A young boy wearing a ball cap smiles for the camera as he enjoys outdoor fun at an Ottawa summer camp.

Tips for a Fun and Affordable Summer at Home and at Local Ottawa Summer Camps

Ottawa summer camps offer many social, cognitive, and physical benefits to kids. But summer camps can be expensive for some family budgets and aren’t always suitable for young children.

There are, however, affordable alternatives for summer camp that will ensure your kids thoroughly enjoy their summer.

You can send your kids to local Ottawa summer camps during the day to learn and play with other kids. But if you’re looking to give your kids a bit of that classic summer camp experience, why not have a bit of fun with it at home?

An at-home summer camp allows you to spend quality time with your kids in a fun, relaxed setting, all while enjoying some of those classic camp feelings and mainstays.

Take a break from your summer schedule and shake things up with a bit of family fun at home!

Your DIY Summer Camp Game Plan

What are your kids passionate about? What are they interested in?

Art, science, and theatre are all great starting points for fun activities with a summer camp theme.

Ask your kids what they’d like to do. With a bit of fun brainstorming, you can come up with a camp theme together, or mix and match a few of your favourites for something unique – how about an art camp where you get to build volcano models?

In fact, who’s to say you can’t theme each day of the week? Pick a different activity for every day and find a theme to match!

This is a great way to get your kids invested and involved with the activities you do with them at home, and a great way to keep them engaged and interested throughout.

We’ve put together a few ideas to help get you started:

  • Artistic Adventures: Get out the paint, clay, pencil crayons, and paste. Anything goes at art camp!
  • Creepy Critters: Learn about insects like ladybugs, caterpillars, butterflies, ants, and more.
  • Science Squad: Bring out the inner scientists in your kids with fun experiments, research, and observations.
  • Space Camp: Learn about the vast universe, starting with our solar system.
  • Theatre and Dress Up: Dress up and put on plays from beloved favourite stories.

At-Home STEM Summer Camp Ideas

Activities in the field of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) help kids develop innovative thinking and problem-solving skills.

But that doesn’t mean your child will be spending their summer doing math problems!

These activities include a wide variety of things to do, and help kids develop an interest in these subjects at an early age.

Starting early helps create a foundation for their future education and potential career paths.

Here are some of the many STEM activities you can do with your kids during your at-home summer camp:

  • Build bird feeders
  • Build a cardboard tube marble run
  • Create popsicle-stick structures and catapults
  • Enjoy a nature scavenger hunt
  • Rain gutter races
  • Build with LEGO
  • Measure rooms in the house
  • Math games, counting, and pattern-recognition games

For older children, why not make a working volcano model? This engages a creative aspect, but also gives you an opportunity to do some research together.

Must-Have Daily Activities

Come up with a list of daily activities with your kids. These should include activities your kids would like to do over the summer. These should also include daily jobs around the home you’d like your kids to complete (if they are old enough).

Daily Activities

Reading & Writing

Get your child reading for 20 minutes (or longer if they want).

You can also ask them to keep a journal and write a page in it every day. This could be learning to write letters, a story, a poem, something from a writing prompt, or a recollection of activities from the previous day.

Physical Exercise

This includes anything that gets the kids up and moving! Skipping, cycling, walking, playing at the park, playing basketball, and playing games in the backyard… whatever your kids want to do that gets them active, include it here!


If your kids have summer goals to learn skills, such as playing an instrument, have them spend 20 minutes practicing that skill each day.

Home Chores

Let your children choose a chore from your list of household tasks that need to be completed each week.

These should only take 5 to 10 minutes to complete, such as “dust the living room,” or “vacuum the stairs.”


Create a list with your kids of extra must-do activities they can choose from each day. These could be online language lessons, online math or reading games, painting, drawing, extra reading or writing, or playing a board game.

As for the fun bucket list of things your kids want to do this summer, you can designate a day of the week for specific activities.

Make-It Monday

Make anything—such as arts, crafts, and building projects. And learn about artists, inventors, and engineering at the library or online.

Take a Trip Tuesday

Take a trip with the kids! Whether you choose the museum, a park, a picnic, a bike ride, a friend’s house, or on a field trip to a historic place, it’ll add a bit of adventure to the week.

Wet Wednesday

Visit a local pool, water park, or splash pad. Spend the day by the pool at home, or at a friends’ house. Alternatively, set up your own kid pools and sprinklers in your yard.

Thinking Thursday

Create a list of things your kids wonder about, such as how cars are made. Spend the day doing research on these topics at the library, through online searches, and watching online videos.

Friend Friday

Have your kids invite a friend over and enjoy free play time! What better way to cap off the week than with some friendly faces and free-structured fun?

How to Structure Your Own Summer Camp At Home

To make the most of each day, try creating a daily schedule.

A schedule helps keep you organized, slotting in all the day’s activities and making time for food, naps, and outings.

We’ve put together a sample schedule for you to use as inspiration. While you don’t need to be quite so exact, keep in mind summer camps typically have pretty full schedules for their kids.

That said, don’t be afraid to stray from the norm! Just because camps operate one way doesn’t mean your at-home summer camp has to, too.

9:00 AM (or after breakfast) – Reading or Colouring

9:30 – Home Chores/Writing

10:00 – Outdoor Physical Activity

10:30 – Snack Time

11:00 – Free Play

11:30 – Practicing

12:00 – Lunch

12:30 – Free play/Extras

1:00 – Start the Activity of the Day or Themed Activities

2:00 – Nap Time (for little ones) or Snack Time

2:30 – Continue with Activities

4:00 – End of Camp

H3: Benefits of An At-Home Summer Camp

Running your own at-home summer camp can be very rewarding. You get to spend quality time with your kids while teaching them new skills in a fun and relaxed environment – your own home!

You can make your own schedule and you won’t be stuck rushing to drop your kids at different classes and caregivers all summer.

So why would you have an at-home summer camp when so many fantastic day camps are available in the city?

For one, maybe your kids just aren’t quite ready yet. That’s totally okay! Even for kids between 6 and 8, getting out to a summer camp can be a big change of pace and a bigger step outside their comfort zone.

An at-home camp can give them a taste of that classic summer camp experience without the added stress of being away from mom and dad, especially for shy or introverted kids.

Another benefit is that you get a greater hand in what activities your kids participate in. While it’s not quite a replacement for the opportunities in a full day camp, you do get to help push your children to try new things.

Your kids can still learn the skills they are interested in learning without having to enroll them in classes throughout the summer. And you can have fun planning the wide range of activities for them, knowing you’ll get to nourish their creative, cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

If you’re concerned about socialization this summer, make play dates and bring your kids to a Kids Kingdom Ottawa summer camp for a day of play, or to give yourself a day off from your at-home summer camp.

Your kids can interact with other children and have a fulfilling summer both at home and at a local summer camp for kids.