6 Things You Need to Have for a Successful Summer Camp
Who remembers summer camp as a kid? I will never forget the camps I attended. I would spend all year looking forward to it. The horseback riding, the games, the teachers, and the great outdoors. Summer camp is not only a lot of fun, but can also instill young people with new skills, positive values, and confidence in their abilities.
Summer camp can be such a great program for your center, but you have to be intentional about your purpose and mission and how you hope to accomplish it. Whether you’ve run a camp every summer for the last 20 years or this is your first summer these six tips will help you run your best program this summer!
1. Great Themes
Choosing the right theme for camp can be difficult. At the camp I led we would choose one theme per week. What I loved was that this was not only a great organizational tool that helped with our planning, but also got our campers excited as well.
When you are thinking about what themes to include in your camp this year, try to pick ones that will be attractive to the most people. If your theme caters to boys, you won’t get girls excited to attend, and vice versa. Also be aware of age appropriateness - themes like Frozen might not have as wide an appeal themes like hollywood or superheroes.
2. Hire the Right People
Having the right staff for your summer camp is key! This might even be the most important ingredient in having a great summer camp. Hiring people who are energetic, passionate, and fun will promote the same attitudes in campers. Summer camp is all about being silly, singing funny songs, and playing games. Make sure that your team is willing to play, smile, and run around while encouraging and supporting their campers to do the same.
Every year I explained to my team that their main job was just to have fun, and who doesn’t want to do that? If they were having fun then the kids would feel that and they in turn would have a blast!!
3. Plan Ahead
Camp days can be long and tiring depending on the type of program you are running. If possible I suggest doing the majority of the activity planning ahead of time. We would start planning in May for summer camp and try to get all the planning completed before the first day of camp.
The reason to plan ahead is it allows your team to stay focused on the children and the actual activities rather than worrying about what is going to happen next week. When it’s all planned out and the materials are purchased, everything else will go much more smoothly.
4. Leave the Center
Field trips are essential for a great summer camp experience. At our center we left once a week for a field trip. It was the day that all the kids were looking forward to each week.
When planning field trips, think outside of the box. It is summer so anything can work. We went to the park, local lake, fire station, library, movie theater and even to the mall. Just getting outside your building is great for both the staff and the kids.
5. Get Your Team excited!
The energy of your team will decide what type of camp you run. Energy is the fuel of your summer camp machine, so be sure to top it up regularly!
This might look like having a weekly or daily huddle. These give you time to regroup with your team, share updates or issues, and encourage them to keep having fun for the remainder of the week. It could also include slipping coffee gift cards into the mailbox of staff who have shown the energy you want to see. Be creative. Give incentives. Lead by example. It all starts at the top and moves it’s way down, so model the type of energy you want your team to have!
6. Have Fun
This seems so obvious it’s almost silly, but it really is a big deal. Make sure that both your team and the children are having fun. If someone isn’t having fun, examine why. Get to know them, find out what they love, and encourage them to do more of that. Draw in campers on the outside and give them a little extra love and encouragement. Camp should be fun for everyone, so don’t leave anyone behind!
Summer camp is the time to let loose and have some fun, not to be too strict or solemn. Especially in these times, children just want to let loose and have a blast. If your staff can’t do that, it’s time to find new team members. I promise you fun is the key to having a great summer camp so even if you have down time or slow parts of the week - be creative to make it more fun. By infusing your day-to-day with fun you’ll make camp fun for campers and staff alike and create a program that will be the envy of all!
Make this summer great by hosting an amazing summer camp at your child care center! Summer camp is such a great time to plan some things you didn’t do throughout the year, so get out of your center and have a blast!
Remember that fun can be achieved by being organized and intentional - plan ahead with great themes and activities, take day trips to spice things up, hire the right people, and motivate them to make camp the best experience it can be. Parent engagement, online registration, and invoicing for camp can be streamlined by using all-in-one childcare management software to lighten your load, add professionalism to your program, and help you focus on motivating staff and caring for campers.
Start planning your summer camp today and make memories for campers and staff that will last a lifetime!
Happy Camp Planning!