How to Make Happy Campers
Happy Campers Make the Week Great!
Anytime you have a gathering of children, you're going to have drama and upset, but there are tricks to keep everyone happy. Having 50 or even 100 or more kids for a whole week or longer at summer camp can prove to be challenging. These simple tricks will add to a fun, exciting week.
If you are volunteering or working as staff at a camp, consider implementing these ideas to keep your campers happy. If you are a parent of a child going off to camp, show these ideas to the director or staff. They will thank you for helping to make their week great.
Make Friends with Yarn
Welcome Bracelets: For this activity, the campers are given wrist-sized pieces of yarn. Each day is a different color. They tie these pieces of yarn on other peoples’ wrists. The bracelets mean:
Monday – Orange – “I’m glad you’re here. Orange you?”
Tuesday – Yellow – “You make my day brighter.”
Wednesday – Red – “I’m red-y to have fun with you.”
Thursday – Purple – “Camp is grape with you.”
Friday – Green – “Our friendship is growing.”
Saturday – “I’ll be blue to leave you.”
These bracelets serve 3 purposes -
1. They make the campers feel special.
2. They help the campers approach and speak to each other.
3. They make it obvious to the staff if there is a camper who is not interacting with others.
News from Home Helps
Mail Call: Mail from home is always fun to receive. Encourage the parents of your campers to send mail ahead of time so it is sure to get there when the kids are there. Have them indicate something the camper has to do before receiving the mail. (For example, “In order to receive this mail, John must hop around the mess hall on one foot.”)
Who Loves You?
Love Notes: At the beginning of the week, have each child and staff member decorate a paper bag with his/her name on it. Hang the bags around the mess hall. Then, through the week, have a table set up with paper and markers available so other campers can write notes to put in their “mailboxes.” Designate a staff member (or a few) to occasionally check the bags and make sure everyone is getting something. While this is a great idea, it can lead to a stronger feeling of isolation if someone gets left out.
No Wednesday Water Works
Wash Away Weepy Wednesday: Traditionally, Wednesday is the day of homesickness at camp. You are half-way through the week, and the kids are tired and starting to miss their parents. Camp nurses report that they see more tears on Wednesdays than any other day of the week. To avoid the Weepy Wednesday phenomenon, try these tricks -
1. Make it a busy day. Don’t allow there to be any sitting around time on Wednesday. Busy bodies mean busy minds. If campers are busy, they aren’t thinking about home.
2. Make it Water Wednesday instead. Depending on your camp’s budget, bring in inflatable water slides. Use slip and slides for fun. Have a water balloon fight. Fill the mud pit with water. Make Wednesday a wet and wacky day.
3. Make bedtime earlier on Wednesday. If bedtime is normally 10:00 at your camp, move it to 9:00 on Wednesday. Then, set the wake-up time for one hour later on Thursday. Many kids become more and more weepy as they get more and more tired. If you can get them to bed before the crying begins, they’ll feel better and happier on Thursday.