DIY Summer Camp at Home

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Brother and sister lying in homemade tent in backyard.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, families are feeling the pinch of a cruel summer. School is out and remote learning is done for now, but the closure of most day and overnight camps means kids are going to be missing out on some of their usual summer fun.

But with a little time and creativity, parents and caregivers can give kids with type 1 diabetes (T1D) a taste of the summer camp experience at home.

Below are some ideas to help you create the spirit of summer camp while still practicing safe social distancing.

  • Get your kids to help you come up with a camp name. Your options are only as limited as your imagination!
  • Settle on official colors for your camp, then make camp swag. Summer camp wouldn’t be the same without camp shirts, beaded necklaces or bracelets. You can tie-dye white shirts in your selected colors or just find solid t-shirts and order them through an online retailer. Leave them plain or use permanent magic marker to write your camp name on them. Get some plastic pony beads and plastic or nylon cord to make your official summer camp spirit jewelry.
  • Go on a nature walk. Collect rocks or leaves and look for birds and other wildlife, then do some online research learn about what you saw when you get home. Before you venture outside, don’t forget to consult our summer “Beat the Heat” guide for safety tips.   
  • Have a scavenger hunt. You can do this outside or inside. You can come up with your own method, or simply use the letters of the alphabet (“Spot something that begins with the letter  A, then B, then C…”, etc.).
  • Host a field day. You can do this whether it’s sunny and you can go outside or it’s rainy and you’re stuck inside. Games can include old favorites like Simon Says or Red-Light/Green-Light, or you can incorporate virtual field day events such as the Towel Flip Challenge, the Water Bottle Trap Challenge, or the Penguin Race. If you have the outdoor space and time for clean-up, consider adding in a water balloon fight.
  • Have Alexa? Play one of these kid-friendly games.
  • Hold a JDRF virtual fundraiser. Make it a camp project to do some good while having fun. For inspiration, consult our virtual fundraising resources.
  • Inspire budding sculptors with air-dry clay. You can make your own or buy some that is already made.  
  • Have a camp mess-hall-worthy picnic with your favorite summer fare. Burgers and dogs (regular or veggie) are just about always popular, as are chips and fresh summer fruit like blueberries, strawberries, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melon. You could even try out a lower carb s’more treat recipe. As always, no matter what you land on for your camp feast, be sure to keep track of carb counts and blood glucose levels.  
  • Host a backyard or living room camp out. Cozy up with sleeping bags, flashlights or headlamps, and age-appropriate stories about things that go bump in the night. Scholastic has some recommendations or you can find numerous other recommendations online. Scary stories not your thing? Try a camp-themed family movie night with “The Parent Trap” (either the 1961 or 1998 version), “Camp Rock”, “Camp Rock 2”, or “Race for Your Life Charlie Brown.” Note: Parents should review the content of any media first to make sure they are comfortable sharing it with their children.