DIY Summer Camps for Kids

A few summers ago, I wanted time to do my artwork every day and I wanted to interact with my kids as well. I decided to try at home summer camps. In the morning, I do my artwork. The kids are free to choose what they do. After lunch we do Summer Camp.

This summer, especially because of COVID-19, we didn’t have a choice. All of our camps needed to be done at home.

I’ve learned a few tricks to doing home camps that help me be successful.

  1. Don’t do a new camp every week. You get camp director burn out by the third camp and you could care less about what your kids do that summer. This summer I am only doing them every other week. So far so good.

  2. Make shopping for materials be the first day of camp. Instead of shopping during my personal time, this year I decided to shop on the first day of camp. If the kids need to help pick out their materials—like fabric for sewing camp, then they come with. If not, I go shopping on my own. My kids see the real cost of time to get everything ready for their camp and I include it in my plan for the week.

  3. Don’t cut off more than you can chew. When we did Sewing Camp this year, I realized that if all we got done was sewing 7 masks per person by the end of the week, we would be doing well. I cut the scope of week one down to masks and planned Sewing Camp 2 that will be pajama pants. By the end of week one, my kids could sew a mask without my help (except for the flat felled seam) and I got out of their way and let them sew. Art camp was similar, when I sat down to plan out the camp, I realized that I was trying to jam too many concepts into 5 days. If I stretched it to 2 weeks, we could be more successful. We are starting week 2 today.

  4. Plan for practice time. When I taught elementary school, I learned that you have to give the kids time to try it out on their own. You are not an entertainer. Nor are you helping them learn anything if you do it for them. Model what you want them to do. Guide them through one of the exercises. (AKA: guided practice) And then get out of their way and give them time to do it. For sewing camp that meant I was involved the first day, maybe two, and then I was around for questions as needed the other 3 days. By the end of the week, they were making masks independently. For art camp, it has meant that I teach a drawing exercises, we do one together, then I have them save 3 practice pages in their sketchbook for them to do on their own and move on to the next exercise. The next day, during camp time, they do the practice in their sketch book on their own. It gives me a break and it gives time for them to practice what they just learned.

  5. Be flexible. Last week we didn’t get to the last drawing exercise and Monday I took off from Summer Camps because it was my birthday. I might have to extend the last day into the following week or cut something out entirely. I’m also looking at the second week plan, and I might have put more than we can do this week in the plan. So I might have to make ART Camp 2.

I only have 3 kids left at home. They range in age from 16 to 10. I can do more with them and expect more out of them. If you have younger kids, you can still do summer camps. Shorten how much time you spend doing camp daily. 30 minutes is ample for really young kids. Simple activities like making sliced apples, peanut butter, and mini marshmallows into smiling mouths full of teeth could be the entire “camp” for the day. Have them help you clean up as part of camp. They will remember those simple camps and remember that you did it all day long with them. Memory is a funny thing.

We are in the middle of ART Camp. My kids wanted to learn how to draw faces and hands and landscapes and they wanted to paint. I felt that teaching them a few more drawing exercises that help to train their eye would be helpful as well.

My favorite from my 16 yo sketchbook from week 1

My favorite from my 16 yo sketchbook from week 1

My 14 yo’s favorite from week 1

My 14 yo’s favorite from week 1

My favorite from my 10 yo’s sketch book week 1

My favorite from my 10 yo’s sketch book week 1

Here is my outline for ART Camp:

Week 1:

Day 1: Buy Supplies

Day 2: Instruction Day:

Contour line in pencil

Blind contour in ball point pen

Negative space in marker

Using a grid to draw an object in pencil

Day 3: Practice Day

Draw 3 contour line drawings in your sketchbook

Draw 3 Blind contour line drawings in your sketchbook

Draw 3 Negative space drawings in your sketchbook

Draw 3 drawings using a grid in your sketchbook

Day 4: Instruction Day:

Gesture drawing with copic marker (N0) and pencil

2 Point perspective and 1 point perspective

Turn an object around in your head and draw it from a different angle.

Day 5: Practice Day

Draw 3 gesture drawings with copic marker and pencil (use the grid to help)

Draw 3 perspective drawings in your sketchbook

Draw 3 “blocks” that you have turned 3 times in your head.

Week 2

Day 1: Instruction Day

Adding light and shadow using light orange and light blue copic markers (R12 and B12)

Sketching with Gouache paint

Day 2: Practice Day

Draw 3 more things from the Living Room then add light and shadow to them with the copic markers

Draw 3 more thing from outside and add light and shadow to them with the copic markers

Sketch 3 things using your Gouache paint

Day 3: Instruction Day

Hands and Feet

Faces: proportion Rules

Day 4: Practice Day

Draw your hand in 3 different poses

Draw your feet or someone else’s feet from 3 different angles

Using Google Images, draw 3 sets of eyes, 3 different noses, 3 different ears

Draw a face from real life

Draw a face from a reference photo

Day 5: Field Trip Day: Landscape Drawing/Painting

Paint/Draw a local Icon (we are going to draw the nearby bridge over the CT River)

Paint/Draw a tree in our backyard

Paint/Draw a landscape near you.

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