Expert Summer Camp Planning Tips: A Comprehensive Guide for Event Planners

Blog banner for camp planning

Summer camps are very profitable businesses, with profit margins ranging from 25 to 40 percent. The American Camp Association states that camp enrollment continues to rise, and over 14 million kids and adults attend camps every summer.

Many people like summer camps, and they provide such unique experiences, that planning and hosting summer camps are worth the effort.  With summer right around the corner, whether you’re a camp director or an event planner, you should start planning a camping trip now.

But how can you even begin your summer plan as an event professional, or even if you’re not a professional event planner? How do you get started?  Don’t worry; with the right tools and strategies, you can plan a camp that everyone will remember for years to come.

This article will give you practical advice and insider information on how to plan an amazing summer camp. So grab your sunscreen, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to plan a once-in-a-summer adventure! But first…

Get Familiar with Summer Camp Guidelines

Before doing any summer camp event planning, crafting any camp program and activity, or setting the stage for a great camp experience, familiarize yourself with the American Camp Association guidelines.

It is essential to any event professional planning a summer camp to know the importance of following ACA guidelines, adhering to these guidelines, and getting ACA accreditation. By doing so, you can be confident that your camp will be up to standard with their assistance.

10 Process Tips to Make Your Summer Camp Event a Hit!

1. Define Your Goal and Make It Happen

Before you begin planning your camp, you must first define what you hope to accomplish. A great camp experience starts with a well-defined mission and objectives. Some questions to ponder include:

– Who are your target attendees? What’s your desired number of participants?

– What experience do you or your attendees want to have?

– What connections do you want participants to make?

– What do you want attendees to take away from the camp? What skills will the camp provide?

Think about what you want campers to learn and gain from the experience. It could be new skills, friendships, and personal development. This will help you develop a clear vision for your camp and ensure that all of your planning is centered on achieving your goals.

2. Target Age Group

Determine your campers’ age range so you can create a schedule of activities and accommodations that is suitable for them. Are you planning the camp for kids? Or for teens? Or maybe for adults?

Different age groups have different needs and preferences. Older kids might be able to manage lengthier programs, while younger kids would do better with shorter camps, such as day camps or weekend overnight camps. Furthermore, activities should be age appropriate with health and safety as a top priority.

Teens are less demanding and would want independence. Activities that may work best include those that develop leadership skills, team-building, and personal growth. Access to technology would also be provided.

As for adults, activities should align with their interests. They are mostly into outdoor recreation, workshops, or social events. Comfort and convenience are key considerations, so facilities should be well-maintained and provide modern amenities such as air conditioning and comfortable bedding.

3. Choose The Right Campsite Location or Venue

The campsite is an important consideration in event planning. Make sure your campers have comfortable accommodations that meet their needs. Also, consider making accommodations for disabled campers.

Major campsite features that you need to consider are the following:

  • Location
  • Terrain
  • Size
  • Water Source
  • Electricity
  • Fire Pit
  • Service Cost
  • Level of Security and Safety
  • Quality of Service from Staff
  • Amenities and Facilities
  • Wildlife and Insect Concerns
  • Weather Conditions
  • Camp Regulations and Accreditation

Do your research. You can check the web for reviews and recommendations. You can even ask your network for any suggestions and reliable advice.

4. Build Your Dream Team

Hiring and training the right staff is an important part of the camp planning process. Your camp staff will secure the safety of the campers as well as the implementation of the program, provide support to the participants, coordinate the activities, set a positive and non-threatening environment and others.

Your team will consist of a camp director, operations manager, counselors, medical staff, support staff, communication team, and volunteers. Look for experienced and enthusiastic staff members who share your camp vision and have the necessary skills and experience to lead activities and manage campers.

In addition to that, you need to do a background check on each of your prospects to ensure that they won’t pose any threat to the campers. You can also provide extensive training to ensure that employees or staff members are prepared to handle emergencies, should one arise.

5. Create an Inclusive Experience

As an event professional, ensure that your summer camp is inclusive and accessible to all campers, regardless of any disability. Foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance.

Bear in mind that campers’ personal information, including their disability status, should be respected. Only tell staff members who need to know about a camper’s disability, such as medical personnel or a counselor.

In addition to that, clear communication is essential especially when working with people who have disabilities. Use simple language and communicate instructions clearly. Be patient and be willing to repeat. Make certain that activities are inclusive of all abilities by providing alternative activities for people who may be unable to participate in traditional activities.

Collaboration with disability organizations can help you reach out to people with disabilities and provide a more inclusive camp experience. Consider contacting local disability organizations to assist with planning, outreach, and training staff and counselors on how to work with people with disabilities.

6. Make Every Minute Count

Make every minute of your summer camp count by making a camp schedule and sticking to it. Offer a variety of activities and remain flexible with the schedule to ensure that campers have a fun, safe, and enjoyable summer camp experience.

Coordinate with the camp director in planning activities for different times of day to balance and structure activities, free time, and rest periods for summer camp with consideration of campers’ age group.

