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Summer day camp Ideas needed

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I would suggest a station including a rack, iron maiden and a variety of other Middle Ages torture devices. I bet that by the end of camp you will be strapping your Field Director to them!


You have got to get some experienced help! What happened to the old camp director? Or is this a first year camp? (And if it is, four weeks at three sites is an unbelievable first bite.)


Where are your camps held? If they aren't on BSA property, you have a tremendous amount of work in front of you. For example, you have to have a letter from a local hospital or urgent care facility stating that they will accept patients from your camp; you have to have a similar letter from the local fire department; you have to have the drinking water at the facility tested or documentation showing that it is from a municipal source. All this relates to the accredidation process and can be found in the Camp Standards which your Field Director should have given you months ago. Actually, you and your Field Director should have used the Camp Standards form to conduct pre-inspections at all three sites weeks ago.


I fear for you. I was a camp director for five years, have served on the faculty at camp school and now do day camp inspections for our council. If you like, please send me a private message and I'll be glad to help however I may.

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Definitely get with the former Camp Director to get some direction.


Do you have a budget from your Council?


You will need to try to get as much of your supplies as possible donated to the Council.


Do you have a qualified First Aider for each site? You will also need first aid supplies for each site.


Will you need to rent tables, chairs, or shelters? Or will they be provided by the facilities?


You will need at least 1 shelter for the archery folks (and hay bales and caution tape). You will also need a secure location for them to be able to lock up the equipment every night.


Is there a secure location at each site to store the other camp supplies?


Do you have any clue as to how many boys you have to plan for? Has your council been taking registrations, or are they only starting now that you have signed on?


What provisions have been made, if any, for canceling some camps due to low registrations? I can see that there might be a problem with the end of June camps if registrations are just starting now. Many units have almost shut down their regular school year meetings by now.


Has your council advertised for staff volunteers? You will need a LOT for all of those camps.


Will there be a trading post at each camp? You will need a Scout Shop employee, or council employee, to staff them.


What levels of Scouts will you have? If you have Tigers thru Webelos, you will need to structure your program to have different age appropriate activities for all levels.


You need to have both active and passive activities planned.


You will need to have a rotation schedule for each location showing what activities are happening at what time on what days.


What are you doing for food? If you are serving anything more than snacks you will most likely need to have a Foodservice Certified person at each location.


Make sure your activities at least slightly follow the theme. Make up cool theme related names for every activity.


You will need to have theme based decorations for each location.


If you are including a patch and a camp t-shirt, you should be designing them and looking for a BSA approved vendor NOW! You need to give your vendor enough lead time to be able to create a sample of each to be approved by your council - BEFORE - creating the hundreds you will need for camp. BTW - t-shirt vendors are VERY busy at this time of year doing shirts for graduating classes, park districts and other summer camps, so you really need to get moving on this ASAP.


As 2cubdad stated you will need to line up police/fire/hospital coverage for each location. You will also need to find out what the local ordinances are for each location. Don't forget about garbage pick-up.


Good Luck. This is an enormous undertaking for just 2 people to pull together in only FIVE weeks. I sure hope your council staff are lending a BIG hand!


(This message has been edited by ScoutNut)

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Two specific comments, from experience:


"What levels of Scouts will you have? If you have Tigers thru Webelos, you will need to structure your program to have different age appropriate activities for all levels."


If the activity can be tied off to the advancement programs for each age, and many can, there are few age-appropriate activities for a 10 year old that are not doable downwards to a 7 year old. This is all the more so for the new Tiger, since it should be a 1/1 adult-youth ratio for them!


Will there be a trading post at each camp? You will need a Scout Shop employee, or council employee, to staff them.


Our council does quite well with volunteers running the Day Camp trading post. The kicker is the lead volunteer and the staff Professional do 100% inventory of stuff as it arrives, and carefully monitor sales as the camp progresses.


I agree with you, though, it feels from this remove that Daycampcord is being set up by her Council for failure. :(



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We have gotten together with the former day camp cord We have been working on this non stop for 3 weeks now. We have been taking reg since Feb. We do have the paper work already from the fire, hospitals, police, and drs in the area, we do have shelter, we have tigers up to weblos. We have a first aider for each site, actually even better a nurse at some sites. We are making arrangements for storage. We have secured a tent for the archery. We have a vender for the shirts and my FD has made decisions on the shirts and patches. I will have a Trading post. We are in the works as to what we will purchase. The only food we will have is snacks for the tot lot every thing else is to be brought from home for the scouters. We have tons of Vol and we started advertising for more. Our weeks seem to be filling up very nice. I really dont think We deserve to be "picked on" I came to this site to ask for help not to be put down. I was hoping to get a few ideas here and there. I think The director and I have worked very hard on this and we have been at this non stop since we took this task on. As I have said before this was advertised position but NO One stepped up to take this position and I learned about it a week before I signed on. I am not asking for pity or to be rediculed. I will make sure this is the best day camp as we can provide for what we have to work with. I am hoping to expand our horizions in the future. As I said this is a 4 week program not at one time we can have everything we need and as week one finishes if we find things didnt work we can fine tune them for the next week. Thanks for all your comments and suggestions. If any one has anymore suggetions please feel free to list them here.



