Monday, May 16, 2011

How to plan camp

Often Youth workers will ask..."How do I put together a Camp for my students"

Unfortunately I have no formula but I do have some experience. Here are 10 first steps to planning camp.

1. Do you want to do this? Seriously, ask yourself: "Is this something I want to do?" is there a benefit of planning your own camp that outweighs buying into a camp that already exists? This is important to establish because I know form experience that if you just like the title "Camp Director" and that's the main reason for your project you will hate your life very quickly! Running your own camp is no walk in the park...even if you are camping in a park (especially if you are camping in a park). Prayerfully write a purpose statement for camp. Without a purpose, you are just taking a very stressful vacation.

2. Consider a realistic numerical goal for attendance. Go through previous event attendance and pray about a number. We'd all love to run the most successful camp in the country and change thousands of students lives during our epic week-long program but that probably isn't what will happen...your visionary thinking may be commendable but your budget will not be. About 50% of your youth group attendance is probably a good starting point.

3. Pick a rough date. We put ours at the start of summer, it kicks everything off and all our other events begin the week after camp.

4. Research venues. No venue is perfect so have an idea in your head about what compromises are acceptable and what are not. Separate dorms for guys and girls is probably a non-negotiable, whether soda is served at dinner is probably not. Most venues will book over 12 months in advance.

5. Visit your prospective venues. It is worth the investment! You can get a feel for the campus or site before you sign contracts, ask every question you can think, don't be shy, you are the client. If your venue is too far to visit, I would suggest you think again. Most sites will require a minimum attendance, try to negotiate a number 10% lower than you expect. Pray about your decision.

6. Using the venue costs and transportation cost as a starting point begin to build a budget (more on this later), pray about your budget. Unfortunately a lot rises and falls on money.

7. Write a proposal. I complete a proposal and meet with my direct report to talk and pray it through, raise questions and share ideas. It helps to get details ironed out (so you have something to present) and helps to get the project out of your own head and into reality. It's painful to share a project that you love but those early meetings will help later on. If you don't have a direct report, then bring in a key volunteer.

8. Begin thinking about promotion. The more information you can give out early on the better...location, price etc.

9. Plan out a timeline. When will planning begin? When will registration be open?

10. Think of the whole. It's easy to let camp consume you...but there is life after camp (and before it for that matter) How will camp fit within your ministry year? or How will the Summer fit around camp?

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