Friday, July 13, 2012

Passport To Summer Fun: DIY summer camp ideas

Last summer, some friends and I had standing playdates to do a sort of DIY Summer Camp, trying to knock as many activities around our city as we could off the bucket list below. However, we did it with a twist, inspired by the Nova Scotia Museum passports I remembered from my childhood - we got small inexpensive journals for each child, and every activity got a page or two of the book, with ticket stubs or other memorabilia and a printed photo from the event and a written date. If we had an opportunity to do something separately as a family, that went into the Summer Fun Passport too. We called it a scavenger hunt, but there was no prize for who completed the most tasks off the list, just the fun of seeing how full the passports were by the end of the summer.

I kept a kit with the passport notebooks, a pen and a gluestick, the bucket list of ideas, and a book journaling notepad in a large ziplock bag in my summer go bag all summer long. As we did stuff, I'd put ticket stubs or other mementoes into the bag and snap some photos, and once every couple of weeks I'd print out photos and glue things into the passport. We'll do a similar kit for the go-bag this summer, with the printables I mention below, an actual date stamp, and our updated bucket list.

* = indoor activity for rainy days or once the weather turns cold

playground playdates - a stamp for each new playground you try
electric tram from Whyte Ave to Downtown

*Royal Alberta Museum bug room

*Art Gallery of Alberta
Edmonton Zoo visit including pony ride

Fort Edmonton Park visit including train ride
John Jantzen Nature Centre (has both outdoor activities and indoor ones)

*Muttart Conservatory
*a movie in the theatre
Edmonton Fringe Festival play
*West Edmonton Mall aquarium and wave pool
*Terwillegar Rec Centre
*Airplane Museum
road trip: Calgary Zoo
road trip: train museum
road trip: machine museum in Wetaskiwin
Devonian Botanic Garden butterflies and Japanese Garden giant bell
road trip: Elk Island National Park and Ukrainian Village
road trip: Jasper National Park
*kitchen chemistry day: volcanoes, bottle rockets, and making slime
*math and spelling fun day
building a cardboard space ship or club house
*reading three books borrowed from Edmonton Public Library
*chef school day
berry picking and corn maze
decorate bikes then go for bike ride and picnic
*yarn craft day: learning to crochet / knit / braid / weave / make tassels
make stepping stones
mystery day (using your sleuthing kits)
composting and gardening day
painting self portraits
*music making day (with homemade instruments)
*puppet making and puppet show
hula hooping camp
take a hike in the River Valley
*Tour de Value Village
*Telus World of Science

This summer, to encourage unstructured outdoor play in front of our house so we meet our new neighbors and make friends, do some community building on a street where some houses are newly built, and spend some time exploring the natural world at our doorstep in the Whitemud Creek ravine, we're adding these activities to our list. (For more ideas along these lines, check out the fantastic blog and new book from Playborhood.)

bike ride (a new stamp for each path explored)
nature explorer (a new stamp for each path hiked and each new animal sighted)
skipping games (to be played on the sidewalk in front of our house)
sidewalk chalk art creation
sprinkler day (set up sprinkler, small water pistols, spray bottles, bucket of ice in front yard)
lemonade stand
made a new friend (a new stamp for each playdate)
block party
gardening (our front yard is a blank slate so the kids will get a stamp for a garden centre trip followed by helping me plant some perennials and containers)
exterior decorator certification (painting our front porch and setting it up with seating for resting and snacking, and a couple of summer activity buckets full of outdoor play toys, water toys, sidewalk chalk - I have a good idea how this will look but the kids will get to provide lots of input so it's an area where they want to hang out)

We're also travelling to Nova Scotia for three weeks, so we'll also add stamps for

trip to the beach
trip to a museum
visit to a historic site
going for a hike
lessons from the kids' cousin who teaches swimming
day at the cottage

Here are some more posts to give you ideas for your own DIY summer camp or passport project:
What's on your bucket list this summer?

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