You can include the following in your daily activities: outdoor activities (hiking, wildlife observation, capture the flag, obstacle course), sports (soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball), arts and crafts (painting, drawing, pottery making, knitting), water activities (kayaking, swimming), and educational activities (science experiments, quiz bee).

Make sure to include in the camp planning process and management process meal times and proper timing for snacks. Remember to schedule time for staff orientation, camp setup, and activity evaluation with your employees and camp counselors.

7. Set the Stage for Adventure

To set the stage for camp adventure, establish a camp theme that corresponds to your camp’s goals and activities. Camp themes are an excellent way to enhance campers’ experiences and foster a sense of community within a camp.

A theme can be based on a specific interest or activity, and it should be incorporated into all aspects of the camp, including activities and decorations. A well-executed camp theme can make campers’ experiences memorable and enjoyable.

Group of friends jumping in a nature reserve during a summer camp

It will furthermore help foster a deeper connection between fellow campers and the overall camp community. There are numerous themes to choose from, including superhero and adventure themes, as well as animal, sports, nature, music, and beach themes.

8. Spread the Word and Pack Your Bag

You’ll need to promote your camp through a variety of channels. Use social media, local advertising, and referrals from satisfied campers and parents to spread the word about your camp.

To differentiate yourself from the competition, emphasize your camp’s unique features and benefits. And make sure to address any concerns or questions that every parent may have about your camp’s schedule, activities, staff, and safety measures.

Another way to promote your camp is to create a dedicated page on your website with a detailed description of your camp program, including photos and videos from previous camps.

Make the online event registration process simple to use and offer early bird discounts or referral incentives. For your online registration, you can partner with Event Espresso or Event Smart. They truly are the best event registration and event ticket sales software.

You can reach a larger audience and increase enrollment by promoting your camp on your website. If you don’t have one, Event Smart can provide one for you.

9. Fun First, Safety Always

When planning a camp, safety should be your top priority. Create a comprehensive emergency plan that includes evacuation procedures, medical protocols, and access to personal information. Hire qualified lifeguards, medical personnel, and coaches, and provide adequate training on safety procedures and emergency situations to all employees.

Necessary equipment and information should also be at your disposal such as emergency service contact information, medications, first aid kits, devices or equipment like an AED, emergency communication devices, fire extinguishers, flashlights (in case of a power outage), and others.

Talk to the camp owner about their camp operation and make sure your location has adequate facilities and equipment, and that your employees are trained in emergency procedures.

Make Your Camp Memorable with These Camp Activities

Here are 10 fun activity recommendations you can do to make camp life for campers entertaining and interesting:

  • Outdoor activities such as nature walks, hiking, tent building, archery, obstacle courses, and team-building exercises are all great options for summer camps.
  • Campfire activities can be a great way for campers to bond and make memories. Prepare for a night of storytelling, songwriting, marshmallow roasting, and stargazing.

Campers are gathered around a camp fire while singing and playing a guitar

  • Arts and crafts, painting, drawing, and theater are examples of creative activities that can be used to inspire campers’ imaginations.
  • Sports can be an excellent way to keep campers active and engaged. Traditional sports like basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as nontraditional sports like frisbee, golf, and pickleball, are great options, especially for those in the youth group.
  • If your camp is close to a body of water, water activities can be a great way to cool off during the summer. Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are great summer activities to include in your lineup.
  • Teach campers the value of giving back to the community by having community service. Give campers the experience of volunteering at a local charity, planting trees, or cleaning up a park in your community.
  • Music and dance activities are ideal for campers who enjoy expressing themselves creatively. Consider including singing, dancing, playing an instrument, or even writing music in your summer camp program.
  • Cooking and baking activities can be a fun and delicious way to teach campers about healthy eating and nutrition. Simple campfire recipes that campers can prepare together are a fun activity to incorporate into your camping.
  • Field trips can be a great way to change up the scenery and introduce campers to new experiences. Go to a nearby zoo, museum, or amusement park, pair small kids with older children, or invite their parents for a camping trip activity.
  • STEM Activities: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) activities can be educational as well as entertaining for campers. Consider robotics, coding, or construction projects.

Remember to tailor the activities to your campers’ ages and interests. Your campers will have a fun and memorable summer camp experience with a variety of activities to interact and engage in!

Open the Door to Endless Fun and Memories: Begin Camp Planning Today with Event Espresso

Planning a summer camp requires a significant amount of time and effort, but it is all worthwhile when you see campers having the best time of their lives. Remember to keep things organized, balance activities with rest, and prioritize providing a safe and welcoming environment for all participants.

If you need recommendations or advice, get in touch with other event experts. The best piece of advice I can give is to work with Event Espresso, the best and simplest software for managing events and selling tickets.

With Event Espresso, you can register a group of attendees and collect information for each attendee, as in the case of a family with more than one kid to enroll in your camp. Plus, registrants can make partial payments to your camp through their PayPal accounts.

Event Espresso’s event management and ticket software is not only the best, but it is also very affordable in fact, you can try it for free! Get your free demo now!

Share a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Need help with Event Espresso? Create a support post in our support forums

Event Espresso