Solely Responsible

It’s easy to assume every camper is thrilled to jump off the rope swing into the lake, or to take part in the cabin cheer. While it’s not possible to provide all campers with a totally individualized schedule, take into account interests and abilities. One summer I had day camps in eight parks throughout the city. On Fridays, all of the camps gathered at one location for special events. At the third week, one of my best counselors said, “Silvana, I know you’ve gone to a lot of work to plan the mud bowl and Jell-O fight this Friday. My campers and I were talking about it, and none of them want to come. We’d like to use Friday to finish making a wall hanging that we’re delivering to the nursing home next to the park.” Naturally I thought everyone loved to get dirty and slimy with mud and Jell-O. In this case, I had parents calling me, delighted their children were attending a day camp where the counselor was attuned to the kids’ desire to take part in “less messy” activities.

And, of course, the most outgoing camper is going to steal the show during skit night, but how about having a round of applause for the camper who helped gather all the props? One counselor, trying to show that everyone was important to make the skit a success, held a dress rehearsal complete with wacky costumes and an assortment of props and sound effects provided by the behind-the-scenes campers. After a run-through, she said, “I want you to see what an important part Jessica, Haley and Amanda do with costumes and props. We’re going to do the skit again in regular clothes and without the props. There won’t be any sound effects either.” The skit fell flat, and the rest of the campers gained an appreciation for the girls who weren’t on stage, but played a major role.

By the way, if your camp serves children who can use new shoes, give me a call. I might be able to work out something where my husband and I pull up to your camp in the big, blue Soles4Souls RV and give free shoes to your campers. What better way to combine the two industries!

Silvana Clark has over 20 years experience helping thousands of children create arts and crafts projects. She presents keynotes and workshops on a variety of recreation-related subjects. She can be reached at (615) 662-7432 or via e-mail at

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