The COVID-19 pandemic has sent many things into flux, summer camps included. For families depending on summer camp to entertain their youngest members, it is now a scramble to come up with ideas to keep kids active and engaged through the warmer months, so long as camps stay closed.
If you are facing down long, hot days with no prospect of summer camp in sight, don’t panic. We are here with a few alternative ideas for keeping kids entertained.
According to a CNN report, some camps are still operating, but they have moved online. It may not be a compelling idea to parents who wanted to send their kids to camp to get away from screens. It could be, however, a great fit for other families that want their kids to have specialized learning opportunities, or just something to do, even if it involves devices.
One example of this highlighted in the article is the American Diabetes Association Imagine Camp, which comes complete with virtual cabins. Their goal is to help kids connect through a combination of online platforms and at-home activities that still bring the group together, such as scavenger hunts. There is also an opportunity for mailed activity kits for those who can’t or don’t want to connect online.
Virtual Arts and Heritage Tours
Yes, it is another screen-based activity, but virtual museum tours take kids out of their home in a sense. Google Arts and Culture partnered with thousands of museums around the world when COVID-19 lockdowns hit, letting art-inclined kids (and adults) explore curations from all over the globe.
If 2,500+ museums sounds like a daunting task for your kid to narrow down, Google created a top 10 list to get started. If they are left feeling inspired, check out #metkids, a Metropolitan Museum of Art site made just for kids. It features an interactive map, behind the scenes videos, fun facts, and a handful of projects. For kids who want even more craft ideas and coloring pages, the Crayola website has everything you need for hours of creativity.
Google’s Open Heritage collection is another must-see for kids who want to dive into the world’s treasures. They can spend the days exploring iconic sites, in full 3D, from caves and cliffs to sacred sites. For a view closer to home, kids can check in on national parks through this list of webcams, some of which are interactive.
Find a Pen Pal
Author: Natalia Deriabina.
Now is the time to embrace the lost art of the written letter. The odds are good that you know another family with kids who are sure to be bored over summer. Exchange addresses, stock up on envelopes and stamps, and set them loose. The joy of getting snail mail is sure to entertain your kids and, hopefully, they will keep up letter-writing as a way to make friends and stay connected over summer, all without screen time involved.
Get Outside and Play
Author: 4 PM production.
This may be tricky for parents of younger children who need to balance workloads and time for kids to explore, but making time to go outside at least once a day is good for everyone in the family. Parents are likely unable to match the sheer level of outdoor fun that summer camp offers. There is a lot to be said for taking the dog for a walk, going for a family bike ride (keeping distance from others), or gardening at home.
Take a Virtual Trip to Disney
No school, no summer camp, and for many kids, no long-awaited trips to amusement parks like Disney. While virtual theme park experiences will never match up to the real thing, exploring Disney’s global offerings is a fun way to fill at least one summer day. This site has a long list of virtual rides at Disney parks from Disney World’s classic Pirates of the Caribbean to Hyperspace Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
If you really want to create magic for your kids, consider choosing a genuine Disney foodie recipe from their blog, and make a family cooking date.
You can keep the theme going while adding in a bit of education, with the Disney and Khan Academy collaboration, Imagineering in a Box. This lets kids go behind the scene with Disney Imagineers, ultimately creating a theme park of their very own. Or, try the Adventures at Home series, which offers Disney-themed itineraries and activities to be enjoyed from the comfort of home.
Have a Virtual Party or Playdate
Let’s face it, many of our kids are going to be watching a lot of television. Why not make it social with a Netflix party? This feature lets groups connect and watch Netflix together, synchronizing video playback and adding a group chat feature. That summer family movie night with the grandparents can still happen, complete with conversation on the side.
Nearly any kind of playdate or party can still happen virtually, thanks to tech such as Zoom, Facetime, and Kids Messenger. Get your children and other kids together for virtual storytime, have a distant dance party, or play a board game over a video connection. Or, simply let them talk to family and friends, regaining some of that social connection lost through distancing and isolation—and giving yourself a brief break from being the main entertainment.