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  • Summer Day Camp Themes

    My council has 6 summer camps for Cubs/Webelos and will be changing themes for all of them next year as they do every 3 years. What are some of the more unusual day camp themes?

    I'm familiar with the Old West, Knights of the Roundtable, Robin Hood, and similar traditional themes. We currently have a Jedi camp, Harry's Magical Fort (inspired by a popular book series), American Heroes, Australian Outback, Maui, & Waikiki.

    One of the better ideas introduced at this year's Jedi camp is a light saber training station. We got a beep ball (used by blind folks to play a version of softball), blind folded the boys, and they had to use the "Force" to connect their "saber" (foam noodle-covered dowel) to the "orbiting training droid". We attach the foam beeping ball to a string/stick, spin the Scout, and then the boy has to listen carefully to find the ball. It's actually a hoot to watch, too!

    What are some other creative camp themes?

  • #2
    Light saber training - how cool! Gotta remember that one!

    We just did 20,000 leagues under the sea, with ocean themed activities.

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    • #3
      How did you market your 20,000 Leagues program to leaders? Do you have problems attracting campers? Marketing is a concern for us so we try to tie into movies or other things that are currently of interest to the boys. What about you?

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      • #4
        We just completed our district day camp that was a pirate theme. The promotional info was basically a full-color brochure detailing time, dates, place, and costs of camp. Some activities were highlighted. Our boys (we had 5 from our Pack plus 2 leaders) went more for bb guns and archery than any theme. When I asked each one what he liked best, they just grinned big and said all of it. When asking what one activity they liked, it was either of the shooting sports. As to pirate themes: every boy had a hat, a nametag shaped like a sword (not something that will be repeated as the boys did duel with these tiny things!), eye patches, a hook like Captain Hook's (candy cane through a cup), a parot made of foam. Some leaders came along in full costume and walked the plank--the kids loved it.

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        • #5
          We've done many of the old standbys over the years. This year we did "The Clans of Scotland" as a theme. We have a great Scottish society in the area which holds a huge highland games every year and they provided us a lot of resources. Their support was one of the reasons we chose the theme.

          In the past, we've not done much marketing as we've been maxed-out for the facility we've used. This year we were at a new facility and have much more room, so we may do more marketing this year. In the past everything has gone to the pack leaders via the Jan. or Feb. roundtable. We mail packets to packs not in attendance. Still, it is highly dependent on the pack leaders to promote and register the boys, although there are a few things we can do to juice that process.

          If I were going to make any big improvement in promotions it would be to mail the registration packet directly to the Cub families. Our council does a big, glossy, full-color camp promotion mailing to everyone in the council in late winter. It is heavily weighted toward Boy Scout summer camp and, in my opinion, not very effective as a marketing tool for the day camps. Each district day camp gets one paragraph on the back. If we were just given the postage they spend on mailing that brochure to our Cubs, we could send the actual registration packet and a promotional piece targeting the Cubs and day camp. I think that would be more effective and less expensive than the fancy flyer the council produces.

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          • #6
            Twocubdad said "If I were going to make any big improvement in promotions it would be to mail the registration packet directly to the Cub families. Our council does a big, glossy, full-color camp promotion mailing to everyone in the council in late winter. It is heavily weighted toward Boy Scout summer camp and, in my opinion, not very effective as a marketing tool for the day camps. Each district day camp gets one paragraph on the back."

            That's interesting. We also do the full color brochure--though council sends one out for Cubs and one for Boy Scouts. This year there was some discussion about getting the packs to do more of the promotion for next year's camp rather than rely on the individual mailings to families. We had close to 140 Cubs, but we did not get many leaders. If the pack were more involved, the thinking is that the leaders would be easier to get. Also, in our pack, not one boy came as a result of the mailing. Each came because I e-mailed the den leaders and asked them to notify the families. They were actually rather surprised they had not recieved any other notice--but they *had* via mail.

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            • #7
              One contact, regardless of what it is, isn't going to be enough. We get our largest numbers of Cubs (and adult volunteers) from the packs with the leaders push camp over and over throughout the registration period. Unfortunately, there are a few units whose leaders don't attend Roundtable, don't get the information to the families and don't promote camp. The boys in these units are the ones who I feel like we are missing. A direct mailing to them may get around the lack of involvement by their pack leadership. But I certainly wouldn't try to replace the inter-pack promotions with a mailing.

              On the otherhand, I hear what you are saying about people who "didn't get the memo." All four of them? Being a camp director was a real eye-opener. I was amazing to me how many parents just don't pay attention to the stuff we send out. We had four or five Scouts who went to last year's camp location. We had one family who waited two hours at their CO for the bus to come (that Pack hasn't provided a bus in two years). Another kid showed up with no registration. His mom tried to tell us that her Pack had "lost" it, but when we pressed her on it, she whipped out a completed application and check. If she thought her son was properly registered, why did she have another set of forms with her? It makes me wonder how some people dress themselves in the morning!

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              • #8
                Day Camp is a lot of fun.
                Hard Work, but fun.
                Sad to say I didn't have any new or novel ideas during my term of four years.
                We had, Indians, Knights, Circus and The Zoo as themes.
                As for marketing, we made place mats that we gave to each pack to use at their Blue and Gold banquets.
                We also found that if we held the camp in June, as close to the start of the school vacation as possible, that we had a better turn out.
                I have to admit to being surprized at the number of parents that did attend.
                Strange thing was when I asked them if they did anything for their pack they said no.
                When I asked Why?
                They answered "No one ever asked."
                While I try not to interfere with any of our district programs. I do think that we are trying to do too much at day camp. We have to have a patch, then we have to have a T- Shirt, and we end up with a camp fee of $20.00.
                The Cub Scouts bring a bag lunch.
                The Staff are all volunteers.
                So what with so many other activities going on, it can be very expensive.
                We as a district also have our Cub Scout Olympics about this time (We use the high school track. So we have to wait till school is out)
                Again we have to have a patch and another T-Shirt, and it ends up costing $15.00.
                Add in the resident Cub Scout and Parent Son Camp. It ends up costing a whole lot.
                I was lucky, I only had one. The Cubmaster who now runs "My old pack" has four boys.
                This is just the District "Stuff" many of the packs go to baseball games and have sleepovers at submarines and the like.
                Please don't get me wrong, I know and understand that a quality program can cost a few bucks.
                But do we need all the T-Shirts?

