Your little one can enjoy a sporty day at camp.

Activities Done at Children's Summer Camps

by Erica Loop

With more than 12,000 summer camps in the U.S., it's no surprise that there's virtually a rainbow of different activities available for your little learner. If this summer is your preschooler's first foray into the wonderful-world of camp you may wonder what different opportunities are available. While it's unlikely that a 4-year-old will get the chance to try out some of the more advanced camp options such as archery, there's still plenty to keep her day busy.

1. Arts and Crafts

If you have fond memories of making those colorful plastic lanyards at summer camp, you're probably not alone. Arts and crafts is a long-standing staple of these programs. Whether your little one is going to a general, play-based, camp or an art-themed option (such as a museum or art center camp), she's sure to make her fair share of arts and crafts. Younger campers, in preschool and under, will typically make a range of projects during the camp hours. These age-appropriate crafts typically favor a more simplistic process-based approach and may include finger painting, brush painting, coloring with markers and crayons, cut or torn paper collage or clay play.

2. Sports

Your preschooler doesn't have to go to 'soccer camp' to get a healthy dose of physical activity in during the summer day. While sports-focused camps provide structured athletic play (or a least as structured as you can get with a 4- or 5-year-old), other more general summer programs also often include these types of activities. Summer camp sports for young children may include games such as soccer, t-ball or basketball with a pint-sized hoop. Given that the preschool-set doesn't have the same physical prowess as older kids do, sports basics also typically become part of the summer camp day. This means that in lieu of an actual competitive game, your child might spend time simply tossing a soft ball back and forth with another camper, running races or kicking a bouncy rubber ball.

3. Games

What's the main goal of summer camp for your preschooler? If you answered "having fun", then you are on the right track. Activities that treat little learners to fun-filled games during the camp day may include physical or sit-down/quiet-time games. The physical game category covers activities such as hopscotch, follow the leader, duck duck goose and other similar options that require your child to get up and get moving. While getting your child's energy out is a necessary part of the camp day, sometimes there is a need for quiet-time pursuits. These activities, such as board or card games, also help to keep kids busy during those rainy summer afternoons.

4. Learning

Summer fun isn't always equal to free play and running wild outside. Many camps have specific themed or focuses that lend themselves to learning. Even young children can get a dose of education during the summer at specialized programs. For example, museum-based summer art camps provide preschoolers with the opportunity to learn about famous artists and see real-life works of art that they won't getting the chance to otherwise. Don't let the idea of learning during the summer scare off you (or your child). Most learning-based camps understand preschooler's needs and development enough to make the educational aspect equally as entertaining.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Kane Skennar/Digital Vision/Getty Images