Step 2: Figuring out what's going to happen at your camp

The first step is to figure out some idea of what you want to do at your camp. This is a little tricky, because you probably won't really know what you're doing at your camp until the second to last week of your first summer or so, but you need to have something to say to people in order to get started.

Here's what we did:

We knew that camp would have two main components:

1. hands-on activities: all the activities that we were going to do were going to be hands-on.

2. freedom: kids were going to have the freedom to do whatever they wanted to at camp (as long as they didn't infringe on other people's freedom) -- our projects, their own projects, or just play.

Then you have to flesh out that theory enough to be able to describe how one single day will run. In our case, that meant thinking of a handful of cool projects for kids to do and make (robots! kites! make computer games! build robots!) and then explaining that we were going to offer campers these sorts of activities throughout the day. The kicker to the spiel was explaining that we were in effect providing kids with an initial spark of inspiration, and once they fell in love with an activity, we would give them the room to do it all day if they wanted and take off with it.

This last paragraph is part of a spiel I've given hundreds of times now. Practice your spiel with your friends and colleagues in planning the camp. It will get clearer and clearer the more you give it. There's going to be a slight wariness from parents when they consider sending their kids to a camp running in its first year: it's best if you can capture the magic of your future summner camp in your spiel to offset that worry.

You'll find, as you talk about your project, that you'll use the same words over and over again.  Our words were/are "discovery", "inquiry", "inspiration", "creativity".  Turn these words into a sentence.  Make a list of what you think would be the coolest things to do each day and call it an 'activities list'.  Now you have a plan.  And most of a brochure.

This plan can, should, and will change.  "Freedom" sounds nice.  What about when a kids wants to watch anime music videos of pop songs on youTube all day?  We had our answers, you'll have yours.  But it's good to start with something.

