I'm Bringing My Kids' Favorite Camp Activities Home, Because They Deserve a Little Fun

This school year has been such a wild ride with classes being cancelled abruptly in March and no clear indication of when they'll resume again. As we get ready for summer vacation to start, it's hard to feel excited about being home when that's literally all that we have been doing for months now. I wish I could be doing our normal prep for summer vacation right now, which always included researching different camps with the kids, syncing up schedules with their friends, and delving into the different topics for the boys to explore over the summer. But with the pandemic rates continuing to rise in Texas where we live, my family is making the hard choice to sit out camps this year.

However, just because summer camps with friends is not a possibility, that doesn't mean that summer is cancelled. I know that my family is going to be in this social-distancing routine for the long haul, so I decided that we're going to bring all the summer camp fun home instead. The key is that I'm not trying to compete with my children's amazing memories of the years past. I'm going to instead work on making this summer exactly as unique as this entire situation has been, while exploring the summer camp activities they've always looked forward to.

Both my boys love swimming and we've done swim camps the past several years, which brings them so much joy. I really haven't ever missed not having my own swimming pool in our backyard — until this year. Since I knew we wouldn't be able to do swim camp, I did the next best thing. I ordered an above-the-ground inflatable pool for our backyard that's large enough to accommodate my whole family (and then some). Measuring in at 18 feet by 4 feet, it's been the best few hundred bucks I've spent this year, and the joy it's brought the kids has been immeasurable! Once June begins, I'll start them on a morning routine with drills and laps just like they would have at camp.

Another thing my kids love about summer camps is diving into fun topics they're really obsessed with. In the past, they've done themed camps like a Harry Potter wizard camp, a Roblox coding camp, and cooking camp. My 6-year-old is currently obsessed with becoming a scientist when he gets older, so for him, we're doing a Little Passports Science Junior camp in a box this year. The box will provide a few hours of daily activities for a week and is a great replacement for the camp we won't be able to join this year. I'm looking forward to a guided week of science-related activities — I'm sure I'll learn something, too!

The kids have always loved camping over the summer months, and though we likely will be staying home this year, I'm going to be putting together a wonderful backyard campsite every few weeks. It's super easy to set up your own little tent (or fort with comforters!) and roast marshmallows for a few hours. Even if we don't end up spending the entire night outdoors, the act of preparing and setting up the activity will do wonders for their spirits. Plus, we may even do a small fire pit and put up some Christmas lights for the ambiance.

Kids are pretty remarkable at doing hard things, and it's never been more evident to me than during this social-distancing period. By stretching my imagination a little, I know I can help make this summer memorable and fun for them even if we don't do any of the regular summer activities. It's important for my kids to enjoy their summer vacation. So, I'm trying to re-create some of their fondest memories of summer camps, it also helps me feel like I have some control of this crazy situation. It'll be a different summer, but I know we'll make the best of it.