Do You Have Program Binders?

I was at the book store today and came across a magazine of easy to do crafts. Since we have a new arts and crafts counselor, who is trying to get a feel for what crafts she should offer this summer, I thought I would take a look at the mag. It had some great ideas that would work well for camp. I also new that I had some good craft ideas, thanks to our email round tables, and that I had been randomly collecting craft ideas from various websites. With the magazine, I wasn’t sure if I should tear out the crafts that would work or just give her the magazine. Then it hit me, “Why not start an Arts and Crafts Binder?”

I can admit that I’m not the most organized person. I have loose sheets of paper with games, crafts, songs, skits, hunts, camp wide activities and more spread out all over my desk, in separate files and in different folders on my work and home computers. I have a couple of binders with games and songs, but not all of what I have are in there. Why not? Why have I not created a bunch of binders in specific categories for my staff to look through?

Now, I know that many of you are more organized than me and probably have exactly what I am talking about. If that’s the case then either move on to one of my other posts or leave a comment below with how you organize everything.

On the other hand, if you’re like me then consider creating binders for:

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Icebreakers
  • Cabin Games
  • Group Games
  • Skits
  • Songs
  • Camp Wide Games and Activities
  • Theme Specific Ideas
  • Pool Activities
  • Team-building
  • Ropes Course
  • Counselor Tips and Tricks
  • Archery
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfront Activities
  • Evening Vespers and Ceremonies

I’m sure you can think of some more.

So where do you get the info to put in these binders?

  • Magazines
  • Photocopies from books
  • Internet (see the next post)
  • Printables from Family Fun website
  • Have experienced staff write our their contributions. They’ll be immortalized in the binder.
  • Past activities typed out by YOU!

Make it your mission to create the best Program Binders you possibly can.


    • A Vesper literally means “evening prayer” or “evening service”. A camp vesper is an evening activity (it can be early in the morning but that is rare) that is meaningful and inspirational. It is a time to reflect on your time at camp, the friendships made and for the camp leaders to convey a specific value or moral lesson, etc. Camps that do vespers all seem to do them a little differently. Many times meaningful stories conveying messages are presented by a storyteller or through dramatic performance. Camps have a specific way that they go through the evening that is filled with traditions. When done right, a vesper can be the best part of camp (for campers and staff). A good overview of a vesper program can be found by clicking here.

  • Curt… yes!!! My daycamp/after school program uses binders. Since I’ve became a supervisor I have made it a point to keep all past lesson plans, etc. Currently we have binders for: Gym Games, Recipes, Past Clubs, A “Resource” binder. I’m currently working on a binders for each of our specific summer themes. I’m also working on a “Big book O’ Dodgeball (key word working). Also at my house I have my personal binder of everything that I’ve brought to my program.

    • That’s the way to do it, Cody. Awesome. I’m inspired to create multiple binders for just about everything I can think of. I too have started binders for theme weeks. It makes life so much easier.

  • Hi Moose,
    Two points that you might find useful:

    1) If you are creating a manaul for each program area, you need to include maintenance of the binder as a requirement for the program staff and follow up on it. Otherwise the binder gets lost, damaged, or generally unhelpful within a few summers.

    2)If your staff use computers, consider setting up an internal wiki through something like google sites. That way staff can easily modify previous entries and add new ones without having to keep track of physical binders.

    All the best

  • I had the same lightbulb moment not too long ago. Every summer we have a new crop of counselors and we always invariably get one that has no idea how to conduct an activity so I thouugh “what if there was a manual they could look at?” The only problem has been finding the necessary information to fill these binders with

    • I agree, but I ma finding information from the internet, books, magazines, past conference and workshop notes, having staff write up their favorites and ACA. Good luck with the project, Mr. Kizzy.

  • I love love love our program binder. Its almost turned into a scrapbook since there is so much stuff. We have what we call “The Big o’ Book of Camp” and we leave it in my office. Its seperated into 4 parts; General, Crafts, Nature, Rainy Days. Anytime a counselor has a genius idea, that works effectively, they can add it to the book. Sometimes they go all out and dedicate a whole page to the book for their activity and add in decorations and make it their own. We have over 300 pages of games and ideas.

    • That’s awesome, Brindi. I imagine this old, tattered book with pages spilling out. Like something Indiana Jones would find on a treasure hunt. Of course, I am sure that it looks nothing like that, but it’s neat to imagine it.

  • We have “red binders” that we use- one for each activity. So waterskiing, soccer, arts & crafts, dance, riding, canoe, sail, swimming, etc… all have their own binder. We keep lesson plans, camp standards, examples from the past, inventories from past years, and the like. At the end of each summer we also ask the current activity counselor to write a letter to the next summer’s counselor (even if they think it will be themselves again!). At the start of each summer the counselors go through and organize/pare down/clean up the binders. It works great to keep consistency from year to year while still letting the counselors add in new ideas and new ways of doing things.

  • We use what we call a “game rolodex”: games printed on 3×5 cards and held together with a binder ring. They’re kept in the leaders’ backpacks and can be pulled out when you’re in a pinch and save the day.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.