35 Creative Programming Ideas for 2009

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For The Campfire

S’more Tips

Camp Marengo loves campfires and all that come with them, from songs to s’mores to skits and more! Our songs involve lots of motion intended to make everyone look ridiculous. How else can you look with songs titled “Let Me See Your Funky Chicken” and “Bananas of the World, Unite”? We act like valley girls and cockroaches then jump around like giant pop corn. It is so much fun!

When it comes to s’mores, Camp Marengo is creative. When 200 campers want s’mores, we have to be efficient, so we combine the graham cracker and chocolate, and just use fudge-striped cookies. Roast the marshmallow, slap it between two fudge-striped cookies and “ta-da”–you have a delicious snack that is easier and faster to put together and at a reduced cost.

Besides being goofy and making snacks, campfires are great for sharing. As we wind down, the campers are invited to share personal testimonies, thank you’s, shout outs, or whatever is in their hearts and minds. It is a wonderful opportunity to hear about their lives, challenges and changes.

And finally, our summer staff always sends the kids off with a song. “You Gotta Keep On Shining” is a tribute to past staff, and we gather together and sing “You gotta keep on shining, though it sometimes seems in vain. You gotta keep on shining like a candle in the rain.”

–Melyssa Trussel

Camp Marengo

Marengo, Ohio

A Personal Debate

One thing we do and also my personal favorite is group discussions. We pick a serious topic involving our children or our community, and the first night after dinner around 8:00 p.m., we all sit around the campfire, and starting with the youngest all the way to the oldest, we discuss that specific topic and what we can do to better the situation.

For example, some of our past topics have been:

1. Father and son relationships and our roles

2. Leadership and what it takes to be a leader

3. Honesty–practicing to becoming completely honest

4. Leaving doors open for others, helping your fellow man.

–John A. Skinner

Mechanical Engineer

Summit Consultants, Inc.

Fort Worth, Texas

Human “Board Games”

You Sunk My Battleship!

Our Leaders in Training (LITs) create a new evening activity each year. Three summers ago, the all-camp activity was Water Balloon Battleship, and campers have loved to participate in it ever since. They hang black plastic about 6 feet high down the middle of a sports field.

Camper-sized grids are placed on the ground with string so that each camper can stand in a separate box. Five 5’ x 5’ boxes are on each side so all 10 cabins can play at the same time. The campers are lined up in battle groups of three, four or five–like the ships in the board game in their cabin grid. The idea is the same–trying to eliminate the other side’s ships/campers, but by splashing them with water balloons. The opposing sides cannot see each other’s grid so on a specific count, everyone throws their water balloon over, with the sides taking turns. One is eliminated by catching or touching a water balloon, or the balloon hitting inside a square. Everyone has to pay attention, and campers make some crazy “matrix” moves not to get hit by the balloon. Once a team is eliminated, it waits for the other teams to finish and then everyone on one side of the tarp rotates to the left, giving them the opportunity to play another round with a different opponent. We usually play three to four rounds, depending on the number of balloons and the daylight available. The LITs spend about a week prepping about 3,500 water balloons for game night.

The Rules

Every camper and cabin leader need to be inside their grid square and cannot move out of it once the game has started. One side of the tarp throws balloons, and once it is done throwing, the opposite side gets to throw. Teams take turns until one team is eliminated. When throwing the water balloon, a camper must throw from where he or she is standing in the square on the grid. A camper needs to dodge the balloon without moving from the square in the grid. Balloons are thrown on a count from the leader. After a round is over, pieces of the balloons are thrown in the trash. Another round begins.

Set-Up Requirements

30 water balloons per camper (10 water balloons per round)

10 5-gallon buckets to hold the balloons in front of cabin grids and as many containers to hold the number of balloons needed (We use clean trash cans, ice chests and anything else that can hold water and balloons.)

Plastic tarps and lots of string

12 LITs lead the activity, making sure each cabin has balloons and trash buckets nearby. (We end up using the 5-gallon water balloon buckets, and keeping everyone engaged.)

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