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Step 3: Finding a place to have camp

Once you've got an idea of how your camp is going to run, you're going to want to start getting kids on board. Before you can do that though, you're going to have a place to have it, so that parents can figure out whether or not they can bring their kids to your site.

Churches are an excellent resource (as are synagogues, temples, and other religious centers used primarily on weekends.) We found space our first two summers by calling up a ridiculous number of churches and asking around until we found a space that was free for the summer. Incidentally, this turns out to be a great to chance to refine your spiel about camp before giving it to families who might attend.

Small churches are more likely to be helpful than big ones.  Religious organizations are almost always looking for ways to get involved in helping out the community, and bigger institutions are more likely to already be well connected, and, consequently, booked up, than small ones.  In college towns like Boston, places that cater to the college community are going to be almost empty during the summer and are likely to be pretty enthusiastic about someone using their space for something cool.

Some religious sects have more hierarchy and bureaucracy than others.  Unaffiliated churches are great.  The fewer levels of bureaucracy that have to approve your use of the church, the faster you're going to get answers and the more likely you are to get good answers.

Schools are another possibility -- many are unused during the summer. Calling up the local school board or schools themselfves has never gotten me anywhere. Due to liability issues, only a few people in the school system actually have the authority to let a school be used by another organization. The easiest way to get school space is to either utilize or make a personal connection, who can then navigate the hierarchies of power to get your space use approved. I've heard some people recommend calling principals directly, though this hasn't really worked for us. 

Getting cooperation from the local school system is probably something that you can get after you've done camp for a year or two and have some established credibility.  We were eventually given space to use for Camp K one summer by the local school system and spent that summer in a school building.  The next year we went right back to a synagogue -- there was too much arbitrary oversight, hierarchy, and bureaucracy for us to be entirely comfortable in their space. 

Features to look for in a space include:

Being near a park or other play areas. If you're giving kids' freedom, you'll want to give them ample space to run around and play.

Being near public transportation. This opens the world up to field trips and the exciting adventures of taking kids on busses and subways!

Having parking nearby. Last summer we were in the heart of urban congestion -- Harvard Square, and there was no parking less than a 10 minute walk away. Whoever owned the street we were on (and how someone can own a street is beyond me) had hired a towing company to send a tow truck up and down the street we were on 24 HOURS A DAY. Counselors had to race outside out to fend off the tow trucks when a parent parked for three minutes to pick up their kid -- it was like playing Choplifter.

Having more than one room to use. This isn't necessary -- we did without it our first year, but it can be really nice to have separate spaces to run activities with a small subgroup. We've tended towards labelling one area as the soft/quiet area, full of pillows, quiet voices, and chill activities, so that kids can escape the high-energy parts of camp when they need to.

And, lastly, people in charge who are excited about what you're doing.  I can't stress this enough.  If you don't think it's a problem for kids to run down the empty hallway on the way to the gym, but the people who own the space do, you're going to find yourself constantly having to enforce rules that you don't believe in.  This slowly saps your credibility as well as your enthusiasm.  If someone in a position of authority is going to periodically poke their head into the electronics take-apart area and tell you warningly that it's very messy, you're going to have a lot less fun, and be a lot less creative, than you would be if you felt able to use your own judgments.

Additionally, the site coordinator will want to know that you are going to be licensed, provide liability and accident insurance for the site, and are doing background checks on your staff. Licensing and insurance are contingent on having a site, but in my experience all the coordinators want to know is that you will get those things done and provide them with copies of the relevant paperwork once you have them.
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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>

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