The first activity in our Summer Series is Creating Your Own Family Camp! You may choose to watch this video that outlines and shows examples of each step, or simply follow the instructions listed below! If you have any questions, feel free to comment or reach out to me directly at

Enjoy your summer!

What is a Summer Family Camp?

Summer is nearly here! And do you know what time it is? Time for camp!

Now I am not referring to the type of camping that involves pitching a tent and roasting smores, although that can be a lot of fun to do with your family.

I want to talk with you about the type of camp where you typically engage in a central theme of your choosing and participate in different activities around your theme. For example, sports camp, theatre camp, or robotics camp!

Today I want to share a fun and playful way to engage with your children: designing and implementing your very own family camp! This can be done with children of all ages and is a great family tradition to revisit each summer. Additionally, you can do this if you are having a staycation, if you are on a road trip, or even if you have just a half-hour a day with your kids.

So much of the creativity research focuses on finding an interest, so this is a wonderful way to explore, nurture, and learn more about your families interests! The most important thing about designing your family camp is to include all members of your family (if possible), so that you are learning, creating, and building together.

You don’t need to use my steps exactly as they are presented. Take what you like, modify it for your family, and most importantly, have fun!

For this activity, you will need some Post-it notes, markers, and paper.

Let’s get started!

Name Your Family Camp

Before we generate ideas on potential themes for your family camp, I would like to get you and your family warmed up by coming up with a name for your family camp.

A super simple way to name your camp is by putting together your family name + “Camp.” So, for my family, it would be called “Burnett Camp.” But because we are creative thinkers; this is a great opportunity to come up with many different potential names for your camp! To do this, we are going to generate names using divergent thinking, and then you will select a name using convergent thinking.

Divergent thinking is a type of thinking that allows you to generate lots of ideas, and the important part of divergent thinking is that there are guidelines. So, let’s go through them!

When you are using divergent thinking:

  1. Stay open-minded and delay your judgment. This can be the hardest part of being creative. So, when you hear ideas from your family members, you are not allowed to say things like, “That won’t work,” “We don’t have the money for that,” or “Ew!” Ideas are just ideas. If something surprises you, then try keeping an open mind and asking questions about it.
  2. Go for quantity. The more ideas you generate, the more originality comes out of them. So, aim for 100 potential family camp names! If you can only get to 50, great!
  3. Encourage wild and crazy ideas! Remember, we are delaying our judgment, so if you have a wild and crazy camp name, like “Bandana Bear Burnetts,” then make sure you share it. After all, we are practicing our divergent thinking!
  4. Build upon each other’s ideas. If you hear something you like, then feel free to build upon it! For example, “Bandana Bear Burnetts” can turn into “Bandana Bear Burnetts Bathing in Bacon!”

Now, Grab Your Post-Its!

Here is what you need to do next: Find a wall in your house and grab some Post-Its. Your title should be “Names for Our Family Camp.” You will also need some markers. Write down one idea per Post-It, say it aloud, and stick it on your wall.

Make sure that you can see all the ideas. If you have little ones who can’t write yet, then have them share their ideas in pictures or dictate their ideas so that you can write them down for them. I really want to encourage you to be wild and crazy with your ideas here! Remember: Write it, say it, stick it!

Here are the family camp names that my family and I generated together.

Name of Family Camp

Well, how many potential names were you able to generate?

Selecting a Name for Your Family Camp

Next, it is time to select your family camp name. We will do this by using convergent thinking, and just like divergent thinking, convergent thinking also has a set of guidelines to follow.

Give each member of your family three stickers they can place on their favorite ideas and use the following guidelines:

  1. Make sure to use positive judgment. Looking over each idea and saying, “No, no, no,” isn’t particularly useful when you are trying to be creative. Instead, look at each idea and ask yourself, “What do I like about this idea?”
  2. Seek Novelty. Sure, you could start with the basic “Burnett Family Camp,” but who could forget the “Bouncing Banana-Boat Burnetts?”
  3. Check your criteria. Does this name reflect who are you as a family?

Place your stickers on your top three choices, and then work together as a family to see if you can create one name out of them. Here is our final choice:

Poster children made

Some Extra Fun!

Once you have converged on a name for your family camp, you are ready for the next step! But before you go on, you may want to do one of the following with your new family camp name:

  • Create a family camp sign or logo. Grab a piece of paper, preferably large piece of paper, some markers (we recommend the BIC Magic Markers!) and design your own family camp sign or logo.
  • Invent a new song, dance, handshake, or slogan for your camp.
  • Design your own Family Camp t-shirts or wardrobe accessories.

