Jason Schaitz shares 20 tips for coordinating successful camp activities.
Creating and coordinating fun and engaging activities is why your participants attend camp and keep coming back. It is important that you thoroughly plan out activities, train staff and put the effort needed into your activities to make them successful. Do research on new activities each camp and create or build up activity guides as a reference for staff so you don’t end up repeating the same things over and over, causing your campers to get bored or voluntarily sit out.
Here are 20 tips for coordinating successful camp activities:
1. Always be supervising. Safety is your number one priority. Know the group count at all times and ensure the play area and game are safe before starting.
2. Plan out your games for the day or week. Don’t try to “wing it.” Be ready to adapt to change. Always have a game or two in your back pocket in case the activity isn’t working or ends faster than expected. If you fail to plan you plan to fail.
3. Have enough activities in hand to last the entire session. Avoid any down time, other than water breaks, snacks and meals.
4. Keep rules and verbal instructions to a minimum to avoid boredom and confusion. Most campers will learn best by watching and then doing.
5. Get involved and stay engaged. The kids love it if you are playing, refereeing or are in any way part of the game. Avoid being a spectator or sideliner; get involved and play as many games as you’re comfortable with. Whatever you have the kids do, you can do.
6. Switch it up. Add variations and change rules as you go to keep it fresh. Avoid playing the same games over and over again.
7. Look for signs of “enough” and then introduce a new game before interest begins to wane.
8. Keep players in the game by avoiding rules that permanently eliminate campers. Try not to have kids sit out for more than five minutes. For games like dodgeball, call “Jail Break” after a few minutes and let everyone back in the game. You never have to have a true winner; the kids just want to play.
9. Start an activity or session that brings the whole group together.
10. Make sure to work in ice breakers and team building activities to create a better group atmosphere with your campers.
11. Take into account the amount of kids required, age appropriate, play space and time it takes when choosing an activity.
12. Alternate between active and quiet activities to allow kids to have a break and wind down.
13. Start the day upbeat and with active games. This will get the kids excited for the day ahead. End with something quiet to let the kids wind down before pick up.
14. If there are teams needed, avoid a situation where people are picked. Use creative ways of forming teams. Mix teams up so campers get to play with different kids every time. Try to avoid having all your most athletic kids on one team for active games.
15. If your groups are co-ed then shoot for a 50/50 split most of the time. For less active games, the kids may enjoy boys versus girls or 4th grade versus 5th grade on occasion.
16. Have equipment on site before beginning to avoid participants’ boredom and down time while you have to find equipment and then set up.
17. Always look ahead. Once an activity has started, start to think about what needs to be done to clean up and get to the next activity quick. Get the campers in the habit of cleaning their play space up after the activity and lining up to get ready for what’s next.
18. Transitions, transitions, transitions. Make sure to have a smooth transition from one activity to the next to avoid down time and bored campers. Transitions are extremely important to have a smooth and seamless day.
19. Change it up. Encourage players to make creative alterations within the activities or try homemade versions. Add rules on occasion to spice up the activity.
20. Get feedback from your campers. Not every game will be a hit but try everything at least once. You never know what will stick.
Next week in Part Two, gain 20 more tips to take your activities to the next level.
For more resources on camper rewards programs, visit The Summer Camp Source website.