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50 Summer Camp Themes


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This post has been beefed up to 100 Summer Camp Themes and moved to my new site SummerCampProgramDirector.com.

40 Comments

  1. Can’t forget the surf camp! :-)

  2. #48 Surf Camp…that one was for you Eric.

  3. I was just thinking about what kind of themes we should have at camp this summer. You have a great list, though a few of them are kind of repeats. So I’m not sure you can call it 50 themes. Just giving you a hard time. Thanks for the ideas. Please keep ‘em coming.

  4. Comment:
    just as a suggestion, because this is what we do for our teen camps, is that we put the theme with a good character value that we want to teach for that week. here are some of our themes:

    Respect: All Around the World
    Aptitude: Olympic Week
    Honesty: True Blue
    Friendship: Wild and Crazy
    Responsibility: The Great Outdoors
    Caring: Be A Hero (Superheroes Week)
    Leadership: Take Me To Your Leader (Alien Week)
    Insight: Mission Impossible
    Spirit: Spirit Week
    Courage: The Amazing Race
    Integrity: It’s a Jungle Out There!

  5. I think that is a great idea Mary. I’m guessing you work for YMCA. I can see the main traits in there. It’s a great suggestion. Thank you.

  6. A great idea for a camp theme would be something like icamp after ipod or iphone. That is what my camp is doing this year.

  7. I am programming an 11 week summer camp program this summer from 6am-6:30pm and our theme is Wild Bout’ Summer Camp. My thoughts were to incorporate a wilderness, survior theme for the summer however I need assistance to come up with weekly themes within my overall theme. Does anyone have any fun ideas????

  8. Hi Jessica,
    First thing – have you been to my summer camp website? This question would be better served over there.
    As for Survivor themes here are some suggestions. Each week can be an Out(whatever). For example, Outlast week could be full of games where teams or players have to “outlast” there opponents. Simon Says is a perfect example. Outwit week can be full of puzzles and riddles as challenges. Others might include outplay, outlaugh, outcraft, Outback (Australia), outbuild, outclimb, outburst, outcook, outdesign, outdazzle, outride, outdodge, outperform, outswim, etc. These would also make good theme days.

    Don’t want to go that route? That’s cool. Here are some other theme ideas; Animals, Mother Nature, Native Americans, Wild West, Critters, and Water Week.

  9. Can you please give me some ideas on an either Indian or NAtive American Themed Summer camp. I want to have one but I have no Idea on what I should do during it. Thanks

  10. Hi Becca, I want to refer you to a really good article about Native American programming that is on the ACA website. Click here to view the page.

    To add onto the article I always like to end campfires with a Native American story. you can find books with Native American stories at your local library, at Amazon or at the ACA bookstore. Making Dreamcatchers is a great craft and you can talk about the history of them.

    Also, read some of the comments left on my Summer Camp blog under the Wild West post and the 100 Summer Camp Themes post.

  11. Hi, im doing a summer camp in my home this summer. All i need is themes for the 11 weeks of summer that these children will be there.. For example, a Beach week. Where the children come in their beach outfits, play beach games & that week is about the beach. Any more suggestions for themes?

  12. Hi Arianna, have you checked out my summer camp blog at SummerCampProgramDirector.com? I think you’ll find what you’re looking for there.

  13. hi guys i am planning a camp for preschoolers so its a little harder for me to come up with some themes for camp. i have 2 age group of kids.. k’ton ton which are 2 year olds and yeladim which are 3,4, and a few 5 year olds. i need to think of an overall theme for the summer and then smaller themes for each week.. we have 2 sessions of camnp and each is 4 weeks long. i work at a jewish community center but the themes can be anything. some of the ones i thought of was a winter in july, a holiday week, some kind of sports themed week, we’ve done under the sea, the beach and the circus so many times i wanted to see if there were other ways of doing them. thanks for any and all suggestions :)

  14. @danielle – Did you see my 100 Summer Camp Themes post on my other site? That should give you plenty of ideas. I’m working on another 100 themes which should be ready soon. I’ll post that over on my other site as well.

