Your summer campers are full of energy, so why not capture some of the fun with a little bit of healthy competition? By incorporating one or more of our 17 fun photo challenges for camp, you’ll not only get the kids up and moving, but you’ll also come away with some fun and engaging photos to share with parents and prospective families.
Take a stab at all of them with a Photo Scavenger Hunt, or pick and choose which photo challenges work best for your summer camp needs.
What You Should Know Before You Start
Before the fun begins, decide how you’ll use the images you collect. Technology has made it easier and easier to engage with photography almost instantly. Project images onto a movie screen, share them on social media, or save them for promotional materials.
Also, depending on the type of camera they’re using, you might want a staff member to do the picture taking. Be sure to decide who will have access to the camera before all the fun begins.
Check Out These Photo Challenges for Camp
“Spell It Out”
Alright… it’s not what it sounds like. There won’t be any spelling test at the end of this summer camp photo challenge. Instead, divide campers into groups and challenge them to “spell out” a word, name, or even an image using their collective bodies. Of course, the angle of the photo is everything—whether you need an aerial shot or a horizontal shot—but let the campers decide on perspective. Let them get creative with how they convey their word or image as well. They could lay down on the grass to get their word across or stand in a row and contort until they’ve got it just right.
- The bigger the group, the easier this challenge will be. If you want to create an equal playing field, give all groups the same word or image to “spell out” and see who can do it the fastest.
- A fun idea: a team can only win if a staff member (who doesn’t know what they were spelling) is able to look at the photo and “read” the word without too much trouble.
Let’s face it.
Whether they show it or not, all kids have a weird side.
“Best Theme Photo”
Does your camp choose a different theme every week, month, or year? If so, make the most of it by challenging the campers to take a to-die-for photo exhibiting the theme in a creative way. Maybe your theme is character-based or movie-based, style-based, or maybe your theme teaches a moral lesson. Give them some props or let their creativity lead the way. You’re sure to get the kids excited about your camp theme by incorporating it into this photo challenge.
Let’s face it. Whether they show it or not, all kids have a weird side. For those whose inner-weirdo hasn’t emerged, this challenge might just coax it out. For the “Weirdo Photo” Challenge, give them these simple instructions: do weird things, take pictures of those weird things, and choose then weirdest of them all. And since there’s no true definition of “weird,” there are no rules for this challenge.
“Mother Nature’s Clothes”
Take a traditional costume challenge to the next level by limiting the costume choices to Mother Nature. Campers have to get creative by using their natural surroundings to dress up for this photo. They could weave leaves together, pull down branches to use as swords, or even get muddied up like a tribesman.
- Give campers as little instruction as possible for this one. The fewer ideas you give them, the more their creative juices will flow.
- Be sure to set clear rules when it comes to wearing “Mother Nature’s Clothes.” Tell the campers that their “nature” clothes should be worn over their regular camper clothing so that no immodesty comes about.
“Best Nature Pic”
Speaking of Mother Nature, challenge your campers to get an artsy pic or refreshing angle on something in nature. Flowers, trees, a beautiful meadow—the sky is literally the limit. Depending on the ages of your campers, increase the difficulty of this challenge by adding extra points for meeting requirements, like capturing a snapshot of an animal eating or getting a close-up of an insect. You could also expand this challenge to include a long list of animal-related pictures that the campers need to try to capture. Whoever comes back to home base having captured the most pictures from the list wins the contest.
“Fill ‘Er Up”
This simple summer camp photo challenge involves cramming as many people as possible into a single photograph. Watch as the kids get creative about how to wedge people in, either by stacking people on top of people, standing shoulder to shoulder for an aerial shot, or partaking in one big group hug. Enhance this challenge by limiting the distance between the camera and the crowd to 10 feet. Raise the level of difficulty by requiring that every person’s face be visible in the photograph.
“Don’t Get Caught”
For this photo challenge, teams will have to snap a photo of the other team without getting caught. We’re not sure why, but there’s much more thrill in a secret mission. Give the campers a certain amount of time to finish this challenge (like 24-48 hours). That way, other teams will have let their guards down enough for the challenge to work. If you decide to do a photo scavenger hunt–one in which you use all of these photo challenge ideas–then a time limit won’t matter. Teams will be so busy trying to get all of these photos completed that they won’t realize that the other teams are creeping up on them.
To make this challenge more difficult, require that the teams get pictures only from the front with faces showing. It’s definitely harder to accomplish this mission when you can’t come up from behind.
