare business, getting one is essential, as it helps you separate personal income from business income and makes tax filing and accounting easier. Be sure to compare the features and fees of each type of business account so you can choose what suits your needs. Alternatively, you could hire an accountant to advise you and handle your accounts.

Hire and train staff

You’ll need to hire qualified staff for your program. The type of summer camp you offer will determine some of the training and certifications your staff must have, which may include first aid, child abuse prevention, CPR, conflict resolution, and food safety and sanitation. It’s important that your staff receives training regularly to stay up to date with current policies and procedures. 

Summer camp ideas

Once your camp is up and running, you will want to keep the children engaged with various enriching summer camp activities. Here are a few to consider:

Scavenger hunt

A nature scavenger hunt is an enjoyable activity that gets the children physically active. First, list items from nature for the children to find around the camp, for example, a pinecone, log, branch, pink flower, bird’s nest, smooth rock, or butterfly. Alternatively, they can hunt for items of a specific color. The children can work as single scavengers or in groups. 

Relay race

Relay races help children develop movement and coordination skills. Each team member completes a portion of a race as fast as possible. Relay races come in many forms, such as a spoon and egg race, a three-legged race, a fake pony ride race, and a running race.

Talent show

A talent show allows campers to express themselves and showcase their skills and talents. Performing in front of an audience can help children overcome stage fright and the recognition and praise they get from peers and counselors can boost their confidence.

Leaf crafts

From picking up leaves to holding them in place while painting and coloring, leaf craft activities engage the finger and hand muscles, developing a child’s fine motor skills. These types of activities get children outside and spark creativity. Leaf craft ideas include leaf rubbing, leaf mosaic art, and leaf animals.

Rock painting

All you need for this activity are rocks and paint or paint markers. Have the children walk around the area looking for rocks of all shapes and sizes. They can paint faces, animals, objects, or any pattern they desire on the rocks. Rock painting develops fine motor skills, focus, and hand-eye coordination. It also promotes creativity. Children can gift the rocks to their families or keep them as souvenirs.

Ice pop activity

Ice pops are the perfect refreshing snack for a hot day at summer camp. The pouring, mixing, and stirring involved in making ice pops helps develop fine motor skills and early math skills like measuring. Involving children in snack or meal preparation can also promote the concept of nutrition and healthy eating habits. 

Start planning for your summer camp business

Starting a summer camp business can be a lucrative venture and provide enriching learning opportunities for children. When planning summer camp activities, incorporate games or projects that align with your children’s interests and developmental stages. A high-quality summer program has the potential to provide children with unforgettable memories for years to come.

Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at

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