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10 Fun Camp Traditions Any Camp Can Start

Traditions are an important part of camp.

  1. They bring campers and staff together (competitions, events, special meals)
  2. They provide a sense of comfort (routine, fond memories)
  3. They provide a sense of belonging (annual experiences that everyone can relate to and share)

Newer camps often find it difficult to create and/or choose traditions that will stand the test of time. In this post I give you 10 fun ideas that can work at just about any day or resident camp.

Accomplishment Rewards

Whether it be beads, badges, patches, pins or bandanas, campers (and staff) are driven to earn accomplishment awards. They enjoy collecting them, wearing them and showing the world that what they’ve earned.

rewards

Counselor for a Day

Make it a tradition that every year a select few get to be counselors for a day. You can choose your youngest campers or your oldest. Let them dress up like their counselor and lead the day, just like their counselor would. It is so much fun to watch them take control and responsibility of their groups. It’s also fun for the counselors who get to be campers for the day.

Five Year Awards

Reward campers who have been coming to camp for 5 years for their loyalty. Recognize them in front of the whole camp. Awards can be a paddle, camp letterman style jacket, framed photo, or anything else you can think of that campers will keep and cherish.

paddleAwards

Staff Necklace

Give each staff a necklace or bracelet with camp charm on it or made with specific camp colors. Staff will proudly wear them all summer and beyond. Campers will hope to one day be able to wear the camp staff necklace.

Camp Shirt Signing

On the last day bring out a ton of Sharpies and let the campers and staff sign each other’s t-shirts. Obviously this won’t work if your camp shirts are black or some other dark color. The shirt will become a treasured item and token of their wonderful camp experience.

shirt-signing

image property of gssjc.blogspot.com

Hunts

Hold an all camp treasure or scavenger hunt. It can be as simple as finding a Golden Smurf or something a little more difficult with campers being given a clue each day of where a well hidden item is.

One camp I know of offers daily clues. Once the item is found, there is a nature fact attached to it. The finder of the item gets to read the fact in front of everyone in the dining hall. Then the cheers go out for the treasure hunter.

First Day Competition

Kick off the week with a quick team competition to get the camaraderie rolling. We do a shoe kick by age. Another camp I know of does Capture the Flag on the first day. For both camps it has become a tradition. Campers know that there will be a shoe kick (or Capture the Flag) on the first day.

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Camp Names

Allow staff to either come up with their own camp name, or let the rest of the staff name each person at the end of staff training. You could even have a camp name ceremony.

Color War

This is a tradition for many camps that have rich histories. Campers and staff are all about it. To them Color War IS camp.

color games promo

Lucky Rock

At our camp all campers and staff touch the “Lucky Rock” (a boulder at the front of camp) for a good day. It’s tradition (after I started it 6 years ago). Anything can be “lucky”. It’s great if you have a story to go with it. The year after I started having everyone touch the Lucky Rock, one of our CIT’s refused to touch it. She made a big deal about how she didn’t need luck. That day she not only sat in pigeon poo, but a pigeon also dropped its “business” on her shoulder. After that EVERYONE started touching the lucky rock. The story has become legend, and it solidified the tradition. Thanks Bubbles for NOT touching the Lucky Rock on that fateful day.

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4 Comments

    • Yeah, I love camp names, obviously. The campers (and parents) think it is so fun that we have names like Moose, Giggles, Rocket, Skipper, etc. At the end of the week we go around and tell the campers our real names. The campers anxiously wait all week to find out. Once they find out they continue to call the staff by their camp names because it’s just more fun.

      I have learned to add the camp names to the tab of the staff’s employee files so that if an employer calls for a reference check I can remind myself that Susie is “Flipper”.

    • We line up the campers behind a rope and one by one they kick off one of their shoes as far as they can. The 3 shoes in each group that travel the furthest receive points for their teams. If they kick off their shoe and it goes behind them (which happens quite a bit) then they get one more chance to kick it forward. I also stand in the middle of the field and if a camper can hit me with their shoe they get bonus points. It almost never happens, but when it does the campers go nuts.

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