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<p>Summer camp by NHTPL</p>
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<p>Hi, I was just browsing around in google search and found this website. I'm planning a youth camp for 2 years later. I just saw something like Liability &amp; medical insurance. My question is how can i get that, because the camp I'm planning is for DEAF middle/high schools. They are attending to deaf school. Let me know, THANKS!</p>
<p>We have someone who is very keen to start a summer camp in Oman. If any of you guys are interested please contact us on apply@jobibex.com or visit <a href="http://www.jobibex.com" rel="nofollow"> www.jobibex.com </a> and post your resume as a summer camp operator/planner.</p><p>Remind you, Summer in Oman is equivalent to winter in MA with slightly change in the sign next to the temperature:)</p>
<p>I am a teacher and have created several summer camps for my kids and their friends, as well as for schools. I had an idea that it might be fun to have a camp based on the book (or something similar) The Daring Book for Girls or 100 things all girls should know. Anyone out there already invent this wheel? :)</p>
<p>Hello Mr Nagle,</p><p>Thank you very much for this piece as i find it very helpful and Important.</p><p>I am from Nigeria, and i started had started a summer-camp here in my city about August of 2013.</p><p>I thereby follow I full course all of your guidelines in that write as accurate.</p><p>Our camp centers as a purpose driven entertainment and leadership camp event, which will also be having certain celebrities from various industries such as: music, art, fashion, Movies and the rest, visit and enlighten them about life realities in practical terms. We believe edutainment is a truthful way of encouraging our teenagers for the reality of the future. It's for ages 13-19.</p><p>The camp also has other features such as the sports, dinner, awards, Entrepreneurship build-up, Career talks, orphanage visit and more.</p><p>I am a young graduate, and I'm growing.</p><p>I have been able to secure all the necessaries including the location, registration(licence), dedicated team members &amp; staff and stated camp activities for the week.</p><p>Where I have challenge now is about getting campers...</p><p>Yea!!! Publicity, and the rest. Does require quite some fund.</p><p>I need a website, designed brochure and many other certain materials..</p><p>I couldn't raise money for publicity anymore. What can I do please. Do get campers</p><p>Opeyemi</p><p>Lagos, Nigeria</p>
<p>Hi Opeyemi,</p><p>Thanks for writing! How is your project going? How has finding people gone?</p><p>I'd suggest two things:</p><p>1. You can make a website with tools on the web, like Weebly or perhaps Wordpress. I would put something up to start. You can refine it and improve its look as you go.</p><p>2. The real way we got momentum was by running free workshops on weekends -- about an afternoon long. This was a form of getting the word out that showed children and family what it would be like to come to our program. Maybe something like this would work for you. </p><p>Let me know how your program is going!</p><p>~Nagle</p>
<p>Hey guys,</p><p>So me and my friends want to make a summer camp but we are not sure if we need licensing since we are only 15 years old. Can someone reply if you have and answer? It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you</p>
<p>Hey!</p><p>If you're doing something beyond just you and your friends and kids you already know, you'd need a license. If it's informal and it's just you and younger kids you know getting together for a few weeks then I think you can just work out that with the relevant families.</p><p>You should get in touch with your city hall to find the licensing rules, but I can 99% guarantee you'll need to find an 18+-year-old to sponsor your project. Why don't you check it out and check back in here as it develops?</p>
Hello Nagle <br><br>I'm going to start a summer program. How do I come up with a name that evolves around children k-5. _______ summer program.
<p>Hey :)</p><p>Well, what do you want the kids to do at your summer camp?</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>So cool to find this instructable written by you! My kids were at Camp K. early on and my son is at P&amp;C this summer. So just a plug that the camps Nagle created were/are great and well received. <br><br>Any advice on promoting a new camp? I have a meetup that teaches women technology (front-end development) and I am considering creating a similar camp for girls summer 2016. I have sponsorship from two local high tech firms, one of which may be open to sponsoring the camp/providing a location.<br><br>Best, Sara</p>
<p>Hi Sara!</p><p>That's cool that we get a chance to re-connect here.</p><p>I'm happy to brainstorm with you or think more about what this would look like. My email is mpnagle atsign gmail dot com. One thought is if you would want to do something on your own or partner with the Cambridge non-profit Science Club for Girls. Maybe check out their web site -- I could make an introduction if helpful.</p>
Any thoughts about opening a camp kids stay at (sleep)? Specifically in regards to cost. Also what are the laws, for any camp, about running it on your own property? I'm from MA.
Great article. A friend and i have the idea of starting our own inner city sports camp in Brooklyn nyc. We know that we will have access to use a church and we know itll be 8 weeks long, starting july 6th which gives us just under two months to get it off the ground. My question to you is do you think 2 months is enough time to completely create and launch the camp successfully? Was your experience worth it? Or are we in way over our heads... Thanks!
<p>You can do it put your back into it!</p><p>Yes, totally possible. I launched Camp K. with less lead time. Finding kids will be tough. You may settle on a low cap like 10. Or trying to do weeks like first / last week of summer when camps often don't run. That will be your main concern, but it's totally doable, and you'll have something to reflect on in the fall for next time. I feel like it's worth getting the ball rolling. You should post here if you do keep going and keep us posted :)</p>
