Pamper (16 percent) Ah, what an absolutely lovely experience!

Unique (18 percent) Are you kidding? Really?

What doesn’t work:

  • Special wakeups … a creative experience instead of an alarm clock, music, or a verbal reminder that cues campers that it’s time to get up. While these are greatly enjoyed by campers, they have not been popular as auction items. We believe the three primary reasons are:

  1. Counselors already provide that service daily.
  2. The special nature of the wakeup offered isn’t enticing enough, especially versus other options.
  3. The experience is one that generally happens to campers, rather than with them.

  • Similar to special wakeups, nighttime discussions with campers before going to bed are already offered, and are not enticing enough compared with other options.

  • Taking an existing meal and spicing it up in some manner. With other exciting options, these items almost always end up on the sidelines.

  • Auction items that ONLY sell because a given staff member is offering it. We find this can create a cult around an individual, and it is our preference that the items are bought for what they are, not who is offering them.

  • Any activity campers can do at home (especially readily) or at another camp often don’t sell.

Example Auction Offerings

Below are some examples of experiences to reward campers:

Make your dreams come true! Really! Campers write down their dreams, and a staff member works to make them a reality.

Provide an off-camping abduction overnight (an overnight experience to remember).

Magic 8-ball of joy and doom. Ask the Magic 8-ball whether the experience will occur, with joyous and doomful events to follow.

Create nighttime games of intrigue.

Conduct the most dangerous game (hunting a staff member with appropriate weapon(s)).

Get beaten by random objects periodically (playful, the campers fight back; oddly loved).

Orchestrate a prison break.

Create the world’s largest hot-tub bubble bath.

Have fun with microwaves.

Build a pyre to burn at night.

Lunch in a tree, koala-style.

Be exposed to dangerous levels of glitter.

It’s not what you think. For five minutes, campers say what cannot happen, and the remainder is fair game.

Present Groundhog Day.

Develop and deliver a super-surprise for camp that will make all who see it overflow with joyful awesomeness.

The Auction

Once the auction list is distributed, campers write down their top-five picks and rate them in order of preference. These are collected from every cabin, and the results are tallied. The sum from all cabins is calculated by adding up the total for each auction item (e.g., 1 + 4 + 3 + 5 + 0 + 5 + 0, etc.)

The results are posted for campers to see, usually at lunch. Campers can write notes on this list, or talk to the special-programs staff member at this time. Some final edits might be made.

The resulting list is presented at auction time after the evening program, when the tokens are played for and won.

Auction Time

Bidders can buy only one item. The popularity rank determines what is auctioned first. So, the items with the highest totals will go first, allowing cabins with high token collections to grab what they want and not have to compete with other cabins for items.

The staff member offering the prize meets with the winning cabin to co-create the experience (and make modifications). This process is often completed at breakfast the following day.

The Aftermath

When cabins leave the auction area, or have bought something, a staff member approaches to gather some information:

  • Did you get your first choice? If not, what choice number was the item you received?
  • What were your other four choices?
  • How many tokens did you have?
  • What was popular and by whom?
  • How many received their first choice?

This information helps the staff understand the offerings as well as the demographics of the demand (i.e., gender, age, etc.). Generally, shoot for 90 percent of cabins to get their first choice and none to take their third choice or lower. Hence, double the number of options in the beginning.

Assessing The Experience

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Related posts:

  1. Campers Vs. Staff Members
  2. Taking Stock
  3. Making the Move
  4. On The Ball Year-Round
  5. The Spirit of Camp
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