The 5 biggest mistakes you can make when planning a camp
By: Tamara Grey
October 17, 2017
Camps are a fantastic way to bring a group of people together but as many of us can attest to, some camps make you wish you had stayed at home and enjoyed a netflix binge instead.
There are many simple mistakes that organisers can make when planning their camp that will make the difference between a ho-hum experience or one that ensures they will be back again the following year.
Here are 5 common mistakes you can avoid:
1. Not having a goal in mind
What sets most great camps apart from others is that they have a clear direction and goal in mind. It may be as simple as “getting to know others better” or “relaxing together” but if you don’t have a goal in place, you may discover that the people who attended didn’t see the purpose behind the event and will choose House of Cards over attending your next event.
It’s worth taking the time to consider what you hope people will get out of your camp and what activities or plans you can put in place to facilitate this. For example, if you want to ensure that your students meet people outside their normal friendship groups, you could start your camp off with mixer games that encourage them to talk to new students and help them identify things they have in common with each other, or when planning your activities, have a few where you make up the groups to ensure that everyone has a chance to mix.
2. Not fully utilising the onsite activities and facilities of your chosen camp site
Most camp sites have a great range of activities on site that you can utilise to make it different to a normal event. Camp sites often focus on teamwork activities, building group dynamics and these can be very effective for creating unique bonding experiences and memories within your event. Even ensuring you have booked the right room or facility for your camp can make a big difference. Does it have comfy couches for chatting? Can people make their own hot drinks?
Make sure you take the time to look through the options the camp site has and perhaps even call them to ask what suggestions they may have to make your camp work for your goals.
3. Not considering the demographic or age of their campers
One of the biggest considerations you should make when planning your camp is to consider who will attend and what they would like to get out of your camp. It’s easy to make the mistake of planning a camp that you would enjoy and forgetting that other may not feel the same way! When you sit down to write your program consider the following:
Age of the people attending - What kind of bedtime should you have? How busy should the program be? Should I have free time or pack the program out? Would my group like high quality coffee and drinks during the day, should I book the coffee machine for my camp?
The ebb and flow of people’s energy levels – Many people often feel tired after lunch, so quiet activities can work better. It’s often not a great idea to have someone speaking at length at this time! People often have lots of energy after breakfast and at the beginning of the camp, how can you utilise this? If you plan late night activities on the first night, it might be good to plan an early or relaxed evening for day two.
Introverts and Extroverts – Am I ensuring that there is enough group time and space for people to refuel on their own or together as necessary?
Intense activities and Relaxed Activities - Sometimes it's great to provide two options so your campers can choose what they would like to do. Having a high energy activity alongside a more chilled out activity will usually suit most peoples needs.
4. Not taking the time to read the paperwork supplied
If this is your first time planning a camp, the paperwork required to make it happen can sometimes seem overwhelming, making it easy to skim or completely ignore. Most camp sites have their paperwork and planning down to a fine art, so everything they send or require from your is to ensure that you camp planning is smooth and simple.
If you are struggling to understand it or don’t know why you need to do it, give your camp site a call! They are just as invested in making sure your camp is as success and will be happy to help you work through it.
This is particularly important if you receive a handbook or the like at the start. The information in this document will help you create a great experience and it’s important for you as the organiser to know how everything works.
5. Not having a backup plan in case of bad weather
All the planning and programming in the world can’t control the whimsical changes in the weather. So, put aside some time to think of what you will do if the weather doesn’t go according to plan. Many camp sites have an indoor stadium or ideas in their handbook if this occurs and are happy to help you brainstorm. Consider having a backup trivia game ready to go or movie available to show if you get stuck.
While the planning and programming of a camp can be a lot of hard work, the advantages and benefits of holding a camp are so great, we are confident that you will walk away from your event ready to book again!
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