Eight Fun Virtual Activities for Summer Camps

Camp, at its heart, is fun and brings so much joy to every camper who attends. Camp days fly by and lasting friendships are built through engaging activities that make us laugh, smile, and connect. If you’re hosting camp virtually this summer, you’re likely looking for creative activities that can be done at home but which still create these good feelings. 

One amazing resource for virtual camp is CAMP@HOME, a free online platform that camps can use to send fun activity videos to their campers. One of our favorite things about CAMP@HOME is that you can use the content provided and combine it with the activities that are unique to your camp. There’s no question that camp won’t be the same this summer, but it is still entirely possible to relay the magic even remotely. 

Here are eight fun virtual camp activities that you can customize to meet your needs. Some feature a little more time on screen while others encourage kids to get away from devices. You can create a free CAMP@HOME account here, to access their library of videos, and then mix things up with these fun additions to make a summer that while different, can still be unforgettable.

Activity #1: Sing-along

girl with guitar

Camp songs hold a special place in everyone’s hearts. There’s no question that hosting a sing-along online is hard. If multiple people are singing at the same time, and are not muted, the effect can be confusing and hard to listen to. The most successful approach that we’ve heard about is camps choosing a single song leader, and having all attendees stay muted. 

While these online campfire sing-alongs don’t have the same feeling, there are a few cool elements of a virtual experience. You can share lyrics and chords on a screen share, which can give campers something to follow along with, and even introduce them to new tunes. You can also choose fun camp photos or bonfire images as virtual backgrounds.

Another tip is to make sure you turn off your settings that filter out background noise. While this setting is great for meetings, it can make instruments hard to hear. By turning this setting off, guitars will ring clearly through speakers and headphones.

Activity #2: Talent show

boy blowing bubbles

Another suggestion we’ve seen from camps is to host talent shows. Share a form ahead of time and allow campers to sign up. Talents can be musical, telling jokes, showing off hidden talents, or displaying amazing crafts or projects. If you use a tool with a chat feature, you can also allow campers to sign up during the event itself. 

To spice things up, you can limit the amount of time that campers have to display their special skills. The two-minute talent show means the pace is fast and fun, and requires campers to perform at warp speed. 

One fun addition is to find volunteers to serve as the hosts for the show. Hosts can prepare creative and silly introductions for each performance, adding even more hilarity to your event.

Activity #3: Bunk meetings 

girl with a digital device

Campers develop extra special relationships with the people in their bunk, and this is without question of the hardest experiences to recreate virtually. Understanding that it won’t be the same, there are still ways to build this small group camaraderie.

Depending on the virtual environment you use, you can either set up smaller rooms within a larger meeting, or assign campers to a “bunk” and then have their counselors schedule a separate online get-together. 

After campers get introduced to each other, bunks can take on a variety of fun assignments. They can make up a name for their group, come up with an original jingle or cheer, or create a team of superheroes with custom names and powers. Counselors can share stories of their own camp experiences or do regular check-ins just to see how everyone is coping. 

Activity #4: Book club 

girl reading a book

Summer reading can be more than just what’s assigned for the upcoming school year. It can become a fun activity for virtual camp if you turn it into a book club. Choose a book specifically about summer camp, or a book for each age group on any subject. Audible has free audio books for kids, and there are a bunch of free book libraries online. You can also include parents and families if they want to read the books out loud together. Consider the age and reading ability of your campers and try to pick something accessible.

After you assign the book, set a date around the end of summer to host the conversation about it. You can either circulate questions ahead of time, or prepare a list of things to ask campers after they’ve completed the book.

One of the best things about your camp book club is that it can continue year round. You could suggest a different book a few times a year and convene video calls to discuss the plot, characters, ending, writing style, and more.

Movie night is a fun activity that many camps host, and one that is especially good for rainy days when outdoor events are a little more challenging. Doing movie night virtually is a fun and flexible way to keep campers entertained and then engage them afterwards.

Activity #5: Movie Night

movie clapboard

Movie night is a fun activity that many camps host, and one that is especially good for rainy days when outdoor events are a little more challenging. Doing movie night virtually is a fun and flexible way to keep campers entertained and then engage them afterwards.