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No intent to disparage or ridicule you whatsoever. But from the limited info you posted, it sure sounded to some of us with day camp experience that you were being fed to the wolves (tigers, bears and Webelos, too, I suppose.)


That you have the former camp director helping is a major assest and it sounds like they are helping you with the administrative stuff. Great!


As to your original question about programming, the idea of contacting the local SCA is a good one. Our Webelos camp several years used a knights theme and had those guys come out run a fencing station. I think we did a camp-wide search for the Holy Grail in which the dens were given clues to try and find what ever gizmo the grail was. Costumes were good too. Lots of aluminum foil went into creating suits of armor.


Generally speaking though, don't get overwhelmed with the theme. Most of what you are going to do remains the same regardless of theme. Maybe the archery range becomes the "Long Bow Tournament" but it's still archery. We always joked that regardless of the theme of the camp, if we ever dropped archery, BBs, canoeing or fishing that we would all be skinned.

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If you are having a nature station, see if you can find someone who is knowledgable in the use of herbs and plants and can explain medieval medicine and some of the misconceptions. The right person can make this really interesting.

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Forgot to mention, I was thrown to the proverbial wolves also as a day camp director. I had from March to June to plan. Attended camp school the 1st weekend of June and camp was 3 weeks later. PM did not attend camp school which made for some interesting conversations over proper procedures. Also got a new DE at the start of camp (FD swore the new DE wouldn't be thrown to the wolves). We all survived quite well.


One thing you can never have too much of is ideas in case it rains. If you can, have each of your station leaders have backup plans, it makes it easier. Also, be very familiar with the parking at the site of your camps. Decide ahead of time how pickup and drop off will work on a daily basis, and how to handle it if it severely storms and you have to dismiss camp early. And, as camp director, it is your decision when it is imperative to suspend activities and get the scouts undercover. Hopefully, you will have good weather!


The best advice I can give you as a director is to look at your plans and activities and (I know this sounds negative) think of every thing that can go wrong and try to have a plan b,c,d. There's a reason the Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared!" If you have any questions, you can email me privately. Good Luck!!!!

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The additional information you've given us about leadership structure is a major relief. Thank you, we can only go on what we read here.


I've worked as a program staffer both cooking and wood craft. In both cases, I built up a 5 year rotation of projects. The youth used the same techniques each year, but the product was different:


- Wood:

-- Stepstool

-- Toolbox

-- Birdhouse

-- Windvane & "anemometer" (propeller indicated relative speed/force)

-- Picture frame


- Cooking

-- Biscuit on a stick & Dutch Oven Dump Cake

-- 'Smores and hot dogs from the grill (caution... sugar highs!!)

-- Foil dinners

-- Hobo stews (caution ... brown meat in advance)

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Here are a few program ideas from my days on the staff of a Cub resident camp:


* Cardboard castles. We had a never-ending supply of Sysco, etc., corrugated boxes that leaders cut and kids flattened out, taped up and drew/painted on to make a gigantic castle. Each den that visited the area added on and made their own contribution. If it rained, we propped it up the best we could and tore it down between program weeks so the next group could start anew.


* Graffiti. Get a big piece of spare fencing - tall, with no holes between the fenceposts - paint it white, then prop it up and give the Cubs paint of all colors. They'll have a blast. Plus it looks like a castle.


* Popsicle-stick castles. A handicrafts type of activity that never gets old. Display pictures of castles for ideas (David Macaulay's book, Castle, is an excellent resource) and make sure your handicrafts staff is energetic and excited so you're not just handing the kids a bunch of pieces of wood and tubes of glue for busy work. Even the littlest Cubs know when the program's lousy, and they'll let their parents know in the loudest possible terms. Some dens built really elaborate constructs and then chose to burn them at the closing campfire; others took them home and displayed them.


* Costumes. Give each kid the opportunity to make some sort of costume piece - milk jug helmets, cardboard swords & shields, "chainmail" out of six-pack rings, etc. (A great chance to teach a basic recycling lesson!) Make sure your staff dresses up, too.


* Set up a running storyline. Have King Arthur visit and parade around with his knights - not necessarily the camp director, but a staffer who's a good actor and can stay in character. You say Excalibur has gone missing? Well, then he needs the Cubs' help to search for it! etc. etc.


