Summer Camp: What works and doesn't work

This time next week I am going to be at our 14th kids camp. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that it’s been that many. I thought what might be helpful and cathartic would be to discuss what has worked and not worked for us over the years. Hopefully it may help some of you out there.

What doesn’t work:

Allowing pranks – The first year I was sort of non-committal on the issue of camp pranks. Pranks are a part of camp, right? Well the first year, a mom convinced one of her boys to play a prank on his fellow boy campers. This did not sit well with the boys and men counselors. I ended up stopping a potential kidmin Apocalypse, where counselors were angry with counselors, and kids were scared. I now have a VERY strict “pull a prank and go home” policy. What I found was that for most kids coming to kids camp, it’s their first experience being away from home. I don’t want kids to have to fear a prank and have a bad experience that may even keep them from going to our youth camp.

Using youth group games – The first year we did camp we did all youth group games and I didn’t modify the rules AND I allowed the counselors to play. Both were big mistakes. I still to this day remember seeing counselors swinging socks filled with flour and hitting kids; the flour started out soft, but the more the socks were swung around the more cement like those socks became. Needless to say we now modify the rules to youth group games AND counselors don’t play games with kids.

Allowing kids to sing on the bus – Ok. Maybe this is just a personal thing for me.  I can’t take 40 kids singing “The song that never ends” for 2 hours straight. I have a strict “no songs on the bus” policy.

These are just a few things that I have learned the hard way. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about what does work, then on Wednesday I want to give you a few of the resources we use to pull off camp every year.

What about you what hasn’t worked for you at camp?

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