Pinterest is a GREAT place to bookmark and share ideas. I have a Summer Camp board that I add and refer to for ideas often.
As with any list of ideas that we keep of things we want to do or incorporate at camp, or in our personal lives, most, if not all, are never attempted. If you have a camp Pinterest board, how many of the pins have you tried?
Here are some that I made happen, as well as what I thought of them. Click on the images to be taken to the website they camp from for more information.
1. Marshmallow Shooter
I went to Home Depot and gathered the supplies for two shooters. I went home and cut the PVC pipe and assembled them both. Then I headed over to the grocery store to pick up some mini marshmallows. After that, one of my staff and I did a little target practice. These things rocked! We were surprised at how far and accurate we could blow out the marshmallows.
We decided to set up a shooting gallery for the campers for theme day. As soon as we brought out the shooters, the kid’s eyes went wide with excitement. That was, until they tried them out. We quickly learned that the younger campers had a difficult time blowing out the marshmallow effectively. A few of them even inhaled the marshmallow. Nobody choked but once one camper swallowed a marshmallow they all wanted to.
VERDICT: These are a lot of fun for many of the teens and adults (and the 5% of younger campers that could actually do it). They will not be making another appearance at our main camp, however they will stay around for our specialty teen camps.
Looking at the picture here this activity seemed like it would be a lot of fun. I already had a couple of milk crates and we used our tug-of-war rope. So far so good. We paired off some campers and had the others gather around to watch the competition.
The first 2 boys got up, and at the sound of the whistle they began pulling. One of the boys cleverly gave some slack and then pulled hard. He pulled the other boy right off who then hit the ground with his chest and face. We immediately implemented the rule that you could not give any slack, you could only pull the rope. We didn’t want campers to just let go of the rope and have some poor kid fall backwards.
The next two were up and they did fine. The two girls had a good battle and nobody got hurt.
Then two of our older campers (5th graders) got on the milk crates and grabbed the rope. At the whistle blast they both leaned back and pulled. One of the boys tilted the milk crate up by leaning back too far, and the milk crate slipped from under his feet. He came down with a loud “thwap” and hit his head on the grassy ground. He was okay, but I knew right then that this was a dangerous way to play one-on-one tug-of-war.
VERDICT: This is not safe. We play tug-of-war at camp often, and we have learned how to make it as safe as possible. When you add an unstable, elevated platform to the mix, you’re asking for injuries. Lesson learned.
3. Passing Practice
For “passing practice” I got a tarp and cut holes in it just like the pin showed. Then I added duct tape around the edges of the holes. Once the holes were cut the tarp wasn’t so easy to fold and I felt like it was going to rip. We hung it up between two trees at camp. We then gave the campers the opportunity to throw a football through the holes. Many of the campers missed and hit the tarp instead. The football was too heavy and it started tearing the holes we made to secure the tarp to the trees. The target holes were fine, however. So we switched to foam dodgeballs and Koosh balls. Both worked fine.
It took some time to get the right distance down. We ended up making the passing line 10-15 feet away, depending on the age of the camper.
VERDICT: The Passing Practice game was a hit. We used it multiple times. My only suggestion is to get a good, heavy duty tarp, not one of the cheapo tarps. Make sure you duct tape any and all holes. You can rope or bungee it up between two trees or poles. We will bring it back next year for sure.
4. Glow-In-The-Dark Mountain Dew
When I first heard about this and saw the video I thought, “How cool is that?! This will be great to do on one of our overnights!” So I went out and got the ingredients. I wanted to make sure I added the right amount of each ingredient to make it glow before I took all the supplies to the campsite and had the campers do it.
VERDICT: This DOES NOT work! It’s a hoax. You can read about it here.
When it failed to work, I decided to get online and see if I had the wrong instructions. That’s when I found out I had been duped. I felt silly for getting excited and buying all the supplies. I’m glad I didn’t wait to try it in front of the campers.
