Let’s Get Twisted

Every camp has its never-fail programs and traditions that campers enjoy every year. Yet what about those so-so activities we keep doing because we have the supplies and can do the planning in our sleep? Sometimes all programs need is twisted thinking. (Are any twisted-thinking camp staff members reading this?) Simply take a look at your programs and ask, “What can we do to add a “twist” to this activity or program?

The following are a few examples of ways to add new life to tired programs:

Dig Deep

A camp planning a groundbreaking ceremony for new cabins decided to do away with the traditional “men in suits with one foot on a shovel” picture. Instead, the area where the cabins were to be built was plowed up, and the children in the community were invited to dig in the dirt with their Tonka trucks and toys. The result–150 families, lots of dirty kids and a great human-interest story in the newspaper.

A Memorable Woofstock

A day camp always held a “Visit Our Camp” day for perspective families in the spring. Attendance was so-so. One year the decision was made to try twisted thinking and sponsor “Woofstock.” Families were encouraged to bring their dogs to camp and participate in child-dog look-alike contests and competitions for the largest dog, longest tail, most spots, etc. Camp staff led dogs and their owners on the hiking trails around camp, pointing out features, such as the pool and ropes course. Later, everyone gathered around the campfire to sing songs, accompanied by dogs howling and barking. Attendance at this event doubled, resulting in increased camper registration.

Expand The Storytelling Circle

Stories around the campfire are a camp tradition. Give your staff a break and invite local Toastmasters to share stories. Toastmaster groups are located in thousands of communities across the country. Members join to improve their public speaking skills. Many clubs participate in the “Tall Tales” contest where members practice funny and outlandish stories. Your camp is a perfect place for Toastmasters to practice their material. Your campers, in return, hear stories from talented community members.

Hog Heaven

Many camps look to community groups as a resource. 4-H clubs might set up a petting zoo, or a kite-flying club can demonstrate various types of kites. Great ideas but not twisted enough! How about inviting a local Harley Riders club to roar into your camp? Kids love looking at the shiny bikes and hearing the distinctive sound of a Harley. Many campers are surprised to find how many Harley clubs are involved in charity work. Hey! A nursing home told me that the local Harley Club visited its facility, brought T-shirts for all the residents, and even took residents for rides! (That’s twisted thinking beyond playing BINGO.)

Have A Hair-Off

As I travel around the country giving workshops, many camp personnel tell me they are offering special-interest camps to young girls along the themes of dress-up or “Princess-Power.” Naturally this includes time for the girls to put on fancy clothes and add sparkly clips to their hair. Here’s a twisted way to make these types of camps memorable: contact your local beauty college to see if the students are participating in any “Extreme Hair Styling” Contests. These contests require beauticians to create outlandish and extreme hairstyles on models. This includes having themes, such as Christmas, complete with dozens of candy canes and tinsel intertwined in the model’s hair.

Twist The Theme

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