It’s the night before the campers arrive! You’ve spent the last few months planning like crazy for this. You have session plans and event ideas coming out of your ears, and more ideas than you can count for cool events and activities you want to lead. Now the campers are arriving, and you’re excited . . . and a little nervous too! After working so hard to prepare for this summer, how do you guarantee success and ensure a memorable, fun-filled summer for everyone?
The clue is in the question. Keep the focus on the fun! Here are some top tips and ideas for bringing the fun this summer!
Let’s be honest—camp is all about fun, and every day can be a party! Find ways to weave fun into daily camp rituals and routines. For example:
Create a silly call-and-response greeting that you share with your cast or the campers that come to your sessions, then see if you can get them to use it outside of the sessions: in the dining hall, on the relay race course, wherever they are. Alternatively you could have each group you work with come up with their own unique greeting call that they use to greet other groups when they see them!
Have a unique joke or riddle every day, and introduce it to campers at the start of each session you lead. You can even issue a challenge to them to find you and collect the “joke/riddle of the day” on days when you don’t have a session with them, and offer a prize for the camper that collects the most jokes from you throughout the summer!
Create theme days, and encourage everyone to dress up! Day camps usually build in theme days (so in this case your job might be to just participate and enjoy!) but sleepaway camps may not have planned for them. In that case, ask your director in advance if you can plan 3-4 camp-wide theme days throughout the summer, with themes such as Love, Peace, and the 60’s, Pajama Day, or Disney-tastic. It may not seem like a lot, but a Crazy Hair Day can really brighten up the mid-session blahs.
Special events and performances are tons of fun while they’re happening, but why restrict the fun to the moment they start? Stretch out the excitement and pump the anticipation with a huge Hype-Building Campaign—which in itself can be almost as fun as the event itself! Here are a few ways to get started!
Make Verbal Announcements. Ask the camp directors if you can plug your event during the morning line-up or at lunch—or even during a staff meeting, to make sure that everyone on the supervisory level knows about it. And get creative—is there a silly skit or fun gimmick that you can use to get everyone’s attention (and make them laugh?)
Put up Posters! Create signage for the event and put them up around the camp. If you’re directing a show and the participants have time, get them to help you create the posters—this will also increase their investment level! If you’re hosting a special evening activity, see if you can get a specific group to help you: you can tell them they’re officially on your “marketing team,” which will make them feel extra special. And speaking of advertising . . .
Create a Marketing Team. Build the hype from within by creating a dedicated camper marketing team. This is a great way to sew seeds of excitement on a grassroots level. If you’re directing Triple Threat or another production, your cast is a great start—although you might have plenty of other campers who would love to do “PR” for the camp theater department!
At the end of the day, the best way to bring the fun to camp is to have fun yourself! Make sure you’re taking the time to relax and enjoy your own camp experience. After all, this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to build community and make special memories together, and you don’t want to miss out because you’re stressed out about doing everything perfectly. If you’ve prepared, you’ll be fine.
Focus on the fun. Everything else will fall into place.