  15. To danielle w.:
    I also run a Jewish day camp for preschoolers. I’m trying to come up with new themes as well. Here’s what we’ve done in the past:
    Zoo week also called: animal safari or jungle or rainforest adventure (we get a petting zoo that week)
    Circus and Ocean/beach week (also getting tired of those two)
    I did one week called Up,up, and Away- things related to the sky, airplanes, sun, moon and stars, kites, bubbles, (we took the oldest group to a small airport)
    Nature/insects/ plating week
    The music week I called – Let’s make some noise. Made homemade instruments, invited people who played instruments into the camp, made a marching band parade around the building (went well with 4th of July week)
    Western week could be Camping in the wild west- make smores, hot dog lunch cookout, and build a tent, tell stories with a flashlight in addition to the western stuff (pony rides).
    I saw an idea at another camp where they did a week of different hats- each day they made/wore a different kind of hat and did activities related to it (ex: chef’s hat- made pizza, mexican hat- maracas and a pinata, clown hat- facepaint)
    Really your overall theme could be hats and focus in on one a week.
    Let me know if you think of anything more!

  16. @M.T. – Thanks for the comment and ideas. I love when readers, like you, that have great ideas, share what they do. Thank you, again.

  17. @ Curt – thanks for all the great ideas. I was stuck when they decided to extend my summer camp for an extra 3 weeks this summer.

    One theme my campers loved is “At Of The Box”…we get tons of boxes and I mean tons donated by the local appliance store and other businesses. The kids design so many different things and come up with such awesome ideas with the boxes. The older campers built a city out of boxes that the younger campers toured. They made vehicles that they enjoyed on a rainy day when we couldn’t get outside. My staff even took the theme out of the box by including various lessons on ways of using items in different ways and by just teaching the campers to think out of the norm.

  18. Great idea, Mr. Marc. Did you have a hard time getting boxes donated?

  19. Out of the Box…. excellent idea!!My kids are going to love it.
    here at camp, we tried to name some old things, with a new “twist”
    Instead of
    slash week-Splash a pooloza
    Spirit week-Twist & Shout
    instead of having a Carnival for the last week, we had an “Un Birthday ” party, with old party games.
    Great ideas on this site!!
    Thanks for sharing all!

  20. I run an 11 week summer program each summer and one of my favorite themes is Iron Chef Christ Academy (the name of the school). We had so much fun with it!

  21. Hi Emily,

    I’m constantly surprised at how many summer programs have an Iron Chef week. They all rave about it. It’s a theme I haven’t done personally due to our facilities, but it sounds like a lot of fun.

  22. I was looking for a Native American Themed Camp for My Daughter. She’s 10 years old and really interested in how they live. She said she wanted to experience their life style for the summer if they had a camp in North Carolina. Do you know any or have any suggestions?

  23. Hi Mackenzie, I don’t know of any camps that provide a Native American experience. A number of sumemr camps will integrate things like Native American stories during campfire, tomahawk throwing taught by Native Americans and/or sleeping in TeePees for the week. You may want to contact the American Camp Association or the Girl Scouts for recommendations in your area if there are any. Camp Ohio offers a living history program geared towards Native American studies. I don’t know anything about there programs but you can check them out at http://4hcampohio.osu.edu/experience-it/campers.

  24. Great Ideas you all! I run a personal development camp for teens. The last was themed I Dare to be an Original. We talked about things like peer pressure, financial intelligence, skill acquisition etc. Any idea on themes and contents for my next edition from anyone please? I also wish to include more fun and practical stuffs. Thanks for these medium.

  25. Our Non-School Day Camp will be visiting a pumpkin patch in october on the first MEA day. I am looking for a cool theme name. Do you have any suggestions.

  26. What is MEA and what is the name for (a camp in October, an event, etc.)?

  27. MEA = Minnesota Education Association. It’s when the teachers get together for a conference. I run a Day Camp for Kindergarten -5th graders on the days there is no school. Each day gets a theme that works with the field trip for that day. Such as, if the field trip is to Sky Zone the theme is Up, Up and Away. So, I’m debaiting on The Great Outdoors, Wonders of Nature or Hunters and Gatherers for the Pumpkin patch field trip.