First, pick your movie. It can be one about camp (we’ve got some great suggestions here), or can be one that’s a camp tradition. Give campers a certain amount of time in which to watch the movie. Ideally it’s one that’s available for free on one of the most popular streaming sites. You can also look into platforms such as Netflix Party and Scener, that allow for multiple people to watch a movie at the same time.

You can provide a list of questions and prompts ahead of time and share them with the viewers.

Some suggestions include:

  • What was your favorite scene?
  • Which character did you relate to most?
  • How realistic was the movie?
  • What would you have changed?
  • Did you like the ending?

Then, schedule a movie review meeting, where campers can get together and discuss their thoughts. At the end, each camper can give the movie a rating of 1-5 stars, and these ratings can be averaged for an official score. You can keep a list of the movies and their ratings as a resource for future summers.

Activity #6: Camp trivia

boy with finger on chin

Do you campers know when camp was founded? Can they tell you exactly how many cabins or tents there are? Do they know how large your camp’s physical area is? Or how many campers signed up the first year your camp was open?

Every camp has a history, classic tales from years past, and facts and figures. Camp trivia is a great way to engage campers in a summer away from camp.

While it’s fun to imagine a video call free-for-all, it can be complicated and distracting to know who to call on or to hear who said the answer first in that format. Instead, we suggest two options that are easier to execute.

You can lead a trivia game by rounds, where each round has a theme and a certain number of questions. The game host asks the questions for each round, and then shares the answers. Participants tally their scores and then those with the highest scores are crowned the victors. This does require the honor system, but hopefully your campers see that as part of the fun.

Another option is to create a free trivia questionnaire using Google Forms, and send the link around to all campers, giving them a deadline for completion. This might take a little more work to tabulate the answers and scores, but it does mean you’ll get better results. Then host a video call where you reveal the correct answers and announce which campers got the most questions right.

Activity #7: Camp recipe cook-along

girl holding eggs over eyes

Get campers cooking with this fun on- or off-screen activity. This can be as simple as circulating a recipe, asking campers to make your creation, and then having them submit photos of the final product.

Or you can take it up a notch and lead them through the recipe while doing it yourself. It’s important to make these recipes simple, and using easy-to-access and affordable ingredients. Sorry, no saffron risotto this time. You want to make sure that as many campers as possible can follow along, so try and limit the specialty cookware needed as well. 

The follow up is flexible. The activity can end with the campers trying things out on their own. They can take photos of their creation to post in a social media album. Or you can host a recipe review video call where campers can tell you exactly what they liked (or didn’t like) about the food creation.

Activity #8: Recreate a Painting Challenge

painting of a fox

Think of this as a selfie challenge plus a trip to a museum plus a dress-up game – all wrapped up in one fun activity. At whatever frequency you choose, select a painting that a camper might see in a museum. You can find free images to use on Unsplash. Send a photo of the painting to your campers, and have them attempt to recreate the image using only materials found around their house. They just need someone to snap a photo of their recreation, and then they can send it to you for the big reveal.

When choosing your paintings, consider the imagery and diversity of the artists. You can of course pick some classics, but also think about newer works by artists of various identities. Also make sure that you’re not putting your campers in the position to recreate imagery that could come across as culturally insensitive or appropriative. Educate your campers about blackface, and make sure that if there are people of color depicted, that white campers are recreating the scene, but not the skin color. To avoid this, paintings that feature anthropomorphized animals are a safe place to start.

Also, since your campers are spending more time alone or just with family, try and choose paintings with a limited number of people or animals depicted, so they can play the game while being safe. Finally, stay away from any graphic or violent paintings. Even with these important considerations, there are still tons of fun paintings to try and recreate.

Having Fun from Afar with Virtual Activities

For those camps not operating in person, there are many considerations and challenges to face. There are financial concerns, operational changes, and of course, the fear that campers will lose touch with your camp, their friends, and their counselors. While some of these will take time to overcome, maintaining the way campers feel about camp can be sustained with many approaches, including virtual camps.

Hopefully these eight ideas, along with the content available for free from CAMP@HOME, can help you deliver personalized and engaging activities that bring camp to kids, wherever they are. And after summer, these same activities can be used during the year to bridge the gap between sessions.