Summer means camps! These camps are fun for child care centers and kids alike. They teach campers new skills, positive values and instill 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 and help you start planning for next summer!
1. Great Themes
Choosing the right theme for camp can be difficult. Choosing one theme per week is one option. It’s a great organizational tool that helps with planning and gets your campers excited as well.
When you are thinking about what themes to include in your camp, try to pick ones that will be attractive to the most people. Be aware of age appropriateness – themes like the movie “Frozen” might not have as wide an appeal as a broader theme such as superheroes.
2. Hire the Right People
Having the right staff for your summer camp is key! This might be the most important ingredient in creating 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.
3. Plan Ahead
Camp days can be long and tiring depending on the type of program you are running. Do the majority of the activity planning ahead of time. Consider starting planning in May for your summer camp and try to get all the planning completed before the first day of camp.
Planning ahead 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. When planning field trips, think outside of the box. It is summer, so anything can work! Some ideas include going to a park, local lake, fire station, library, movie theater or even to the mall.
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 off regularly!
This might look like having a weekly or daily huddle. These give you time to regroup with your team, share updates or issues as well as to 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 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 that person, find out what he or she loves and encourage that person to do more of their favorite activities.
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 have some fun, and not to be too strict or solemn. Kids just want to let loose and have a blast. If your staff can’t do that, it’s time to find new team members.
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 routine with fun, you’ll make camp fun for campers and staff alike and create a program that will be the envy of all!
Organization is key
Summer camp is such a great time to host activities you didn’t do throughout the traditional school year, so get out of your center and enjoy yourself!
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.
A helpful way to stay organized in the areas of parent engagement, online registration and invoicing is by using all-in-one child care management software.
Procare Solutions can give you the tools you need to lighten your load, add professionalism to your program, and help you focus on motivating staff and caring for campers.
With the parent-managed calendar through SchoolCare Works, parents can choose what days they want their kids to attend and the software handles scheduling so you don’t have to. The feature helped the Denver and Jefferson County school districts effectively manage their camps this summer.
Parents can keep up with what fun their little campers are having through Procare’s Parent Engagement app.
Start planning your summer camp today, whether it’s a month away or for next year, and make memories for campers and staff that will last a lifetime!
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