Day Camp Theme: Super Scouts

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I know I do a ton of searching online for camp theme ideas when we begin planning our day camp, so I thought I would share what we did this year and maybe inspire some other camps to try this theme next summer.

Super Scouts:  Using our Girl Scout powers to be every day heroes who make the world a better place.  We wanted this to be about girl empowerment, not commercial super heroes, so we specifically emphasized that our focus would be on finding your OWN super power, such as kindness, encouragement, empathy, courage, enthusiasm, leadership, etc.  No laser beam bolts of lightning coming out of your eyes and definitely no guns or weapons.  This was all about finding your special strength and celebrating that this is what makes you unique.  Probably one of our best themes, and the adults got into it just as much as the girls!

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Each girl made a cape and was able to decorate it with fabric makers and felt shapes.  We used the disposable fabric called “Smart-Fab” from http://www.enasco.com.  This is basically interfacing in a variety of colors, and you can cut any shape, no fraying edges, and it’s very lightweight (good on a hot day).  Instead of adding either ties or velcro closure around the neck, we decided to just safety pin the corners to the girls should through her t-shirt.  Much more comfortable and no risk of the choking hazard if the cape gets caught on something.

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I purchased all of our graphics on Dreamstime, a very reasonable stock photography/illustration site.  We used the girl image for our flyer , website header, and patch design.  She is not overly “endowed” like many superhero illustrations and was perfect to modify for our uses.   Then I purchased some of the comic “sound effect” bubbles and added our own text words to the images, reproduced them on indoor poster stock with grommets and hung these around camp.  See images below.  These will be great to use for our recruiting events this Fall too.  I included a link to a PDF of each poster that has “Courage”, “Confidence” and “Character” printed on them (these are about 36″ wide x 22″ tall) in case you want to print your own.

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On Tues, Wed and Thurs mornings, we invited some everyday super heroes to our morning flag ceremony.  I tried to find some female role models in non-traditional service careers and found an Army Sergeant at our local recruiting office, a CHP Officer, and two fire fighters, one career and one volunteer.  I loved that we were able to showcase the volunteer firefighter by saying that she was a restaurant owner by day and her “alter ego” was as a firefighter by night!  There are lots of other careers that you can showcase who serve the community, but I was really looking for roles that most girls don’t even consider when thinking about careers.  Just want them to know that anything is possible!  It was actually the older CIT’s (our high school girls) that came up to me after meeting our super hero visitors and said “that was cool”!  If they thought it was cool, then it was totally worth it.

Female CHP officer visiting our Day Camp, one of our everyday “super heroes”.

Activities were pretty traditional for camp this year, trying to get back to the “skills” that girls should be learning when they come to camp: Archery, Knots & Lashing, Arts & Crafts, Newsletter, Performing Arts (skits), Woodworking, Fun with Foods, and Rocket Science (more on this one in another post).  Everyone went to Archery and Arts & Crafts, then the girls were allowed to choose two additional camptivities to add to their schedule.  I highly recommend (if you can get your program choices completed ahead of time) to have the girls choose their camptivities choices during registration.  I spent many hours on Monday night trying to assign girls to their top choices and keep everything balanced.  Quite a challenge.

Sharpie tie-dye on white tennis shoes in Arts & Crafts

Sharpie tie-dye on white tennis shoes in Arts & Crafts

What else can I share about camp?  Come up with some fun Super Hero themed cheers, and modify some of your songs to meet the theme as well.  We challenged our CIT’s to come up with new songs and games that were super hero themed for them to teach the girls.  They did an amazing job!   If you have more questions, or want further detail on how we organize our day camp, we would be happy to share with anyone else wanting to start a Girl Scout Day Camp.  I have 5 years worth of experience with fine tuning our planning calendar so that everything gets done in about 7 months time.  So the time to start planning for Summer 2016 is now!

If you want to see more about how our camp is organized, you can see our “prezi” training for new volunteers here:  Sonoma Day Camp New Volunteer Online Training.

Comment or contact me if you have any questions, we’d love to share everything that we have learned about running a day camp over the last 5 years.

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Gearing up for Day Camp

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DayCampArchery1Is there anything more fun than Girl Scout Camp?  I don’t think so!  Even for the adults (we are all just kids in disguise anyway!).  I have been the camp director for our local Day Camp for the last 3 years.  We are heading into year 4 with a solid core of volunteers and we finally have the girls aware of camp so they encourage their families to sign up fast when registration opens.  We are at about 120 girls, 25 C.I.T.’s (counselors in training) and around 40 volunteers, at least 20 of which are full time volunteers, spending the whole week at camp with us.

DayCamp201318Our C.I.T.’s spend the night, so it’s really a resident camp for them.  Cadettes spend 2 nights (wed & thurs) at camp and Juniors spend 1 night.  Little ones only come during the day.  We have built in a very clear progression for activities and privileges to keep the girls excited to come back the next year with new activities as they move up to the next level.

We operate on a rotation basis, with each unit grouped by age and then rotating to stations for activities.  Stations have been:  archery, outdoor cooking, science, nature, and arts & crafts.  We then add in something that pertains to our theme for the week, last year we were the Western Roundup and had a petting zoo of farm animals one day, panning for gold on another day, etc.  This year we are doing “Under the Big Top” and we are hoping to have something fun in the way of acrobatics added to our camp fun!

DayCamp201311Are you thinking about starting a Day Camp program in your area?  Contact your CDD or local Leader Support Manager and find out what the process is for starting a camp.  There will be a few trainings that will be needed (Event Manager and Day Camp Director for sure), but you’ll also want to gather a team of women (or men) that you enjoy working with and can share the workload with you.  The first year is the hardest, then each year after that is SO much easier and everything falls into place pretty easily.

Be prepared for a lot of work!  But with lots of work, comes huge reward.  Not the monetary kind, but the type of reward you receive when a camper gives you a hug, or when she sees you in the grocery store and asks “when does camp start this year?”.  Their excitement is contagious.  What really surprised me in the way of “rewards” was how many good friends I would gain through the other adult volunteers.  We have a great time spending the week together, enjoying the outdoors and being silly with the girls, but those friendships have also continued long past the week of camp.  I am truly blessed to be working with some amazing women.

So what are you waiting for?  Start a new camp, or maybe volunteer at another camp first and get an idea on how the behind the scenes operations work.  Camp does not have to be for a full week.  Plan a mini-camporee for two days.  Girls love getting outdoors and if your area does not have accessible options for the girls in your area, then start planning!  I promise you won’t regret it.