<p>hey guys, I am an Elementary Education Major in my final semester, and my friend and I are thinking of opening up a tiny summer camp in 6 weeks. We want a maximum of 10 children per week. I have a few questions I was hoping you guys could help me with! </p><p>1) can I run this camp out of my house? If not, I can rent a space, but would I have to have insurance for this? </p><p>2) do I need insurance for the camp? if so how much would it cost? </p><p>3) what type of documents do I need to have the parents sign in order to release liability for driving and such? </p><p>Please help! </p>
<p>hey!</p><p>that's great! i hope you make it happen!</p><p>your answers are going to be specific to your state and city. you should get in touch with someone at probably your city hall, and they will be able to answer these questions for you. there should be a safety office that does licensing for educational programs and specifically camps that you can talk to.</p><p>why don't you start there and write back as that evolves?</p>
<p>Summer can not get here soon enough! I've applied to work at a couple camps this summer, but I haven't heard back yet. It's something I always wanted to do though. If I enjoy it enough maybe I'll think about starting my own summer camp someday. I never really thought about that before.<br><br>http://www.kidsclubchildcare.com/</p>
At my summer camp if we get in trouble they just tell your parents
&nbsp;Geez! You are making me get hyped up about summer already! I have 7 weeks left then final exams.&nbsp;
I would like all of your advice an information for starting a camp. I have the motivation and imagination as to starting a camp. Along with that motivation , i have heart, and i think that is a key element in teaching, and helping kids. From a young teacher, to a more wiser teacher, i am asking for your advice and help to make my dream come true. When you find the time, if you could contact me on my email at johnreynolds42aaron@yahoo.com, I would greatly appreciate it. thank you for your time, and i look forward to hearing from you. <br />
Although it is only pocket change, the fact of having to pay for the information that you are providing in order to help people, is somewhat disheartening. I&nbsp;was quite excited&nbsp;to find that there are people out there with positive ideas and plans&nbsp;to help&nbsp;kids to be able partake in and learn important life building skills that we all need to realize before we can lead a richer fuller more appreciative life. But none the less i do not have a credit card, nor do i want one, but i will not let this stand in my way. I would enjoy to hear from you (the organizer) as i have some questions i qould like to run past u, as i have a few very lucrative propositions to discuss. If you would&nbsp;be so kind as to get a hold of me at <a href="mailto:anislandkid85@gmail.com" rel="nofollow">anislandkid85@gmail.com</a> that would be great.<br /> Thanx for your time!&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Brandon
We would like all ideas for starting a camp for kids. Thank you. Doug and Dawn Stnrddn@yahoo.com
We need too talk. My wife and I are going to start a opportunities camp for kids and for others. I have a story to tell you about when I was 14 and what to start up a camp. Please contact me at stnrddn@yahoo.com or 503 391-4649 PO Box 1184 Aumsville,Or 97325 Thank you, Doug and Dawn Stenerodden
Can I use the same concept to start a cult? :D
Juklop ,you could but remember everything has a price and I'm quite sure you dont want to pay for that.
I thought this site was very helpful. However I have a question? What do you do for money during the rest of the year. How do you generate an income to support your living expenses during the year?
I found that running a camp gives you a tremendous amount of reputation and social capital, making it possible to <br/><br/><ul class="curly"><li>run afterschool programs (I did some in hands-on science; some in creative math activities)</li><li>run classes for homeschoolers</li><li>tutor</li><br/></ul>and this how I supported myself for the 2 school years after the 1st and 2nd summers.<br/><br/>After the third summer (this past year,) I tried launching <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thekaleidoscopecenter.org">The Kaleidoscope Center</a> -- a homeschooling center based off of the same principles. It got going (and is still going!) but I felt like it wasn't the right fit for me. I've taken the past 6 months, living off of the savings I have from camp to fix a major neck problem I'd had for 3 years (I wrote about it at my health blog at michaelnagle.org) and to start a community science center called <a rel="nofollow" href="http://sproutward.org">sprout!</a><br/><br/>Of particular note there is that while after the first summer we just broke even (I made $2,500 over the summer), the second and third summers were both profitable enough to live for the remainder of the year, frugally (I made about $15 - 20k , closer to $15k, each summer.)<br/>
It seems to be a very good instructable for a day care or something, but what was described here does not sound like a summer camp to me. Summercamp is outdoors, and involves actual camping (ya know, in tents). Still quite good, just not what i expected when i clicked the link.
elbel, if I understand correctly, I think this is designed more for a day camp than an overnight or "sleep-away" camp. A lot of kids go to camps where they are dropped of in the morning and picked up when their parents get out of work. So yeah, it is kind of like a really sweet daycare with a lot of fun organized activities and education mixed in. :-) Though you could do something like this with kids in dorms or cabins. There are sleep-away science camps at research facilities and stuff.
<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=136459,00.html">public charity/private foundation</a><br/>this page seems to outline info on public charity vs private foundation<br/>

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Bio: It's me, Prince Nagle Nagle!
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