  28. Hi this will be my first year to run a 4 week summer camp at a Christian based preschool. The age range of our campers is big we have all the preschoolers 2-6 year old but then many former students also come back for the camp they are 2nd through 5th grade help! Any theme ideas will be appreciated

  29. I had a quick question I wanted to pick everyone’s brain with. I am running an Outdoor Summer Camp Program= no inside play whatsoever.. If I want to have a Water Themed week, what would you suggest to do for different events for the sites. I am able to find a lot of great “water activities” but didn’t know if anyone had any suggestions to events, special guests, etc. Thanks for your help!

  30. Charlene, have you checked my 100 Summer Camp Themes post on my summer camp blog? There’s another post on there entitled 100 More Summer Camp Themes.

  31. Katie, why type of facilities do you have? Is there a hill for a slip and slide? Do you have a pool? Here are some other ideas:

    • water balloon toss
    • hang water balloons up on a rope and let campers swing at them blindfolded like a pinata
    • have a rubber duckie or do-it-yourself boat race down a creek
    • Get helmets with buckets on the top and have teammates toss water balloons in the bucket from a distance
    • have teams build pirate ships from empty boxes and have the teams try to “sink” the ship using water balloons or guns
    • have a counelor stick his/her face through a hole ina plywood sheet and have campers shoot water at them (we could never afford a dunk tank)
  32. Thanks for the great tips! I plan on having my counselors use them all! This is a playground program that is located outside for the entire day with minimal amenities. It is treated as a drop in style program where kids can come and go as they please. I’m also stuck with a military theme: currently I have boot camp style relay races, learning cadences, local military members as guest speakers, and a tug-o-war challenge…any other helping hints?!? You’ve been a life saver!! :)

  33. You’re welcome, Katie. So, a military theme? Out of all the possible themes you could have gone with, 200 options on my summer camp site, and you went with a military theme? That’s a tough one because you don’t want to do activities that promote violence (I think fantasy violence, like slaying a dragon to save the princess, is different), you don’t want to remind any campers of possible family they may have lost in combat over the past few years, and it’s difficult to come up with enjoyable activities. That being said, the only thing I can think of is teaching kids the military alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta…), morse code, and having an obstacle course. Good luck with this one.

  34. Curt- I completely understand the concerns you laid out. Our program has done this them a couple of years ago before I was part of the department and said the kids had a great time with it. I’m really just trying to think outside the box with it. Having a military theme for us is Celebrating the military for the bravery, courage, and integrity they hold. We like to bring in military guest speakers to talk to the kids about the positions they hold to help kids have a deeper connection with the men and women in uniform (just like with your emergency services theme) thanks again for your help!

  35. Katie, I have few ideas for a military theme:
    I agree with Curt about teaching the military alphabet. Also how about serving up some MRE’s (Military ready to eat meals). Students could dress up in military uniform. see if you can find a pair of military boots and teach them how to shine them. Maye a boot shine relay game would be fun.Soldiers take pride in their appearance. Also each branch of the military has their own theme song, students could learn the tunes and lyrics to each. You could start and end each day with a flag ceremony. Each student could make their own dog tags as a souvenier. check and see if there are any retiree’s or an American Legion in your area and have special guests come speak, possibly in uniform and explain the diferent medals and badges. possible teach navigation by using maps and compasses. Think camouflage, and play hide-n-seek. These are just a few ideas hope it helps.

  36. Katie,
    For water theme week, you can see if your local fire department will come by and spary the kids with the hose. Ours does and they love it. Plus they get to sit in the truck, meet the firefighters, etc.

  37. Thanks a lot for your materials. they are really valuable!!! i try to use some of your ideas in Russian children.

  38. You’re welcome. Thank you for the comment, Masha.

  39. I would like to see your 100 Summer Camp Themes list, but every time I click on the link, it says the site is under construction. Is there anyway you send me the list in a document? Thanks for the cool discussion!

  40. Hi Joe, the site is up and running again. I don’t have the post in a document form. Sorry.

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