Backyard Summer Camp, Part 2: On the Lookout and After Dark

Ready to organize a backyard summer camp for your kids? This blog features scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, and after-dark activities. Check out Part 1 for daytime activities and art projects; Part 3, for ways to prevent brain drain.

Each category has three levels: “Simple” activities are mostly free, easy, and great for younger kids. “Medium” activities work for older kids and may require a small budget and some pre-planning. “Complex” activities require more planning and a little more expense. You can ramp up any idea or scale it back to fit your situation.  Remember, the point is to HAVE FUN!

ON THE LOOKOUT

Simple

There are lots of opportunities for Scavenger Hunts. You can devise your own list of natural objects likely to be found in your yard or create a hunt using suggestions from websites. Themed scavenger hunt offers ideas, like finding a spiral-shaped or rough object, in addition to things like an oak leaf or spiderweb. Try Good Housekeeping’s 22 Fun Scavenger Hunt Ideas for indoor or outdoor adventures.         

Supplies: printed list

Medium

Nature Walk Bingo focuses on spring and provides four unique and colorful bingo cards. Nature Bingo and Scavenger Hunts offers playing suggestions. Outdoor Nature Bingo recommends great ideas for making and marking bingo cards, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry provides a cool bingo card, as does Nature’s Outdoor Bingo.            

Supplies: downloadable and homemade bingo card(s), bingo chips or markers

Complex

Burying a treasure in your backyard and creating a map with steps and directions to follow will be as challenging to pull off as it will be fun to hunt for treasure. The Treasure Map can help you get started. Pirate Treasure Hunt Map of Your Yard and 11 Tips for Creating an Awesome Treasure Hunt offer indispensable suggestions.           

Supplies: determined by hunt

After Dark

Simple

This activity is simple to do, but not so simple to do well. Get a blanket and stare up at the night sky. Here’s A Kid’s Guide to Stargazing from the American Museum of Natural History that includes a link to what’s in your night sky tonight. Your kids will be professional stargazers in no time.

Supplies: clear night sky and blanket or lawn chairs

Medium

Apply regular ring toss rules to this Glow-in-the-Dark Ring Toss version of the game. You’ll need to buy glow sticks, which lots of stores carry. Decide what glow products you need and make your purchase. Read the glow stick safety info. A glow stick or two dropped in plastic bottles can serve as stakes, or you can make something more elaborate. When it’s sufficiently dark, activate the glow sticks and give each player a separate color. The only thing left to do now is have fun!   

Supplies: glow sticks, ring-toss targets

Complex

Summer camps need a fitting closing, and if you can swing it, nothing signs off like a campfire. After you’re sure your spot is safe and you’ve checked that it’s okay with your municipal government, you’re ready to plan the night. Although you’re making a campfire, this How to Make a Bonfire video has great tips and many safety precautions that must not be overlooked. For more fun, include details, like toasting marshmallows or making s’mores, playing flashlight tag or enjoying sparklers, singing campfire songs or telling scary stories, playing charades or any of these great campfire games.

Supplies: fire pit or other safe space, firewood, sticks, marshmallows, etc.



Your kids do not have to play catch up!

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Post Author: Diane

Diane D has been researching and writing for Simple Solutions since retiring from her teaching position at the Nordonia schools. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. Diane, who is fluent in Italian, travels a lot, bikes every opportunity she gets, rock climbs, skis, and has recently joined a rowing team.

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