In the January/February 2022 issue, Amanda Bray, the Aggie Rec Camp director, and Bailey Adams, the program coordinator at Utah State University, share advice on summer camps.
Please share two to three highlights about your summer camp program?
Bailey Adams: One of the things that stands out the most from the 2021 summer is the field trips we were able to take the kids on. From going to the nearest pond to canoe, to going to the local ice rink, bowling, etc. I think the kids and counselors enjoyed those field trips quite a bit.
Amanda Bray: One highlight we saw in our survey responses from parents is we had some campers be able to get out of their comfort zone of jumping off the high dive, improve their swim skills during open swim time, and get over the fear of heights when they were at the climbing wall or challenge course because of the continued support and encouragement from our camp counselors.
What elements have helped make it successful and why?
BA: First and foremost, the camp counselors were what made the camp so successful throughout the summer. They showed up every day with “first day of camp” energy and it translated to the campers. Their ability to adjust on the fly and be flexible with the day’s schedule or activities they were putting on was tremendous. The counselors handled everything that was thrown their way with incredible positivity and were willing to go out of their way to help campers, their fellow camp counselors, and Amanda and I in our professional roles. Also, the rest of the campus recreation department supporting the camp was another key component to the success of Aggie Rec Camp.
AB: I have to agree with both of Bailey’s comments. I would also have to say making the weekly themes for camp helped as well, especially for the returning campers who had a favorite week from previous camp years. I think creating different themes brings a different offering outside of the general camp scheduled activities we provided.
What are the top lessons you’ve learned in running the program?
BA: From an administrative point of view, making sure we have the registration process down is key. It makes the parent/guardian’s role so much easier. Also, always hire more camp counselors than you think you might need. This helps with preventing burnout and allows for some wiggle room when you have special events or field trips where you could always use some extra hands. Finally, always make sure you are stocked up on snacks for the kiddos.
What does prepping look like for summer 2022?
BA: We have a much better idea for a timeline of things that need to happen before next summer. From the hiring of camp counselors, purchasing of equipment, registration deadlines, etc. we are so much more prepared and ready to streamline the process of getting ready for camp. In addition to that, we have already begun brainstorming how we would like to expand our offerings.
AB: We have been very fortunate to have a few successful years. As such, we have created a general layout of camp that we can now just continue to build off of and offer more programs and camp specific activities. Now, we are planning what new field trips to incorporate next as well as new partnerships for programs on campus or within the community.
Image courtesy of Utah State University