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How to make your backyard and home more fun than camp

Erica Corsano, special to CNBC Make It

With Covid-19 cases surging in so many states and outbreaks of popping up at camps from Georgia to Oregon, the safest place for you and your kids to be this summer could be in your own backyard. Here are six affordable ways to turn your home into a vacation spot to make the most of this homebound season.

Do camp activities at home

While nothing beats the real-deal, Lori Lerman Rotman, the director at Maine's Camp Caribou, says that with a little creativity, there's plenty of camp-like fun to be had at home.

"We remain strong together through simple traditions like summertime foods, toasts and a campfire, fire pit, or even a candle!" says Rotman.

The camping vet says that eating s'mores together, sing alongs, art activities like tie-dying shirts, inventing secret handshakes and even camping out on your lawn can bring the feeling of camp home.

Transform your bathroom into a spa with a virtual facial

Skincare expert Lydia Sarfati — whose skincare product line is used at resorts around the globe — says you can give yourself a spa-worthy treatment at home. Put some fresh flowers, candles and clean towels in your bathroom, turn on soothing music and make yourself a cup iced water with lemon or cucumber. Then take a bath and put on a face mask, she says.

"In 20 minutes you'll feel like you were in a spa," says Sarfati.

Once you dry off, massage your favorite body cream onto your skin and work out any kinks in your neck with a Kansa wand, which is an ancient Ayurvedic massage tool.

And if your facial skin needs some extra love with all that sweaty mask-wearing, you can book a virtual consultation with Sarfati. She will inspect your skin on Zoom or FaceTime and make product reccommendations from her skincare line Repechage. 

Produce outdoor plays or an at-home art gallery

Many performing arts destinations will stay closed until next year, so Boston Children's Museum educator Melissa Higgins suggests producing a play or curating an at-home art gallery with the kids.

To put on a play, use your front steps or backyard deck as a stage, add accent furniture from around the house as props and old clothes can be reworked into costumes, says Higgins. You can act out an original play by the kids or find one online. 

For the art gallery, have the kids draw their own creations or print out photos the kids are drawn to online. Then hang the photos on your hallway walls to curate a show together. 

"These activities are fun ways for kids to practice perspective-taking, explore their passions and let their imaginations go," Higgins says. 

Go around the world in 30 movies

David Bueno, general manager at The Jefferson hotel in Washington, D.C. says its pretty simple to create themed movie nights in your backyard. All you need is a white sheet, an inexpensive projector and takeout.

"You could order foods from restaurants based on country themes," says Bueno. Watch "Slumdog Millionaire" with your favorite Indian food or "Sweet Home Alabama" with southern fare like fried chicken.

"Alternatively, you could binge watch episodes of Chef's Table on Netflix, taking you to amazing places around the world, and eat the cuisine from the region they are in," he says.

Have a Vegas-style pool party

You don't need an in-ground pool to have a pool party this summer.

For a few hundred dollars you can buy an adult-sized temporary pool, or if you want to be really hipster, get in on the Instagram-friendly trend of stock tank pools. (Stock tanks are actually troughs for livestock but people are turning them into backyard oasis.)

Drain your pool daily or add safe chlorine balls (like you would a hot tub) for longer water use. Throw in an LED-lit swan float and hire a virtual DJ and it will be just like Vegas, but without the regret. 

Make Disney park food at home

If you're not quite ready to actually take a trip to Walt Disney World for socially distanced rides and Star Wars masks, (and Disneyland hasn't reopened yet), then why not make some of your favorite park food at home. 

From the famous Dole Whip to the fried pickles from Main Street's Carnation Cafe to the 28-ingredient, family-sized Kitchen Sink Dessert sundae, Disney has dozens of fan favorite recipes on its Disney Parks Blog. 

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