For three summers in a row we hosted a at-home family camp for our children and their friends. It took a lot of hard work and planning, but was oh so worth it in the end. Here are our best ideas for how to host a DIY Family Camp, gleaned from the ideas that did and didn’t work!
1. Enlist a few close friends. Get together for coffee and discuss what you’d like to accomplish, what your goals are (ours were simply to “have fun” and “create memories” with our children)
2. Decide where the camp will be held. All three years that we hosted the DIY Family Camp, it was at our home. We have five partially wooded acres with a large fire pit. It was perfect for hosting the event.
3. Pick a theme. Our theme each year was simply: Summer Camp. Most of our kids had never gone to camp, so we wanted to recreate that at home. Each year we made camp T-shirts. The first year we did Tie-dye which the kids loved, but with 30 kids, it was labor intensive and very time-consuming. The next two years we bought plain colored T-shirts. A few of us moms bought supplies and screen printed the shirts with Solid Rock Camp and the year. During the first day of camp the kids got to personalize their shirts.
4. Decide who you will invite. We made it clear that at least one parent needed to come from each family. We knew we would need the help with crafts, food and supervision. Each year we have between 30-40 kids.
5. Decide on a budget. We “charged” $13-18 per child each year, depending on our plans. This cost covered: food, arts and crafts and camp T-shirts.
6. Come up with a schedule and activities. We printed and posted our schedules and menus throughout the “camp”. The kids loved know what activities were coming up. We included time for “clean-up”. We set up a dish line and each child washed their own tray after meals. When they turned in their clean tray they were given a ticket which they could use to buy snacks at the Snack Shack later in the day. Each family brought one healthy and one sweet snack to contribute.
7. Plan and prep your meals. Here are some actual menus from our years of DIY Family Camp.
Sack lunches (sandwich, fruit, juice box, string cheese, cookies)
Dinner: hot dogs, watermelon, potato salad, baked beans…then s’mores around the campfire!
Breakfast- breakfast burritos (five dozen eggs, three pounds of sausage, cheese and tortillas. We made these ahead and assembled about fifty burritos in about half an hour), applesauce and hot chocolate.
Lunch- sandwich bar (bagels w/ cream cheese, chocolate cream cheese, curried chicken salad wraps, peanut butter and jelly) fruit and chips.
Dinner- chalupa with all the fixings, rice, tortilla chips and popsicles
8. Create teams. Each year we divided the kids into 4-6 “teams”. These teams came up with a team name, cheer and decorated posters (a cheap but fun activity for the groups).
Our crafts varied each year, but included: leather working, rubber band guns, knot-tying, clay, bead work. We also included a nature walk, a nature scavenger hunt, and group games such as building pyramids, tug-o-war and a huge water balloon fight!
One favorite activity all three years was to give each team an “Invention Box” filled with odds and ends we had collected. Each team had 30 minutes to “invent” something and then explain to the group what it was and how it worked. The inventions were voted on and points were given for the best ones.
Our three years of DIY Family Camp remain some of my children’s favorite memories!