5. Duct Tape Beads
At camp we have a bead program. I am always trying to find new, unique beads for the campers and staff. So when I saw these beads I was intrigued. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take to make them or if they would even come out looking like they do in the picture, but I was willing to give it a shot.
VERDICT: They turned out great – just as advertised. I decided to use them as the “Theme Master” bead for the staff, who thought they were just as cool as I did. I made it a staff bead so we wouldn’t need to make that many, as they do take time to create. The wonderful thing about this idea is that you can create different styles of beads depending on the duct tape you use. I used some sweet tie-dye duct tape.
6. Art Supply Jockey
When I saw this pin I was excited. Our arts and crafts leader stays mobile. Since we don’t have an arts and crafts shed, she needs to be able to take supplies to different areas. For bigger projects she has a cart, but I thought for smaller projects she can just use a paint bucket with a tool organizer (or tool jockey).
VERDICT: After getting the bucket and tool organizer (which you can get at any hardware store or online) I placed the craft supplies that are used the most into the organizer and bucket. It worked pretty well, but it just couldn’t carry everything my crafts leader needed. She ended up putting the bucket in the cart. It was still useful to keep certain things organized (as was the large tool box she uses and the multiple crafts boxes that get destroyed every summer).
The tool jockey and bucket are very durable and will stay in rotation as a craft organizer at camp.
7. Story Bags
There are certain times at camp when groups are waiting for an activity or sitting around waiting for an instructor. During these times the campers are either content socializing with each other, or they begin to get restless. If they are a restless bunch, the counselors have different hip-pocket activities they can lead to keep the group engaged and entertained.
When I saw this pin I thought it would be another hip-pocket activity to add to the mix. It was something they could keep in their backpack and pull out when needed. I found some canvas bags online and bought little wooden objects from Michaels (similar to the ones on the post this pin came from).
VERDICT: I think these are great, but the staff didn’t like using them. They said that it slowed the storytelling down and campers wanted to re-choose their wooden object if they didn’t like the one they got. I will continue to offer the story bags to my staff but will not force them to take one or to use them. I may just put out a bunch of items on a table and have each counselor choose 10 items to put in his or her story bag so that it is more personalized.
8. Ring Toss
This pin was just a picture without instructions. I think someone was making and selling them on Ebay. However, I love PVC pipe, and making this seemed doable. So I went to the hardware store and picked up some PVC and tubing and went to work. After I made two sets of these we tried them out at camp.
VERDICT: They worked great. As with any carnival-type game, it’s not easy to do. A few of the campers and staff found it to be a lot of fun and challenging, in a good way, others preferred to toss bean bags through a hole. It’s all a matter of preference, which is why having a ring toss AND a bean bag toss is ideal.
We will be keeping these around.
9. Scratch Off Lottery Tickets
How cool would it be to make scratch-off lottery tickets for staff as a reward? That’s what I thought when I saw this pin. So, I went and got all the supplies and began production. I figured I would make each one a different prize. There would be multiple ways staff could earn a ticket. And, yes, some of them would be “Try Again”.
VERDICT: I made 4 of them to start. The process proved to be more difficult and time-consuming then I thought it would be. The paint mixture kept clumping up and didn’t look like the picture. When I scratched it off it worked pretty well, but not great. Overall I figured the time and energy it took to make these properly was better spent on other projects. So I scrapped this one.
There are slight variations across the web on making these tickets. Look around and you may find a tutorial that you like better.
10. Foam Lightsabers
If you have a Star Wars theme at camp, you’ll need to supply lightsabers. When I saw these I thought, “There’s a cool craft that the campers will enjoy, and they won’t get hurt when they inevitably hit each other with the sabers.”
I went to the dollar store and gathered as many pool noodles I could find. I then cut them all in half and brought them to camp. We set out the foam and the duct tape and showed the campers a few example lightsabers.
VERDICT: The campers went ballistic! The craft was easy and they had a cool lightsaber that they could actually use. We, of course, set some boundaries on the use of them. We also created a series of games/competitions so the campers could use the lightsabers safely.
FYI – Nobody wanted the funky shaped noodles. They all wanted the round ones.
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