No Camp? No Problem! How to Entertain your Children this Summer on a Budget

Summer activities

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With many summer children’s camps closed, operating at a limited capacity or parent not feeling comfortable about sending children off to a crowded venue, many parents are now looking for ways to keep their kids entertained when they would normally be out of the house for the day – without breaking the bank of course.

Keeping kids entertained on a budget is no small feat, especially when they’ve already been home since March and have likely gone through all the obvious activities. But there’s no need to stress, we’ve got some strategies to help you survive summer while keeping your financial head above water.

Be Realistic – Let’s be honest, even if you are Super Parent, you probably won’t be able to keep up with the itinerary that a Summer Camp offered your children. It can be especially difficult if you are trying to keep up with a full-time job as well, even if you are working from home. You need a plan and a schedule.

Get the whole family involved with producing the plan because you don’t want to plan activities that you think are fun, but the kids hate. Keep in mind that even though you want your kids to have a say, it’s important that you stick to your budget and track all your expenses. Spending every day at an amusement park or eating out might sound fun, but it’s not realistic.

Get Creative – It might be tempting to splurge on the latest and greatest must have item to make up for the kids being stuck home, but is that really going to entertain your kids all Summer? Probably not.

It’s time to get creative instead. Perhaps you can try and adjust your work schedule for  breaks to do some of the following with your children:

  • Do a science experiment – hello baking soda and vinegar volcanoes!
  • Exercise – yoga, walk the dog, mini-Olympics, bike ride – or perhaps an obstacle course!
  • Learn and do a new dance – check out YouTube!
  • Video chat with friends and family – let the children choose the agenda
  • Play a board game or cards – have a tournament
  • Have a water balloon fight – choose teams, build forts, and create strategies!
  • Weed the garden and pick veggies – then make some fabulous meals!
  • Create an artistic masterpiece from sidewalk chalk – take pictures and frame them for posterity – or even create cards or calendars for the holidays!

These are all short activities that you can do in between getting some work done and all very affordable if not free.

Teaching Opportunity  – If your kids don’t understand why they can’t do everything they want or why you won’t buy them new toys to entertain them, use this as a teaching opportunity and talk to them about money and budgets.

We aren’t saying they should be able to balance the family bank account, but just like you slip veggies into their food, slip some financial lessons into the activities plan. Bonus, you don’t even need to create them yourself, we have a library of topics to choose from in our Young Financiers Workshop.

Some other fun ways to teach and stay on budget are letting your kids help meal plan. Challenge them to find a recipe that incorporates ingredients you already have in the house and how you can substitute one ingredient for another. Let them search the internet for new recipe ideas!

Don’t Compare Yourself – Social media is great for getting ideas and seeing what others are doing to keep their kids entertained, but FOMO (fear of missing out) is real! If you are constantly following the “perfect” family and wishing you could do everything they are doing, then it’s time to turn the social media off.

A great idea instead is to team up with some neighborhood families to share ideas or create some mini camps where you take turns hosting the kids.  Yes, you’ll have some extra kids every now and then, but you’ll also get breaks where you have no children running around so you can enjoy some quiet time!

Here are a few bonus ideas you might be able to incorporate at night or weekends too:

Build a time capsule, create a scavenger hunt, camp in the backyard, have a dance party or karaoke contest, cook meals together, or have a talent/fashion show. It will certainly be challenging to keep your kids entertained 24/7 but if you plan, be realistic, get creative, and don’t compare yourself to others, you and your kids can still have a fun and activity-filled Summer.


Joy Sherwood
Assistant Branch Manager