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Years ago, I worked at a resident camp in Maryland where I was a village chief (unit leader) for the middle school boys cabins. I ran a side program called Iroq Rangers. My group of cabins was called the Iroquois Village, which is how I got the name Iroq for this program.
The program was optional for the boys that wanted to participate. I recruited a couple of my counselors to help out, and we promoted the program as being for the hard-core campers.
Free Choice Programming
At the beginning of the session campers were able to choose “free choice” programs that they attended each day along with their normal activities. The Iroq Rangers program was only for the middle school boys.
For those that signed up for the program we taught them different outdoor survival techniques, knot tying, camouflaging, shelter building, etc. We also did some treasure and scavenger hunts, as well as some team-building.
Morning PT and FitDecks
Every other morning we got up a little earlier than the rest of camp and did PT (physical training). I used the FitDeck cards. FitDecks are special decks of playing cards. Each card has either a movement, stretch or exercise on it with illustrations and instructions. The movements, stretches and exercises require no equipment. They require only a person’s body-weight to perform. We used the ones designed for kids. These days FitDecks come in all sorts of varieties, from Navy Seal to Speed and Agility decks. They are great for fitness programs or just for personal use.
After some PT, we would go for a short run around parts of camp that the campers hadn’t seen before, kind of a behind-the-scenes run, which made it a special experience for them.
After Lights Out
The camp sessions were two weeks long. On one night of each week we woke the Rangers up for late night fun. We had them dress in dark colors and used camo paint for their faces. Then we divided the campers into two teams.
At first the campers were groggy and wondering what was going on, but soon they were excited and felt “special” because they were the only ones allowed to be out of bed at midnight.
We had them bring their flashlights and gave each of them Super Soakers. Then we played capture the flag in a wooded area away from the cabins. The woods were eery at night so the campers stayed together. There were plenty of places to hide as well. If you got squirted you were out and had to return to a specified location. After the game was over they wanted to play again…so we did. Once we were done the campers and staff cleaned up and hit the sack.
At the end of the session I awarded each of the Rangers a certificate and Iroq Ranger’s sticker that I made on a sticker machine. The campers that opted to be a part of the program talked about it so much that other campers had wished they’d done it. That was nice to hear.
What special programs have you or other staff members started that was unique to the camp?