Hi-Ho Silver…

This summer, in tune with the television show, we launched our new Ultimate Survivor Week. A week full of team challenges (some created relays, team initiatives and puzzles), individual awards, and a tribal voting system.

We used an all-inclusive voting system, which rewards team work, values, and character development, and frowns on bad sportsmanship. The winner of the week’s worth of voting is awarded the Ultimate Survivor and is credited with a free week of camp in 2005. This new program has already sold out and forced the creation of another session of it.

In addition, adventure programming can be used to enhance the existing programs and re-invigorate old programs. This summer we re-worked a ten-year-old program, renamed it, added new challenges and activities and added themes to certain weeks. The response has been a higher enrollment.

Adventure programming allows a creative team to think outside the normal course of thinking to take existing programs and make them better.

Every summer new staff bring with them ideas to make new games and new themes. Be sure to create opportunities for staff to share.

No matter your programming or camp resources, the adventurous spirit of your staff and creativity of your team with bring 99 percent of the adventure effort to your camp. To help you along try and focus on these three camp areas to help bring the imagination to reality.

All in all keep in mind the most important aspect. No matter what resources you have, what money you have, or what buildings you have, in the end you need to have a staff that can run the world’s best programming even if all the buildings burned down, and all the money ran out. They are the heart of an adventure program. Good luck and have a safe and fun summer.

Ideas to Try

1. Take an existing program and place it up on a story board. See what is new at your camp that can be added to the program. Look at adding a theme of specialization to the week, and maybe rename it.

2. Build a new high adventure structure, but plan how it will be incorporated into the summer program.

3. Create from scratch! Look at what is popular and create a program focused around it: Disc golf, amazing race relays, all camp games, leadership reaction courses, or survival, among many other activities. Use a story board to lay out the week visually and plug in the activities.

4. List all adventure ideas in your camp by category, structure, program and trips. These lists will help you create new programming.

5. Look at possible out-trips in a 300 mile radius from your camp. Can you attach a theme to the trip?

Jeff Merhige is the executive director of YMCA Camp Kern, Dayton YMCA, Dayton, Ohio.

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Related posts:

  1. Flow & Tell
  2. Summer of Surprises
  3. Climbing & Traversing
  4. Beyond Summer
  5. Collaborative Programming

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