Top Programming Ideas 2006

Teamwork is a must as they crawl under legs, step over other campers who kneel down, or hang on tight as they attempt to walk around their neighbor. This game requires the group to work very closely together and it cannot help but create a bond and a comfort with new friends who have helped them to be successful.

The difficulty can be increased to include month, day, year or decreased to simply ages. For those who master this easily, blindfolds introduce a new twist.

–Nancy Oken Nighbert is the Executive Camp Director for Riverway Ranch Camp in California.

Getting-to-Know-You Breakfast

On the first day of camp, we have a pancake breakfast for all families enrolled in our summer day camp. This gives the campers and parents an opportunity to meet their counselors, get to know other campers and become comfortable with the large group we have.

This is an easy and inexpensive to welcome new campers and their families and catch up with the returning families. Everyone has always left with a smile on their face and the parents feel comfortable leaving their children in our care.

–Sara Perna is Day Camp Director for Fort Meigs YMCA, Toledo, Ohio

Aqua Tae Kwon Do

We all know what we remember most about summer camp. Sometimes it is just the most simple activity made fun. One of our most popular counselors returned for a dose of summer camp, after graduating Harvard Law School. We made a big deal about his return and the campers were very excited to have him back. He advertised his Water Aerobics class (but with a more exciting name, “Aqua Tae Kwon Do,”) He dressed in a purple leotard and attracted well over 100 campers into the Aquatics Sports Center to imitate the many original moves. The laughter and cheering was heard all over camp. The campers talked about this class for the rest of the session. Campers who were coming in the following session had already heard about it via email from their friends. Amazing what a little PR will do.

–Nancy Oken Nighbert

VBB (Volleyball, Baseball, Basketball)

Playing surface -– indoor or outdoor basketball court

Supplies –- 1 volleyball, 4 bases, 1 basketball net (at regulation 10 feet for children 8 and up, if possible, smaller basket heights for younger children)

Basic game –- the basketball court is set up like a baseball field with home plate at one basket, first, second and third bases set up like the baseball field.

Two teams play, one team is at bat while the other is in the “field”.

The object of the game is to score more runs than the other team.

The team “at bat” starts by putting the ball in play. This is done with a volleyball serve. After hitting the serve the player then runs around the bases without stopping. If they touch all bases and touch home before the fielding team gets them out, they score a run for their team. However, if the team in the field makes a basket before the batter touches home plate then an out is recorded.


1. The team at bat makes a batting order and each player in turn gets to bat.

2. The team in the field must make three passes to one another before attempting to make a basket.

3. If the ball is dropped during any pass attempt, then the team must re-do the passes.

4. If the ball is caught in the air from the batter, the fielding team must still make the three passes and make a basket in order to get the player out.

5. Bunting, like in baseball, is allowed (some games with younger players should not allow bunting).

6. Counselors should act as umpires and make the routine foul ball calls. They should bat too. Campers love to see how far they can hit the ball.

7. The game can be played either with the regular three-out rule or can be played with everyone batting and counting the number of runs scored in that at bat.

8. Establish at the beginning of the game how many innings will be played.

–Mitch Bernstein is Senior Program Director for the Brandywine YMCA in Coatesville, Pa.

An Olympics Twist

Camp is full of individual activities. Campers sign up for classes based on their interests. Counselors encourage campers to try new activities. By the beginning of the second week, many campers have tried over 20 different activities. It is then that we schedule our all-camp Olympics.

Keeping in mind that many campers shy away from competition, River Way offers a different type of competition for the Olympics. (Some camps call this the Color Wars.) All campers are divided into six teams. The senior campers apply and interview to become a team captain. No one is turned down (little do they know).

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