DIY Summer Camp At Home

Would your tween/teen want to hang out with their friends/cousins for an entire week? And, would you love for them to be happily occupied with minimal effort and expense from yourself? If so, READ ON!

Every summer my nieces come to Austin for “Camp Hall.” When they were younger I would take them to some sort of camp during the day and then swim or hang out in the afternoon. Last summer I realized that that these five cousins were at ages (5, 9, 12, 12, & 14) that leant towards a different level of responsibility, creativity and freedom.

They were all able to make their own lunch and choose their own snacks. They were able to search Pinterest for a cool idea. They had some amazing talents and interests and were completely able to set up, teach and clean up an activity. So, we did a DIY camp whereby each day a different cousin designed and led an activity.

Here’s how you could do it, too!

STEP 1: Find 4-5 friends (or cousins) who all have the same week free.

STEP 2: Logistics, Planning & Safety

  • Which day will each child lead and host at his or her home?

    These cousies did their activities in the morning and then swam in the afternoon.
  • What are the drop off/pick up times?
  • Will the Camp Leader of the Day teach in the morning with free play/hang out in the afternoon or vice versa or is the camp mornings only?
  • Will there be a daily budget?
  • Any allergies? This is important if you are providing snacks.

STEP 3: The children choose their activity.

The “Camp Leader of the Day” will:

  • My niece inspired the group to decorate pots with Sharpies on her day as Camp Leader.

    Choose an activity/craft/experience that the entire group can do.

  • Provide the materials for the activity.
  • OPTION: provide or make snacks. Campers can pack their own lunch and bring water.

Activity Suggestions

The campers might choose to be thematic and do activities that build on each other’s activities day after day. For example, my daughter and her friends have visions of filming their baking experiences, editing the video and then posting it on You Tube.

Or, the group might have an entrepreneurial idea. Venture Lab has free online classes that can help them organize and action their idea.

Or, maybe each day will be different per the Camp Leader of the Day’s choice. You can encourage your child to choose an activity that s/he:

  • Would like to make/create. 
My 5-year-old son guided the group as they made journals as a gift for their dads for Father’s Day.


Cool results!











  • Has talent in teaching. Can your child juggle? Can they do amazing calligraphy? Know how to use a fancy camera?
My niece is an incredible baker. She lead the group to make an exceptional dessert.


  • Has interest in learning. They can learn how to do a million different things from art to photography to how to create a You Tube channel via Skillshare, Udemy or, of course, Pinterest.
We took them to the Zilker Park Botanical Garden Fairy Garden display.
With inspiration from the Botanical Gardens, my daughter guided them as they made their own fairy gardens.











  • Would just like to do or experience. Practice daily yoga and meditation? Running camp? Sports theme? Obstacle course challenges? Once again, there are loads of instructional videos online that can inspire them to watch and then do.

STEP 4: Let the kids take the lead.

This is might be hard for those of us who are used to organizing our children’s daily activities or guiding our children through Pinterestable crafts and daily activities. This also might be unusual for kids that are used to going to multiple organized camps and being told what to do or elect to combat boredom with the ever-present phone scrolling, texting and posting.

Now they get the empowering opportunity of being the guide. The leader. The organizer.

Teaching and creating are confidence boosters at any age. On the contrary, if you do things for your children that they are capable of doing or learning how to do, it takes away their power and confidence. Therefore, help with the logistics, but let them lead with the creativity, organization, presentation, budget and pleasantries. Encourage them to greet the “campers” at the door and see them out to the door at the end of the day.

Switch the responsibility between you and your child. Ask them if they need help, but try not to help too much.

Bite your tongue as flour gets all over the floor. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SET UP AND CLEAN UP. One of my often-used comments to my kids is: “It’s okay to make messes as long as you can clean them up.”

The bonus of the whole thing is that you host ONE day, but your child is entertained, engaged and possibly learning for the WHOLE WEEK! WIN-WIN! 

Tag the parents of your child’s friends and make it happen! Or, let your teen/tweens organize it!

Dr. Allison Hall, PT, MPT, DPT is part of tight knit party of five plus two rescue dogs. All three of her children were born in London, England during her family’s great decade abroad. She and her husband both grew up in Texas and returned in 2013 after purchasing a home after seeing it only via webcam. She finds joy in walking in nature, traveling almost anywhere, learning new things, pondering life intensely, caring for others deeply and doing anything that makes for a good laugh with family and friends. She is a pediatric physical therapist and the CEO/Founder of My Kid Blooms (, a digital resource for parents to find pediatric/OBGYN health-related information and professionals that match the needs of their families.


  1. Loved your summer camping ideas. I never thought camping can be done at home too. My 4 year old will surly love it so do I because its very much safe. Apart from the ideas you have mentioned here, there are also some other like Trivia Night or Truth or Dare game.


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