Explore America's Campgrounds
Although an infinite variety of summer camp themes are possible, some of the best-suited themes for day camps relate to wildlife, science, sports, history or creativity. Regardless of the theme you select, prepare a broad range of activities, including games, crafts and projects, to reach as many students as possible. Always consider the age, skill level and personality of the students before deciding on a theme.
Students are often fascinated with animals and, by including a wide variety of species, you can attract children of many different backgrounds. For example, some students will be interested in learning about reptiles, sharks and spiders, while others will prefer learning about dolphins and horses. While educational games, movies and experiments are suitable activities that lend themselves well to animal-related themes, it is important to ensure that the students enjoy plenty of up-close interaction with animals. Enlist a local live-animal-programming group or rehabilitation center to bring some animals to meet the students.
Mad Scientist Week
Mad science week is a popular theme for elementary-school-aged children, but it requires a lot of preparation. Activities should include experiments, group projects, scavenger hunts and games that are tailored to the topic of the day. Instead of narrowing your focus to a single discipline, cover a different discipline each day. You may perform chemistry experiments on Monday, and learn about astronomy on Tuesday. Have the students dissect plants and collect leaves on Wednesday, but learn about zoology on Thursday. Friday should feature review games reiterating what the students have learned, or you could cover a new topic, such as physics. Practice all experiments and demonstrations ahead of time to ensure that you are prepared to explain and execute them.
Designing a week around sports-related activities requires access to sufficient space and any equipment necessary. Plan suitable sports and games for the age and skill level of your students. Young students are best served by games like kickball, four-square and soccer, while older students may prefer basketball, volleyball or gymnastics. Always keep safety in mind when planning high-energy activities in the summer heat; be sure your students stay adequately hydrated and alternate between indoor and outdoor activities.
Many students enjoy learning about history, but their interests tend to shift with age. Your youngest campers may prefer learning about the middle ages and primitive, pioneer lifestyles, while your 9 to 12 year old students may be interested in World War II, ancient Greece and the Great Depression. Alternatively, you could concentrate on a single important historical event on successive days. For example, one day, students may learn about the Civil War, and the next they may learn about the discovery of America. Games, costumes and plays are excellent activities for historically-themed camps, as are historical arts and crafts projects.
Art camp themes are especially well suited for day camps because many potential activities -- such as finger painting and clay sculpting -- can be appropriate for a wide range of ages. Decide whether you want to cover a variety of styles and media, or have a narrow focus. You could tackle a new medium each day of the week, or spend the entire week exploring impressionist painting. Be sure to provide the students with plenty of examples of art in addition to enabling them to create their own. Your budget will dictate the types of supplies and projects available to you, but even modest budgets can yield a fun and educational art camp.