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Camp Counselors Guide to Camp Games

By: Molly Schwichtenberg

So many young men and women today are walking around with great memories of summer camps. The friendships made can carry throughout a lifetime, and the skills learned can do the same. Some of the best memories made during summer camp, however, are centered around the games played. The competition is matched only by the fun, so any summer camp worth its salt is going to have some fun summer camp games to keep the good times rolling. Here are some of the most popular games we've come across.

Group Building Games

Group building activities are vitally important to the success of a summer camp for many reasons. First, while many children would not necessarily word it this way, it's a great way to build relationships and "network." Many former attendees of summer camps keep those relationships through adulthood. Further, contrary to the beliefs of some, competition is a good thing, and group building activities often pit one team of campers against another. Winning means higher self-esteem and, of course, bragging rights. Losing is equally important, giving children the opportunity to practice losing with humility and grace. Good sportsmanship is important no matter what side of the battle kids come out on, so it's worth incorporating group building games in your summer camp. Finally, working together and communicating is not something many of today's kids are tasked with. Communicating is often digital in youth but analog in adulthood, leaving many young professionals at a disadvantage. Communication is key; don't leave your campers lacking.

Games for All Ages

Summer camps are often unique in that they cater to a wide variety of children in terms of both skills and age. Ensuring that children of all ages are entertained and engaged can mean the difference between a summer camp full of boredom or drama and a fun, cool summer camp campers return to year after year. This does not mean that your campers all have to engage in childish activities. It simply means that you must be mindful of the needs of younger campers versus that of older children.

Alternatives for Rainy Days

The summer camper's (and summer camp counselor's) worst nightmare… the rainy day. What do you do when you can't go outside? How do you keep dozens of campers from going stir crazy when mother nature decides to spread some cabin fever? First, realize that just because it is raining, it is not necessary to tell the campers that it's time for some reading, writing and reflection. While those things are, of course, important to any young person, rain does not have to mean quiet. There are the usual suspects, such as a deck of cards (you can play tons of games using just this) board games, etc. What's more, you can use this opportunity to reinforce the arts portion of your camp. Whatever you choose, remember that the weather doesn't determine how much fun your campers have, you do.

Making Accommodations

Summer camps are great for so many things. Top among these is a summer camp's tendency toward inclusion. Kids with and without disabilities can work together to have fun and create relationships, and doing so has benefits for both groups. Of course, making a camp as inclusive as possible can present some challenges. These challenges are worth undertaking, but they're challenges nonetheless. Overall, you want to make sure that the goals of any game do not prohibit any of your campers from having success. This does not mean you have to make all your games easy to win, just that you've made the appropriate accommodations for disabled campers. For example, if you're running an obstacle course, make sure any obstacle that would be impossible or inordinately difficult has another way of tackling it.

Summer Game Ideas