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                • #9
                  T-shirts serve an important function of providing quick and easy identification of who belongs in camp and who doesn't. We use different colors for Scouts and leaders.

                  How long does your camp last? To me, $20 seems very reasonable -- make that dang cheap! Our camp is four days for Cubs, three days and a family overnighter for Webelos. Cost is $75. By far, the bulk of our money goes to programming. We offer discounts to the kids of volunteers and charge a nominal fee for the kids in the tot program. We get no support from the Council, and in fact pay a percentage of our gross to the council.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for all the ideas!

                    We have a really large Cub group in Salt Lake City. My camp alone will have 4,000 come through the camp in 44 days. We pair our camps together so that they go to my camp one day and another camp the next. For $33 per boy, the boys get a craft and a 9-2:30 program. We start & close with a ceremony in an amphitheater with round-robin stations in between.

                    We have volunteers pushing for a circus theme but we can't see how that would be much fun. We're afraid it would turn into Stupid Pet Tricks Camp or clown college. Without elephants & trapeze stunts meeting BSA standards and finding it difficult to tie in bb guns or archery, we ditched the idea.

                    Pirates have been banned by the council because they do not portray the Cub Scout ideals. We have toyed instead with a Lost Boys theme where Captain Hook would come in for a final dual in the closing ceremony just as Darth Vader & Darth Maul arrive for this year's dual with Jedi.

                    Our permanent camps have some structures to build around. Two have forts and one has an old Buccaneer-style ship, which would be perfect for the "Lost Boys". We don't know if kids today are fans of Peter Pan and worry the idea would flop if the movie this Thanksgiving doesn't succeed in theaters. The upside is that it should be on video during the big spring camp sign-up time.

                    How do you think a Super Heroes Training camp would do? We could work on the Crime Prevention patch, personal safety, personal fitness (obstacle course), teach that the brain is their best "weapon", and build off the various super hero movies in theaters over the next year. What are some opinions?

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                    • #11
                      I hear you. In fact, I hear it from, the day camp staff and the Cub Olympic Committee, and I never even asked them!!
                      It is very easy to become entrenched, in what ever part of the program we may be involved in.
                      We have a really nice chap on our board that can only see the high adventure program. Leave it to him and we would never spent any money on our camps, it would all go to what he thinks is important.
                      The Council is everyone.
                      Where does the money that comes from an event go. It ends up back in the program.
                      Ok, this week my pet peeve is T-shirts.
                      Maybe we need to look at one shirt does all.
                      Or do we need a patch for every event?
                      Do we want our Scouts to pick and chose what events they attend due to affordability?
                      We surely do not think that we are in some sort of competition with other events that are offered by the district or the council, do we?
                      If things were perfect wouldn't every boy/youth be able to attend everything ?
                      (I Meant this as an answer for Twocubdad.)
                      (This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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                      • #12
                        Tee shirts: must address this. We were in a public park for camp, and that meant others would be there at times. It was 150 acres, so we didn't use all of it, and we had no idea who else was about. As staff, I wore yellow; den chiefs wore green; the nurse wore red; the cubs were all in blue. All had the same design. If someone came to camp in something other than this, they stood out right away. There was a man with cameras photographing our cubs, and I immediately sent a Den Chief out (couldn't leave myself) to one of the leaders to find out who he was. It turns out he was invited, but had he not been, we needed to know who didn't belong. Our camp, with tee shirts and patches, costs $85 unless registration is done early, in which case the cost is $60. Sports camps for one week of half days is $80-$120, so our day camp is a very good cost.

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                        • #13
                          Patches: Eamonn, you asked if they are important. One boy that I'm aware of went to day camp and got a patch last year. He recruited my son to cubs by showing him the "cool patch from camping" that he got. My son wanted to have a chance to get one too (and one thing led to another, and he's now beginning his 2nd year of cubs). I noticed quite a few of the boys eyeing the patches that had been left out while beginning camp, and they couldn't wait to get one. IMO, yes, they do matter. To the boys, if not to us Oh, but we do not have a patch for every event--only for Day Camp and Resident Camp.(This message has been edited by Laurie)

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                          • #14
                            Plus they're so dang cheap. Even a fancy patch with 7 or 8 colors is only about a buck in quantity. And I do think they're popular with the boys. We've even started getting stock patches to give out at our pack events.

                            I have heard some mom's complain about the number of t-shirts. But the thought there is that by the time they've been a couple years, they have a drawer full. No one has suggested getting rid of the premimum, rather having something different such as a hat. I'm hesitant to do hats for Cubs, though, since they are supposed to wear only their official Cub hat.

                            We looked into camp cups, something sturdy (preferably metal) with a handle which will clip to your belt. Unfortunately, all the cups we found with clip handles were three times the cost of a t-shirt. Hey Bob White -- you're in that business, see what you can come up with.

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                            • #15
                              Caps--wouldn't work with our bunch. Good idea, but only if the boys would keep them on. Cups--I like that. We were really pushing the water with the boys, and if they could clip their cups on, that would be cool and functional.

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