Creating Camp Spirit

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Just A Few Simple Ideas to Help Create the Right Camp Spirit

As we all know, camp community is unique and special; it exists virtually nowhere else on earth.  As we head into our summers, we would like to share with you each week easy activities or practices to implement at your camp that will help make this your best summer ever.

Servants’ Entrance

Make a sign that says “Servants’ Entrance” and hang it over the door to your meeting space or staff lounge as a reminder to everyone that we are at camp to serve one another.  If you have a woodworker on your staff who would like to take on a project, have him or her make one that can be treasured for years.

Love Lines

Hang a clothesline in your staff lounge onto which paper bags are attached with clothespins.  Give each staff member has his or her own bag with his or her name on it.  Your entire staff can then place letters of encouragement or appreciation in them from time to time.  They can sign their names or not.  Make time every few weeks to fill in a few yourself.

Be sure to frontload with your staff that these are to be positive notes and not a place to air grievances or concerns.

Even if you have staff mailboxes for incoming mail and staff memos, the Love Line concept is strictly for staff members to show how much they care and support one another and is an excellent addition to your current mail system.

Rain Drops

Collect screw-top contact lens bottles from your eye doctor - one for every member.  At some point during a downpour (without thunder and lightening!), take your staff outside to collect rain.  If you're lucky, you can achieve this during your training time before the campers arrive.

Ask them for the containers back and then at the end of the summer when they've all forgotten about it, give them back their bottles of rain to take home with them to remind them of the many wonders and gifts that poured down upon you this summer. The year we gave these to our staff, we purchased little velvet bags in which to put them.  These can be found at a gift shop or dollar store and are quite inexpensive.

The year we did this activity, it was hot and humid and they had been inside most of the afternoon in sessions during Leadership Training.  When the rain came, we grabbed our bag of little bottles and headed outside with the staff. We had an outstanding time playing in puddles and enjoying the downpour before we handed out the containers.

This was over a decade ago and any staff members I talk to still have their bottles of rain.  It makes a great keepsake.

Our Most Important Summer Camp Lesson

photo by Travis Allison (@ Camp Kintail)

Community is INTENTIONAL.

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You should think about it in every aspect of every program that you offer during summer camp and in all contact you have with your campers and staff outside of the summer months.

This is a difficult task. We hope we can make it easier for you. Here is one of the best things we ever developed at camp...

The 4 S’s - In our many years of camping, we discovered that it was imperative to create guidelines for young people to make wise decisions, decisions they could make on their own without too many rules to remember. In our second year of directing, we developed the 4 S’s, a test by which any activity at all could be rendered appropriate to the community or not.

A person must answer ‘yes’ to all 4 S questions before doing any kind of activity (large or small). If they cannot answer ‘yes’ to all 4, it does not help to build community and, therefore, cannot be done. This is an excellent way to empower your young people to make decisions on their own and to make them feel safe and wanted in the community you are building with them.

The 4 S’s - Safety, Stewardship, Servanthood, Self-Esteem

  • Safety - is it physically and emotionally safe?
  • Stewardship - are you being a good steward of the earth?
  • Servanthood - are you serving other people and the community?
  • Self-Esteem - are you building someone’s self-esteem?

What do you think is your most important summer camp lesson?