* Look at the requirements. Use the lessons of chivalry to teach community and civic responsibility - compare knights to firefighters, policemen, etc. Talk about how knights were always ready to ride out, and Cubs need to be prepared in other ways by knowing first aid, stop-drop-and-roll, tie in sportsmanship and fitness, etc. Keep it going with a steady, entertaining patter and keep it active - don't let them sit down for very long. If you get boring, you lose the kids.


* Coats of arms. Don't get too deep into the extremely complicated rules of heraldry, but you can do a lot with tracing paper and photocopied examples. There's a company called Dover that puts out a lot of activity-style books, including one with tons of heraldric symbols. Have the Cubs pick out their favorites and make a coat of arms.


* Ask your staffers and volunteers for special skills to keep the theme alive all the time. Any jugglers? Clap a jouncy hat on their head and they're a walk-around juggler. Someone play an acoustic guitar? They can be a traveling minstrel.


With regard to another suggestion, I'd be careful about teaching too much about herbs and plants and things unless you have a professional environmental educator who sticks to the basics. Kids can easily confuse something helpful or edible for something harmful, and don't always listen to the cautionary tales.


One final bit of advice: Since your theme is knights/middle ages/etc., establish and enforce a very firm and clear NO SWORDFIGHTING rule at the outset. Otherwise you'll end up with some thwacked heads or worse.

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talk to

the ren fair(Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair) people if your in east part of pa no telling with they may help with


medieval LARP in the area


a falconer you may not want to have them hunt a large hawk/eagle. they can take down rabbits, ground hogs, small deer, wolfs, etc. a mouse is less likely to freak out people.



have a few Monty Python and the holy grail "goofy knights" type skits


nothing on herbs to be safe.


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I'm in my third year as a day camp director, and we did Cubs in Shining Armor as a theme last year. Here are things that worked well for us:


A Knight's Tournament: We had tilt-board jousting (see How To Book); a game where two Scouts grasp a stave and try to touch an end to the ground (one end for each Scout) (also in How To Book, I think); and took baseball helmets with face cages, stuck some velcro on top and attached a plastic ball with velcro to it, then gave them swim noodles for a sword fight (knock off the ball to win).


Our craft director found some medieval designs like fish, eagles, lions, etc. and had them create banners by tracing with markers on fabric with a dowel along the top. She also recycled the designs and had them trace them on to blank white kites as well.


Check out the monthly themes that have used knights in the past. scoutingthenet.com has a great listing along with cross-references. Baloo's Bugle is another good place to look. We used a lot of those resources to have a themed-game station.


Outside entertainment that's been a big hit included the fire department bringing in a junked car (not wrecked) and having them do a jaws of life demonstration (rip off doors, peel off roof), the local SWAT team (today's knights!) dressing the camp director up in all their armor and talking about their work, and a storyteller from the local storytelling guild who had a couple of stories that fit in with the theme.

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Here is a good place for crafts- better than Oriental Trading compay . s&S Worldwide (sswwide.com) Gives you everythign you need to amke an item(and plenty of it) and if it doe s not will tell you upfront. Also give approx time to make itmes and age ranges.

Also I did permanent sand castles at daughters camporee. It is super simple- if a little messy. (go to ehow.com) Just search for Permanent sand castels and this is the easiest recipe:

sand, cornstarch, water, Exact amounts are given. I reduced the proportions and found out it was like a 1:2:3 ratio or similar and then just used scoops- 1 of cornstarch, 2 sand, 2 (or 3 water- forget exactly- but didn't really need actaul measure cups, just the correct proprtion of each).

You need to mix in a small pot( got 25 from dollar store). And heat and stir and stir and stir until it starts to get tacky. You take from heat (adult does the heating - kids just put a scoop or two of ingredients in pan). Plop on paper plate and wait a minute until cools- then they design away. Use "molds" - yogurt cups or any small cylindrcal container (hey recycling!!) or theirhands to make the castle . Add beads, shells, wahtever- or small toothpick "flag"?. After a few hours (obvoiously they leave until end of day or overnight), You have a sandcastle for life. I still have a couple from 7 yrs ago.

You need a couple of burners and adutls to help heat and scoop and then to scrape out pots otherwise after a while they become solid w/ sand!! Of course some kids do a blop and taek 2 mins others aren't done after 1/2 hour. Those done early help clean up and set up for next group. had about 50 mins for my center.

I did this w/ girls ages 5 to 10. They all loved it. I've done w/ my son who loves it just as well!!

