As the sun shines brighter and the days last longer, more campers are looking for opportunities and excuses to get outside. Though many campers tend to plan longer trips further in advance, there are still plenty of opportunities to attract spontaneous guests of all varieties to your property. Check out this list of last-minute summer event ideas to fill your calendar and campsites.
Last Minute Summer Event Ideas
Choose from the list of summer event ideas below to arrange activities at your campground that will draw in your local community or act as a point of differentiation for guests from out of town considering your campground among other options.
1. Family Field Day
Nationwide, many elementary schools hold field days each year to get kids outside while encouraging teamwork. You can adapt this idea for families staying at your park, too. Think relay races, team-building exercises, water balloon tosses, and tug of war. Annual field day t-shirts branded with your campground logo also fit the theme well. Be sure to advertise a prize for the winning team to entice bookings!
2. Yoga Retreat
Many people enjoy yoga for its relaxing nature and the ability to practice it pretty much anywhere, especially outside. Invite a local yoga instructor to your park to lead a single class or a retreat-style week of yoga sessions. Alternatively, set up an outdoor projector and display a yoga video tutorial from YouTube.
3. Wildflower Picking
If you have a lot of unused acreage, consider allocating some of it to grow wildflowers. Near the end of the summer season, allow guests to pick fresh bouquets. Campers local to the area can take them home to enjoy and everyone else will enjoy the floral scenery while on site. You could even consider charging per bouquet, or giving them away for free during a you-pick event with food trucks and live music.
4. Farmers Market
Farmers markets are a treasured asset for produce, artisan goods, and community conversation. Whether your area is lacking one or one is already well-established, you could host your region’s next farmers market. By bringing this outside event to your park, you involve the surrounding community, increase brand recognition for your park and all vendors involved, and enrich your campers’ experience. Double check your state and local laws for any requirements around markets and food sales.
5. Pop-Up Theater
Many campers like to travel with their portable instruments, including guitars. Transform your recreation room into an open mic stage this summer by inviting local talent and guests to perform. Aside from musical performances, you can encourage campfire stories, improvised comedy, sketch groups, road trip games, or similarly interactive group entertainment. If needed, recruit your staff to start and soon campers will join in.
6. Summer Solstice
Typically falling sometime around the 21st of June, the summer solstice is the longest day and subsequently shortest night of the year. Often, it will fall on a weekday, which presents a great opportunity to create a solstice discount to increase occupancy. After all, who doesn’t want to be camping on the official day that marks summertime? Consider pairing your solstice event with a group dinner, like a seafood boil.
7. Tie-Dye Tuesday
Understandably so, Tuesdays are likely not your busiest day of the week. Encourage campers to extend their long-holiday weekend trip by one more day with a fun craft, like t-shirt tie-dying. It’s the perfect practical souvenir to take home.
8. Scavenger Hunt
Take hide and seek to the next level with a scavenger hunt around your campground. This can be theme-based and curated or centered on naturally occurring finds, such as local plant species and property landmarks. Up the difficulty level and incentivize winners with future- or free-stay discounts.
9. Whodunit Mystery
Bring Clue to life with a weekend full of whodunit-inspired fun. You can purchase (or find for free) fully-formed mystery plots complete with character assignments, props, and a clever narrative. In addition to an organized mystery experience, you could host a costume contest or invite a magician to perform for your guests.
10. Community Cookout
Barbecuing is a favorite summer pastime that goes hand in hand with camping. For a per-plate fee or as a first-come first-served “thank you” to midweek campers, hold a daytime cookout. Either way, guests will appreciate the option of on-site food. This could easily coincide with a national food day, such as National Hot Dog Day in July.
11. Game Night
Between board games, cards, and bingo, there are seemingly endless gaming opportunities to host this summer. Combine any typical game with a tournament structure, teams, prize pool, and food options to increase participation. If you have an arcade or other digitized games, the same ideas can apply.
12. Model Boat Race
If your property includes waterfront—lake, river, pond—or is close to a public body of water, you can host a model boat race. Either supply guests with the tools to create model sailboats that day or invite enthusiasts to bring their own models during their stay. The top three race winners can go home with a camp store prize or a future stay voucher. Hopefully everyone can cool off with a swim after, too.
13. Farm to Table Dining
Consumers are increasingly conscious of the origin and quality of their food. Tap into this desire by hosting a farm to table dining experience at your park. Think farm fresh eggs, organic produce, and free-range livestock all sourced locally. Cultivate your own food or partner with local farmers or a restaurateur. A mid-week brunch or dinner date-night would entice locals to camp. Don’t forget dessert!
14. Charity Event
Most people have at least one charity that is near and dear to their heart, and campground operators are well-positioned to spotlight their favorite charity through a custom event. Incorporate related ideas from this list such as games, crafts, teams, food, and prizes to creatively raise funds for your favorite cause. A lower maintenance fundraising idea is a 50/50 raffle—half to a winning camper and half to your chosen charity. Organizations of well-established peer-to-peer events like Relay for Life also offer many resources so you don’t have to plan from scratch.
15. Full-Time RVer Meet and Greet
If you traditionally host long-term guests and full-time RVers, bring them together with a little effort and organization. This can be as simple as meeting at the pavilion one evening or it can be more elaborate, like a speed-friending event. These guests will appreciate that you brought them together to form a connection and tell their other RVing friends of your hospitality.
16. Dog Parade
What better way to celebrate the dog days of summer than with a dog parade featuring all of your furry guests. This could take place at your dog park, along a hiking trail, or elsewhere on your property. Campers can show off their pups and meet fellow dog owners. Consider handing out pup-cups or other cool treats as favors.
17. Fire Truck Tour
Young children are mesmerized by firefighters and their trucks. Invite your local heroes to the park one day for a fire truck tour and fire safety education. You can also expand this event to invite EMS professionals with an ambulance or police officers.
18. Community Campfire
Bonfires are one of the most iconic traditions of camping. Show campers how to start, manage, and extinguish a campfire responsibly with a park-wide event. Consider providing s’mores supplies and hosting this event on August 10, which is National S’mores Day. Perhaps Smokey Bear could even make an appearance.
In addition to attracting campers and filling nightly gaps, these summer event ideas can generate ancillary revenue on their own—and this is just a starting point. There are numerous ways to execute these summer event ideas and many more unlisted ideas waiting to be brought to life. We hope you were inspired and we wish you happy event planning in the summer months and beyond!
Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as snow skiing up north and scuba diving in the Great Lakes. A former Campspot marketing manager, Haley holds a B.A. degree in public policy from Michigan State University and an M.S. degree in sustainability from the University of Michigan. She is passionate about environmental stewardship, exploring the outdoors, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.