15 DOs & DONTs of Summer Camp

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Next week is summer camp for our Children’s Ministry. The 5th & 6th Graders we take to this experience always get stocked about camp. As we’re putting the finishing touches on this year’s camp I thought I’d jot down some DOs and DONTS on what makes camp something our kids really look forward to:

1. DO promote camp early.
Most camps aren’t cheap. Ours isn’t. As soon as you’ve nailed down the dates let parents know right away so they can block that time off on their calendar and start saving money.

2. DON’T let just anyone be a counselor.
It takes a special kind of person to spend 5+ full days with a group of kids. Don’t settle on someone just because you need more leaders. Make sure they’re the right kind of person.

3. DO provide training for your counselors.
Spend time before camp clarifying for your leaders what a week at camp will look like, what the rules are, and your expectations of them. Also give them some time to get to know the other counselors going with them.

4. DON’T leave parents in the dark.
Have a meeting where parents can hear from you what camp’s all about, what they need to have ready, who to contact, and get their questions answered. This will ease the tension they’ll have about being separated from their kids for a whole week.

5. DO provide scholarships.
As much as your church and camp are able give families who are strapped for cash a way to get some financial aid do it. You won’t be able to help everyone but you will be able to help someone.

6. DON’T open camp up for young kids.
Kids younger than 5th grade probably won’t make it through a week of camp. Make camp awesome for your older kids but hold off on letting younger kids go. It may frustrate them a little but it’ll give them something to look forward to later.

7. DO put everything online.
Cost, date, times, registration forms, and contact info should be up on your church’s website. Make it super easy for parents to access these resources anytime, anywhere.

8. DON’T do camp without a clear purpose.
It’s never a good idea to do anything without a good why. Before you plan anything else about camp identify what the purpose of camp is, who it’s for, and how camp will meet those objectives.

9. DO have a point person.
There should be more than one person helping to make camp happen but there should be only one leader. Identify that person early and make sure they have everything they need to make camp amazing.

10. DON’T forget to thank everyone after camp.
Lots of work goes into camp. After you’ve spent some time recouping from camp, schedule some time to thank everyone who helped to make camp happen. This’ll help make next year’s camp great.

11. DO encourage parents to write notes to their kids.
Kids love getting mail, especially at camp. Give parents the camp address and some postcards. Encourage them to write a few notes to their kids and mail them to the camp a week ahead of time so it gets to their kids when they’re there.

12. DON’T just take the bus.
Take a couple of other cars too. You don’t want to be stranded at camp without any wheels in an emergency. Having some cars there also gives you and your counselors a way to take a short break from camp to rest and recharge.

13. DO plan on having spiritual talks.
Plan on having your counselors find out where their kids are spiritually and offering some ways to help them take the next step in their faith. Many kids will make life-changing decisions at camp, but only if their counselors take the time to talk to them and listen.

14. DON’T forget the first aid kit.
Camp will undoubtedly have a nurse and first aid station but your bus might now. Take something for the trip up. A first aid kit is also good for long hikes or things that crop up in between activities.

15. DO treat your leaders to something special.
Bring extra snacks and goodies for your leaders. Pay for meals and treats away from and at camp. Also think about some kind of souvenir or other take-away to help them remember their time at camp.

What would you add to this list? Leave a comment below.

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