An Extraordinary Summer Camp

I organised my first summer camp the summer when I was 18. My university was on strike and I was extremely bored with nothing productive to do. Being the first of six children, I felt like the ‘mother hen’ looking after my siblings. I noticed that they were NOT using some basic ‘posh’ skills when eating, using the lavatory properly etc. So my solution was to organise a ‘home training’ camp for them. The camp was a week long, it started with five children and ended up with twenty-two children by the end of the week. It was just me and twenty two children engaging and having the time of our lives. What an experience! Fast forward several years on, one of my delegates, now an adult had a meeting in a five star hotel. He told me he remembered how to use his fork and knife because of the ‘home training’ camp! Since then, I have held several summer camps over the years; including one where my two bed home was used as a hostel! It makes me laugh just thinking about it now. What I do remember most is the feedback from the children. In one particular camp, I overhead a child during pickup saying, “thank you mum for loving me. I know you love me because you sent me to this summer camp.” This made it worth it!

In the last few days, my Instagram feed has suddenly become flooded with flyers for summer camp, so I know it is in the air. As teacher, what experiences are you planning for children that will attend your summer camp? A great summer camp can be one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences in a child’s life. How can you make your summer camp stand out from the rest? What new skills will be developed? What new experiences will be on offer? Summer camps should not be an extension of traditional school. It should be a time of exploration and discovery.

Great summer camps seek to help children come out of their comfort zone to experience activities that they may not be used to. Through exploration, the children have the opportunities to develop new passions and acquire new skills.

Great summer camps should help children develop new friends and communicate better. There should be activities that encourage children to work collaboratively so that they can experience the benefits of teamwork.

Great summer camps build character. Making new friends is one thing, but cultivating and strengthening these new relationships is another. After a great summer camp, it is not uncommon to see children sad to leave their new friends on the last day of camp. Create activities that help the children nurture these friendships through learning to give respect and taking responsibilities for their action.

The most successful camps I have seen are usually focused on a niche area. Most summer camps around are like the proverbial ‘Jack of all trades’ and ‘master of none’. There is no clear focus. I have never run a summer camp that does EVERYTHING! Have a tight focus. Is the camp a ‘tech camp’ or a ‘creative writing camp’ or an ‘arts and crafts camp’ or a ‘sports camp’? Great summer camps are known for ‘something’.

In the coming weeks, I will be putting up ideas that can make a summer camp stand out!

What is YOUR summer camp going to be like?

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