“A Little Perspective”
Every camper’s perspective matters. That’s why we’ve come up with this summer camp photo challenge to get a glimpse into how they see the world. First, campers need to find a subject to photograph—it could be a person, an animal or plant, an object, or a place. Then, as a group, their job is to take three photographs, each from a different perspective. Increase difficulty by asking them to name each perspective, like “A Bee’s View of a Tulip” or “A Child’s View of a Counselor.”
Popular stories contain many of the same “essential” features: beautiful illustrations, a picturesque setting, and a plotline the details events, dialogue between characters, and a happy ending. But this photo challenge will attempt to tell a story with virtually none of these staples.
The object of the “Story-Time” photo will be for the group to take a picture that tells a story. The hard part? The group can only choose one photo to do this, not a set of photos, and the image itself must convey it (no words or signs allowed).
Only give this challenge to campers who are ready to give it a great deal of creativity and thought. If you want to encourage some “outside the box” thinking, this “Story Time” challenge is sure to do the trick.
“My Current Mood”
First, have the group decide on an emotion or provide hat-full of different emotions for them to choose from. Then, tell the campers that their job is to convey that emotion using one still photograph. This is a challenging one because it requires campers to make use of colors, settings, and potentially facial expressions or body language of group members when photographing their chosen subject. Take a look at the photo above to get an idea of how a photo can convey emotion effectively. What emotion do you feel when you look at it?
“Black and White”
You can go two different ways with this one. Either challenge the campers to create an intriguing black and white photo, one that conveys deep emotion, or challenge them to create an old-timey scene that is perfect for the black and white filter.
Before they start, remind the campers that what they wear or use for props in this photo may blend together with a black and white filter. For clarity, encourage them to think about how color shades would look in black and white and adjust accordingly.
Does your camp have a motto, mission statement, logo, or mascot? If not, maybe your camp is placed in a specific locale with special features, like in the Appalachian Mountains or by the Gulf Shores. In any of these cases, you could challenge your campers to see which group can show the most “camp spirit.” Let campers represent camp-life and camp-identity in any creative way they see fit, and then choose the best one to promote your camp on social media and through camp marketing materials.
In order to win this challenge, campers will have to take a picture alongside a living, breathing animal. Of course, for those adventurous types, you’ll have to make a list of animals that are off-limits. After all, you wouldn’t want them to get cozy with a snake or a mountain lion.
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER FOR THIS CHALLENGE:
The less domesticated the animal, the more fun the challenge! Consider removing the black lab or the cabin kitty cat from the list of eligible animals.
Chances are, your campers aren’t familiar with the intricacies of yoga practice. So, to pull this challenge off, you could provide each team with a yoga quick-guide worksheet. The fun comes into play when the campers try to bend and pose into the most hilarious ways just for a simple pic. They probably won’t be any more flexible after they take the photo, but they’ll definitely get some laughs out of it.
“Mannequins and Robots”
Speaking of steady posing, for the “Mannequins and Robots” challenge, groups of campers can compete to create the most hilarious “still” photo. They could freeze for a photo during s’more-eating time, during a game of volleyball, or even during a boating trip with their oars posed just right. Increase the difficulty of this challenge by making it a requirement for every group member to not only be present in the photo but also fully visible.
Using a puddle, the shore of a beautiful pond, a mirror, or even something shiny like a leaf after a rain shower, challenge the campers to get a snapshot of a reflection. This one will be a toughy because campers will have to figure out how to get that reflection without the camera getting in the way. You could get more specific by allowing only campers’ reflections instead of nature reflections such as trees, flowers, or fallen logs.
This challenge is the mother of all photo challenges, so you may want to save this one for last. “Slideshow Time” requires campers to tell a story with photos. Choose a minimum amount of photos that groups are required to submit (we recommend at least 8), and watch as they convey an event through still photos. Turn up the fun meter by having campers commemorate funny stories from their time at camp through their slideshow, and show it at Parent’s Night at the end of summer.
The Photo Walk: a less-intense photo challenge
A photo walk is an activity where photographers gather and take a stroll while taking photographs of beautiful or intriguing sights. Apply this concept to camp by taking your group of excited campers on a journey through camp and letting them photograph whatever catches their attention.
If you feel that free-photography will breed chaos, give the campers a list of items to look for and photograph as they stroll. This keeps the kids engaged on the task at hand while fostering an appreciation for the beauty surrounding them.
Want to make it into a competition? Simply print a list of all of the challenges above and turn your relaxing photo walk into an intense scavenger hunt.
The Many Benefits of Photo Challenges for Camp
There are countless benefits to incorporating these photo challenges for camp. You can send the best of the best out to parents or post on social media, add them to promotional materials, foster relationships through fun photo-centered activities, and even reminisce with staff and campers at summer’s end.