Summer Camps are such a fun time of year. The center that I led for 5 years ran a Preschool and After School Program throughout the school year and then in the summer, they had 6 weeks of camp. I personally enjoyed camps so much. It was a time to play, have fun, and it was much more laid back then the rest of the school year. I also loved the planning aspect of camps. It took me almost 4 years to officially pass off the camp planning to another team member because I loved to do it so much.
While on the topic of planning, there’s nothing that makes camps more fun than getting out of the center for a weekly field trip. For our school age camp, we did 1-2 field trips each week. This was quite the ordeal because often it meant transporting 60-160 kids via 12 passenger vans. Honestly, in case you were wondering, it was not the most cost effective way to transport kids but it was the resource that we had, so we used it!
Planning new and exciting field trips each year was always a challenge but we managed to always add in a few new ones and keep some of the best old ones. Here is my list of the best field trips. After 6 years of camp, I quickly learned what field trips both kids and teachers would enjoy, so here we go!
1. Local Watershed: Our local watershed is amazing. They have a whole exhibit of the water cycle and they will meet and talk with a group of kids for no charge. Check out the watershed in your area, perhaps they will have an education center like ours does as well.
2. Visit a Local Farm and Pick Berries: I am such a fan of teaching kids where their food comes from. They love to eat it but often have little to no connection to its origins. One of my favorite field trips is to take them to a local farm and pick fruit or vegetables. We live in a relatively large farming area and summer time usually means berry picking, which the kids love! To add the icing on the cake, you could also go back to the center and make a berry pie. A very cool experience for kids to have.
3. Chocolate Factory Tour: This was by far one of the kid favorites. If you have a local chocolate factory, find out if they offer tours. It’s so fun for kids to see how candies and chocolates are made. Often the factory will provide samples at the end of the tour. Make sure to note if you have any kids with nut allergies. I would always bring nut-free chocolate for those kids who couldn’t do the tasting.
4. Local Grocery Store Tour: You might be thinking that I am crazy, who would want to tour a grocery store? Honestly, it’s so interesting if you haven’t done it before. It’s such a great opportunity for kids to learn all about the ‘business side’ of a grocery store. A good learning experience for them and usually the bakery gives treats too (which in a child’s book is always a bonus)!
5. Science Center: This is a top for most kids. Although we live in Seattle and our Science Center is world-renowned, check out the one in your area. This is a great way to excite children about learning and also a great way to spend a day in the summer.
6. Zoo or Aquarium: Who doesn’t like to visit all types of cool animals?! Visiting a zoo or aquarium is a great field trip. I will be honest, this is usually the hardest place to keep track of kids but if you can add a few extra staff, this will help!
7. Free Kids Movie: Many local theaters will show kids movies in the summer for little or no charge. We all know kids love movies, so indulge them one time this summer.
I hope you can join me in saying that summer can be fun with just a few outings each week for the children at your center. There are so many ways to do this with little or no charge. By setting up a schedule for field trips this summer, you will not only excite the children but also set your centers summer camp apart from the others. Take the summer to let loose and have fun with the children at your center!
Don’t forget to document these amazing adventures by snapping photos throughout and posting them to the parent portal. Parents love to stay in the loop, help them to do so by sharing photos this summer.