From Pop Culture To Camp Culture

An Amazing Race is educational, active, and fun--all rolled into one!

An Amazing Race is educational, active, and fun–all rolled into one!

soccer relay, or a Jamaican drumming limbo, to name a few. It is wonderful to be able to involve international staffers while sharing information and activities about their countries. Lastly, have each team participate in the World Flag Challenge, in which they must correctly identify the flags from each country before they hold hands and cross the finish line together as a team. This activity is educational, active, and fun—all rolled into one!

Summer Olympics

Many camps hold mini-Olympic Games to acknowledge this inspiring global competition held every four years. If the camp Olympics can coincide with the actual Summer Games so much the better. Spirit, sportsmanship, creativity, teamwork, and giving one’s best effort are at the heart of these three days of high energy. Start by interviewing several staff members that campers would wish to become the torchbearer. During the opening ceremonies, teams representing continents parade across the athletic field. A hush falls as the opening notes of the official Olympic anthem resound and the person chosen to light the Flame enters with the torch. After reading the Olympic Creed, sing songs, make speeches, and begin the games. Hold team and individual events over a two-day period, before presenting medals (everyone gets a team medal) with the closing ceremonies on the third day.

Provide campers an opportunity to represent their continent in swimming races, equestrian events, gymnastics, field events, paddle sports, sailing, cycling, and other sports. Encourage campers to indulge their creativity by helping with original team cheers, songs, and banners. Pair a new staff member with a returning one to co-captain each team, as these enthusiastic role models for the campers as well as impart cultures and traditions from the various represented continents—North and South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

Hunger Games

This year’s popular Hunger Games series has caught the imagination of youth and adults. Careful thought and planning put a positive spin on this day, which begins with the pageantry so present in the story. Staff members can dress up as the main characters and lead camper districts/teams on scavenger hunts throughout the grounds, while “eliminating” tributes with water balloons. The participants (following “elimination”) give interviews (as in the films), showcasing poise and sportsmanship, which earns their teams more points. Decorate the athletic field with a giant cardboard cornucopia that serves as a backdrop for a fun day that involves a great deal of teamwork and imagination.

Pirates Of The Caribbean

Last but not least, Pirates of the Caribbean is a swashbuckling focus for a special evening in the camp dining hall! As the camp gathers for the traditional flag-lowering ceremony, a plywood galleon ship (fashioned over a rowboat) can row Captain Jack Sparrow and his mighty crew to shore. Use sword fighting and kidnapping of fair maidens throughout the meal to bring fantasy “Adventure Land” to camp.

When pop culture complements camp culture, children experience the benefits of play and imagination in a safe and stimulating environment. Communication, self-confidence, trust, and a feeling of belonging are benefits of intentional activities that are fun, exciting, and interesting for all ages.

Georgianna Schrader Starz is the owner and CEO of Camp Nicolet, Inc in Eagle River, Wis. Reach her at

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  2. Lumberjack Games
  3. Hunger Games Camp?
  4. The Spirit of Camp
  5. Teaching Teachers

One comment on “From Pop Culture To Camp Culture

  1. Jeanie Styer Simon on said:

    What a great article! So nice to know my 12 year old Rachel has been able to experience the same things I did as a camper from 1944 to 1950. Learning to Live together and the magic and spirit of Camp Nicolet will be in my heart forever. I can still have tears watching the big N burn in the last pictures of camp of 2013. How lucky we were all to be part of this.

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