Part Two: Generating Themes for Your Family Camp

Are you ready for some more fun? We are going to generate possible themes for your family camp! Before you generate potential themes, go back and revisit the divergent thinking guidelines:

  1. Stay open and delay your judgment. If someone picks bug camp, you should relax, listen, and ask questions, and not jump in with “yuck! I don’t like bugs!!”
  2. Seek Quantity. We are going to ask you and your family to generate 100 potential themes!
  3. Seek wild and crazy ideas. The wild and unusual ideas often make for really fun and interesting camps!
  4. Build on other ideas. If you hear something you like, for example, dance camp, you can build on it with salsa dancing, or salsa and chip making camps!

Remember an idea is just an idea! If you have one, write it down, say it, and stick it up on your wall. Be sure to write “camp” at the end of each idea. For example,

  • Theatre camp
  • Sports camp
  • Baseball camp
  • Dance camp
  • Ukulele camp
  • Cooking Camp

It is important to note, that you can have any theme, big or small, as a potential theme. If it enters your mind, write it down. You never know how one idea will lead to another!

Here is a photo of my family generating potential themes!

wall of post-its

If you get stuck, here are some questions that might spark new ideas:

  1. What would you like to learn about?
  2. What makes you feel happy? (Does ice cream camp make you happy? If so, write it down and stick it up there!)
  3. What is something you know nothing about?
  4. What do you enjoy doing together?
  5. What could you create together?

Aim for 100 potential themes. Once you have exhausted all ideas, take an incubation break, and revisit it the next day. Are there any ideas you would like to add? If not, then you are ready for the final step!

Develop Your Criteria

It is now time to select your theme, but before you do, you will need to come up with some criteria.

Here are some things you need to consider:

  1. Cost: Do you have a budget for how much you can spend?
  2. Time: How much time can you give to your camp? Typically, my family and I do a week-long theme, and we spend a few hours on our theme each day. However, you can make it a full-day camp, or even just a half-hour over a few days.
  3. Resources: Do you have the resources to create this camp? If not, then will it fit within your budget?
  4. Ability: Can everyone in the family participate in this theme? Feel free to use any other criteria that you think is important.

Selecting Your Camp Themes

Now comes the best part: selecting your camp theme! Give everyone five stickers to select their five favorite ideas. If one member has selected a camp theme, and another likes it, then they can also add their star.

You will need to review the convergent guidelines once again:

  1. Make sure to use positive judgment. Before you say “no” to an idea, think of how you might adapt it to fit your criteria.
  2. Seek Novelty. There will likely be ideas that family members don’t want to be a part of. Invite them to keep an open mind and give it a try!
  3. Check your criteria. Does it fit within your time, abilities, and budget?

Now, it is time for the big family conversation to select your camp ideas! This is when you can decide how to make it fit within everyone’s time and commitment for the summer. In my family, we each select the one camp theme that we would like to pursue, and then we spend a week focusing on that theme.

Here were our choices:


Part Three: Design and Begin Your Family Camp!

Now, it’s time to design and start on your camp theme! First, you will need to decide when you will implement each theme, and how much time will be given to each theme. Next, you should decide on the components of your family camp.

Here are some of my recommendations:

  1. Head to the library. Find the section that your theme belongs to and check out some books to read together!
  2. Make something. What are all the things you could make based on your theme?
  3. Plan an outing. Go somewhere to learn more about your theme.
  4. Show and tell. Teach others what you are learning from your theme.

Enjoy the Summer!

Are you ready to get started? Before you go, here are some of our examples.

Several years ago, my family adopted the theme of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is our favorite musical of all time. So, we borrowed a children’s book based on the story, learned the words to the songs, made our own colorful “dreamcoats” and paintings, and made a technicolor meal!

Joseph jackets
Any dream will do poster

One year, my son selected an invention theme camp, so we picked up some books on famous inventors to read, we looked for potential challenges we could overcome with new inventions, and we even invented our own meal.


The opportunities for family camps are endless. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun, not take it too seriously, and give your children the opportunity to select an idea that they are passionate about and lead the way.

If you have any questions or want to share your ideas, then I would love to see them! Please post them in the comments below.

Dr. Cyndi Burnett is the Director of Possibilities for Creativity and Education. Like her creativity-focused curriculum for students and teachers, Cyndi embraces the creative lifestyle that she teaches. You will often find her trying on new ideas, exploring resources to stretch her thinking, and being an advocate for playfulness and humor. Although she loves to research and write about creativity, Cyndi is a firm believer in field service. She has 20 years of teaching experience as an academic at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State where she instructed classes in creative-thinking and creative problem-solving.

Cyndi is the co-author of the books Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum, 20 Lessons for Weaving Creativity into your Curriculum, and My Sandwich Is a Spaceship: Creative Thinking for Parents and Young Children.

Check out more blogs from Cyndi here.

*** Please note: The Divergent and Convergent Guidelines are based on research on the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process.  For more information on these guidelines, please check out:

Applied Imagination by Osborn

Sourcebook for Creative Problem Solving by Parnes

Creativity Unbound by Miller, Vehar, and Firestein

Creative Leadership: Skills that Drive Change by Puccio, Mance, and Murdock.

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