Top Programming Ideas 2006

Great ideas for the New Year of programming, from directors nationwide.

It’s hard to believe it’s already 2006… but it is. And what better time to regroup and plan next year’s programs. Whether it’s an involved program, or one that’s a simple icebreaker, our hope is that you’ll glean something practical to use from our annual Programming Ideas feature that will help round out your programming or add that something extra to help with retention and recruitment.

Our contributors, representing a broad spectrum of experience, were kind enough to offer their perspectives and ideas. If you happen to meet up with one of these great camp professionals, please let them know you appreciate their input. They took time out of their busy schedules to share their ideas with you, and are deserving of extra recognition.

If you have any great ideas, or you’re looking for more information, please let us know. E-mail us at, call (830) 257-1012 or fax (830) 257-1020.

The Big Tent

I believe that the most successful camp events are those that manage to engage all the camp’s activities, campers, staff and camp families. More importantly, the event must generate enthusiasm and a need for participation and preparation from everyone.

The camp community can be a diverse population, with a wide variety of personalities, interests and skills. However, when you rally the troops with a united cause or event, that group can accomplish amazing things together. I believe that contributions and accomplishments can come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s an example of how our camp benefited from a total team effort, individual accomplishments and had a lot of fun all at the same time…

One of our most popular events last year was our Mini Circus, which was the culmination of our week long theme of Clowning Around!

This event was designed to capture the effort and achievements of our entire camp community. Each camp group and staff member was given the opportunity to participate in this event.

The event was held on a Friday afternoon, which gave everyone the entire week to prepare. The event highlighted the energy, creativity, athleticism, knowledge, concern, respect and pure fun that is generated throughout camp life.

Our sports specialist used his time with the campers to work on tumbling, juggling and tossing skits. Campers of all ages took tremendous pride in their progress and the staff noticed that many campers, who usually were not particularly fond of traditional sports, really got excited about this and worked hard on the athletic skills required to perform these tasks. Suddenly hoola hoops, bean bags, plastic bowling pins, rings and balls were flying everywhere.

Our arts and crafts and nature specialist used their time to work on designing and creating posters that expressed our campers’ love of animals, clowns and life under the Big Tent, which was beautifully illustrated on a giant mural in our social hall, where this event took place. I think that parents are still trying to get off all the paint and glitter that the campers got on them during that week.

Our music and drama specialist used his time with the campers to work on some traditional, as well as some non-traditional, circus skits for the gala event. Children of all ages love the spotlight and I think that singing in the bathtub will never be quite the same anymore.

Our general camp counselors took on the responsibility of Clowning Around with their groups and making jesters of themselves and the campers. Silly faces and crazy outfits were created and goofy antics were practiced to perfection. Shaving cream pies, water balloons, silly string, big noses and colorful faces filled the campus in preparation for the big event.

Our campers’ families got into the act as well, either as spectators, participants or supporters. Clearly, even the adults involved regained that special twinkle in their eye as they fondly remembered their own days as a camper or their experiences watching a circus.

The directors were responsible for providing a cotton candy and popcorn machine, which were carefully operated by our CITs alongside our lemonade stand. They also took great pride and pleasure in hawking their goodies (free of course) among the standing-room-only crowd.

Our Master of Ceremony used our sound system to perfection, pumping up the crowd and getting everyone, spectators and participants alike, revved up for the event.

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