‘Tis the season for reflection on the summer! I wouldn’t be a very good Program Director if I didn’t evaluate our different program purchases to figure out what was the best utilized. Below you’ll find my summer summary of popular program elements. (As a side note: To meet the criteria for consideration in this prestigious countdown, the program element needed to be something used in more than one session)
5. Pop-up Soccer Nets
I was pleasantly surprised at how useful the sets of pop-up soccer nets that I’d purchased at the beginning of the season were. It started when I decided to put them up in the main lawn of the Lighthouse unannounced; it turns out that kids can’t resist empty nets and a lonely ball! It was nice to see some pick-up sports going on in a common area. The nets were also very useful for beach soccer. And I was most pleased to see a soccer tournament among the options at Senior Boys - the full-sized soccer field was always too far away for it to be possible, but with the pop-up nets, a legitimate round-robin schedule could be developed.
4. Hand-Made Giant Dutch Blitz
To the delight of the campers and myself, the Senior Girls directors took it upon themselves to produce not one, but TWO sets of Dutch Blitz cards the size of bristol board! They used it as a wide game multiple times during Senior Girls because of its popularity, and graciously left it at camp for us to use as needed. Many different sessions benefited from this creativity on the part of the directors!
3. 9-Square in the Air
This was a purchase I was excited about heading into the summer, and it didn’t disappoint. Easy to set up, easy to take down, and easy to explain, this game was used at many different sessions and fit a variety of different camper skill levels and age groups. I know I was drawn into a pick-up game of 9-Square during Basecamp which reminded me of how this game is fast enough to keep you interested, but slow enough to have fun chatting in between each play.
2. Floating Water Mattress (aka the “Lilypad”)
A floating water mattress wasn’t my idea; it was sort of dumped on me (literally) one day mid-summer when our Executive Director (aka my husband) came back to camp with it stuffed in the back of our vehicle, pleading that it had been a good price and would be great (editor’s note: and it was on budget too!). Turns out he was right. From the moment it was put into the water, it was a source of laughter, splashing and smiles! Whether people were wrestling for king position or simply trying to remain standing for a few seconds, the results were hilarious! It also provided some opportunities for relaxation, serving as a tanning bed or a comfy “burrito”, as some called it. I was happy to see my skepticism over its relevance proved completely wrong!
1. Escape Rooms
Escape rooms were run at every session this summer - WOOHOO! It was amazing to watch campers of every age work through the challenges, puzzles and tasks in “Uncle Charlie’s Deed”, “Town Hall Takeover”, and “Maple Syrup Mystery”. Escape rooms really bring out the joy of discovery in people; I loved getting to talk to groups coming out of the rooms to see their excitement over how they’d solved a puzzle or uncovered a clue. I also had the opportunity to do a talk at a few of the sessions about the connections between faith and escape rooms, and it heightened my own awareness of God at work in my life and the lives of everyone around me. I was thankful for the way that each director incorporated the rooms as fit their schedule best, making it possible for this resource to get to as many campers (and staff) as possible!
In summary: this has all got me very excited about what programming we can strengthen and develop that could top next year’s charts!