Photo: Storyblocks

Did you attend summer camp as a kid? These experiences come with memories that last a lifetime—and you probably want your children to enjoy their summers in the same way. But with COVID-19, traditional summer camps may have been put on hold for the most part.

Fortunately, you can still find ways to send your kids to camp with these five ideas.

1. Set Up Activities at Home
If you’re busy with work and other responsibilities, you may not have time to put on a successful home summer camp. However, with a few other parents in your arsenal, you can create a memorable experience for your kids. It’ll take some creativity, but you won’t have to spend as much money as a traditional summer camp costs.

Set aside a few weeks for your planned activities. Then, you’ll want to delegate a specific activity to each parent. For example, you’ll run arts and crafts during week one, while other parent takes over during week two to teach soccer. This way, you can share the load.

Some additional ideas for summer camp activities include:

  • Show and tell
  • Talent show
  • Arts and crafts
  • Sports like swimming, hiking, and flag football
  • Camping
  • Scavenger hunt

Don’t forget to ask the kids what they’d like to do, too. It’s smart to have a variety of activities, but you also want to ensure the participants enjoy them. Additionally, you may want to include a few teaching moments in your activities so they’re both educational and fun.

2. Consider an Online Program
COVID-19 has forced many in-person events to move online. That’s even true for summer camps. If you don’t have the spare time to make your own experience at home, you could look into virtual ones instead.

Keep in mind that summer camp doesn’t always involve sleeping in a cabin and exploring the great outdoors. There’s a summer camp for everyone, whether your children are interested in a science-based program or want to learn about music. As a result, you can find numerous online programs that appeal to everyone.

Though you may need to supervise a bit at first, your kids’ programs will be lead by experienced counselors. There are endless benefits to online learning experiences, so you won’t have to worry about whether the experience will be a smart idea. Aside from a few learning curves, your kids should have a great time.

3. Look into Local Organizations
There’s no need to send your kids miles away to attend summer camp. Almost every community has local organizations that offer day camps, where the children spend the day at a particular location. These day camps usually provide opportunities for every age.

Look to your local recreation center for information about possible day camps in your area. If you have kids in various age groups, you can see whether options exist for each one. Typically, day camps involve traditional summer camp activities. However, you may be able to find choices for certain interests, like math or theater.

Keep in mind that day camps often follow similar hours to school. Therefore, you’ll probably have to drop your kids off before work and pick them up when you’re finished. Those who work late nights may want to arrange a carpool.

4. Visit a National Park
While summer camp can take many forms, you may want to give your kids a classic experience where you venture into the wilderness. Maybe you envision camping, kayaking and other moments in nature. A national park can be the perfect place to do just that.

These destinations are packed with beauty and history. From mountains to lakes to wildlife, you can expose your children to experiences they won’t find anywhere else. Whether you want to spend a weekend or a week in the area, you’ll be able to do summer camp on your own terms.

If you don’t live near a place like Yosemite or Acadia, you can still explore state parks and forests for similar experiences.

RELATED: The Best National Parks to Visit with Kids (& the Airbnbs to Book When You Do)

5. Check Out Local Libraries & Universities
Did you know that libraries offer summer camps? These programs aren’t traditional by any means, but they can be an excellent way for your kids to be involved in something. Usually, libraries offer reading challenges, where your children have to read certain books and do related activities throughout the summer.

If your town or city has a nearby university, you can check there for summer camps, as well. The summer camps offered at colleges are often for older kids in middle school and high school, so your younger children might not be able to attend. Plus, summer camps at universities can be a bit pricey. Be sure to double-check the fees before you sign up.

There’s nothing like summer camp, but right now, you may have to compromise. Thankfully, you can still give your kids a fun summer. Whether you want to host your own summer camp or visit a national park, you can put your own spin on the summer camp experience.