Get sand from home depot or similar store in bulk (do a rough estimate of how many kids x the recipe). Large corn starch from whole sale club. Bgas of beads and shells to decorate!!

i had approx 90-100 girls all day? (other areas did not plan their events as well so I got overflow from centers that had run out of supplies)


BTY- where are from in pa?? I'm in CCC council. They have 4 distrcits and run 4 camps and 1 webelos. all differnet weeks in each distrcit. My son went to 2 diff last year. Had the same them but diff experinces completely. Assign a volunteer to be in charge of a station and planning their week - and then bring to you for apporval.

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Several good ideas have been presented ... HOWEVER ....


With regard to the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) ... folks who run around in randomly self-made body armour and swords (made from everything from chain to garbage cans) ... one needs to be careful ... these are mostly more robust kids and young adults who are college students ... and who often have pretty much free for all group "combat" fights in parks and woods ... and it is NOT unusual for folks to come away bruised and the occassional more serious injury is not unknown when some of the home made combat gear fails and injures themselves or someone else ... (a poke in the neck with a pvc pipe that just lost its padding can be serious) ... ergo they are a GREAT place for ideas, but I stongly recommend to leave out the COMBAT games that are their hallmark ... in most of the groups.


There are many things we no longer do in scouting ... when I was a kid our Scoutmaster thought it fine to allow us to don eye protection and mouth protectors and have combat in the woods with actual bb guns ... he brought the tweezers, antibiotic, and bandaids ... for picking out the bbs from beneath our skin and patching the holes ... and of course, the parents laughed when johnny (or who-ever) came back with some holes ... and said "teach you to keep your ass down next time" - or - "shoot him first next time - ok?". That kind of reckless (though fun) scouting is long gone ...


Combat games with homemade weapons and armor that could fail and maim or kill is probably an even worse idea than the bb guns were, by far.


SO mine the SCA for "DECOR" ideas but leave out the "COMBAT" ... OK?



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In general, the best way to do scouting is to remember it always has to BE FUN and SIMPLE ... every activity needs to result in SUCCESS and has to be FUN ...


KISMIF is a good acrynomn to remember ... KEEP IT SIMPLE - MAKE IT FUN


I might add to that that as a program director, scoutmaster, trainer ... or any of the true planning and leadership roles ... your goal is to slip in INCREMENTAL and CONTINUOUS successes and achievements ... and provide reminders of SCOUT VALUES ... in choices as you engage the kids to take control and self actualize increasingly ... consistent with their increasing skills and judgement and maturity ...




Is preferable to sit down lectures or learning, no matter how well done.


If you have an academic super-geek to teach the kids, - say silva-culture (tree growing) ... try to get the lecturer and the kids together in the forest or on-site somewhere so that they experience the learning by DOING ..


Even if you can not afford the time or investment to do a field trip, it is best to have something active for them to do ... games identifying trees or cones or parts, rewards, badges to earn, immediate recognition for success, etc. ... not passive lectures ...


We had a lecture in which everyone who showed up for the meeting got a small aquarium, and everyone who correctly identified the parts of a fish got one for the aquarium, and so on ... some kids went home with LOTS of fish in their aquarium, some with a few, but everyone learned, everyone participated, everyone succeeded ...




After the event, before everyone went home, everyone got a chance to say (the scouts), how they would improve it NEXT year ...


We then elicited volunteers - scouts and parents - to accept responsibility for it for the next year event ... thus giving a plus for scout retention, making the load easier on the next year adult leadership (a responsility already accepted for an event).


While you have excited parents and kids, never pass up a chance for both feedback and for converting that entheusiasm into involvments and committments on their part.


Do this regularly and your next year can become a "slam dunk" instead of a "who-dun-it"!


As you are experiencing, it is so much nicer if the fella before ya left you with a "self running organization" ... so you dont have to "figure it all out" the first time you step up to leadership roles.


Leave a legacy for your successor that is self running ...


As SMALL roles of adults who that they will WANT to do more, rather than get overloaded and burn out ... better to have too many volunteers doing too little, chomping at the bit to do more, than too few you ask too much of, chomping at the bit to get out of the grind as soon as they can find some sucker to take over the onerous and overloaded roles ...


For adult volunteers ... even for day camp ... KISMIF is still a good paradigm.


You have parents coming with their kids for day camp ... it is a perfect time to get them engaged DOING things ... which will make it more fun for them, and ease the load on the other adult volunteers ...


Reember to get the OA folks engaged fully for your day camp ... the OA is a key set of experienced and dedicated scouts who have the committment to assist in such leadership roles.


Also remember that many High Schools have a REQUIREMENT for community service and that time spent volunteering, whether it is helping with logistics, cooking, or manning a post on a nature walk, counts for their community service hours. This can be a great way to get new kids into scouting ... and get existing scouts the community service hours they need for graduation ... doing something they enjoy.


Be well - Do Good Unto All




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