Theme of the Week – Wild West

Theme of the Week is a post where we ask readers like you to comment with ideas for a particular theme. What ideas and suggestions do you have? What game, craft, apparel choice, theme meal, evening activity, special event, song, skit, or anything else would you do at camp if your theme was…

 Wild West

I will always kick off the theme with five suggestions.

  1. Ask the campers to bring bandanas, boots, cowboy hats, and overalls.
  2. A theme meal of franks and beans with everyone dressed up is a must.
  3. Desperado is a great camp song that would fit in nicely with the Wild West theme.
  4. A Hoe Down would make the perfect evening activity. Try line dancing to disco music. It’s a blast!
  5. Native American folklore provides great campfire stories.


  • I love the Wild West theme. Here are 5 suggestions taken from what we do at camp.

    1. Before bed the counselors have cabin round table. This is where they talk about their day and we usually have a topic or question of the evening. One that we do for Wild West week is “Would you want to live in the Wild West days? Why or why not?”

    2. We bring in guests that do demonstrations and allow a few campers to participate. One is a trick roper and the other is an Native American who throw tomahawks with incredible accuracy.

    3. Dream Catchers are a popular craft that we do during this week.

    4. The older campers have an overnight where everyone rides horses to a an our special overnight area. The campers sleep outdoors near a campfire. Dinner is “cowboy grub”. You take a large piece of foil and add your choice of ground beef, onions, peppers, garlic, potatoes, salt and pepper, and cheese. Then add some water. Twist the top closed and set it on the grill over the fire. After it’s done (I think like 10 minutes) you can put ketchup on it or some more salt and pepper. It’s really good. At another camp we used to call it “hobo dinners”.

    5. We do hay rides. We are lucky enough to have the perfect horse drawn that’s perfect for this.

  • Thanks for doing this. I love the idea of a theme a day. Can you do pirates this week or next? Thank you.

    We don’t do a wild west theme but here are some ideas.

    – Leather crafts. Maybe you can get a branding iron with the camp logo and use it on the leather.
    – Horseshoes, of course.
    – Learn about the Indians of the area.
    – The camp wide game – Gold Rush
    – Bring in the daily mail like it just came in from the Pony Express.
    – Have a sheriff and jail.
    – Put up wanted posters around camp

  • Craig and Karen, excellent ideas.

    Karen, I’m going to have the third Theme of the Day be Pirates. Kids love that theme.

    Loretta, I agree line dancing IS always fun. I never line danced until I worked at a particular camp where the staff had to take turns leading the dances. That’s where we would line dance to disco music. When I first heard about it I thought the kids would hate it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They loved it! It was great.

  • Where do you look for trick ropers? I put an ad out on Craigslist but have gotten no responses. Better place to look? Did you know a Native American that threw the tomahawks or did you seek them out as well?

    This will be our first year doing theme weeks, I know one idea we had for Wild Wild West is a quick draw with bags of chocolate syrup and marshmallows to dip in and throw instead of guns.

    • Heather, I just saw your comment. I don’t know about tomahawk throwing Native Americans but at a camp I used to work at we hired a trick roper as well. That was in the San Francisco Bay Area and we found him thanks to another camp. We have found some good special guests by asking our friends at the local library as well. Finally, we find most of our guests just by searching the internet for specifically what we’re looking for with our area.

  • Craig,

    What do you guys use to make he dreamcatcher frame? We are a no/low profit camp and am always looking for cheaper alternatives for crafts

    • I’m no crafts expert but at a camp I used to work at we would use sticks/branches that were found around camp. I don’t know if the crafts director would just search around camp for bendable sticks that were on the ground or she would soak them in something to make them more flexible. Then we would use yarn or string. Add some feathers and beads and your good to go.

  • Hi there!
    I read your great ideas on this page, I love them!
    I’m a scouting leader from the Netherlands. In summer we go with our scoutinggroup on Indian-camp.
    I went once before on indian summercamp. We let the childern make their own teepee. The grown ups make tripods from 3 poles and rope. Around the tripods we make a white sheet. The childern painted the sheet. It was very much fun!
    I’m sorry if my English is not very well, some words I translated from dutch to english

    • Hi Inge, thanks for the nice comments. I love the idea of making teepees that the campers have “decorated”. Very cool.

  • Having Native American folklore from local tribes, or tribes the camp is named for (since there are A LOT of them named for native words out east) is a great idea! But for a Wild West theme a lot of the Coyote/Trickster stories would be great, as long as they are appropriate (please read the stories first, lest you night end up telling campers some naughty details).

    We’ve added watermelon seed spitting, making up our own line dances, and roping to the activities. If you don’t have materials or the know-how to actually rope, we once decided to do “roping” with hula-hoops and barrels, and I was shocked at how well some campers could aim their hula hoop!

    • At one camp I worked at we did line dancing to disco music. The one I would normally lead was “Car Wash” by Rose Royce.

  • I am planning a western theme this year. Kind of a Family Vacation at the dude ranch thing. I am going to get bags of plastic cows and horses to scatter for a “roundup” game. I am also going to bring back my panning for gold station, I may add a twist of having a trading post that they can weigh and trade their gold for trinkets. I have painted horse and cow heads that we attach to saw horses for a roping station. I have done a relay game around the Pony Express as well.

  • There isn’t a ‘Wild West theme’ (some of the Farm/Harvest ideas would work as Liz mentioned) …but the KidActivities site has tons of wonerful themes listed in the categories column–as well as other things that would be wonderful for a day camp or overnight camp 🙂

  • I am planning my “Cowboy/Girl camp for Preschoolers this summer.Some suggestions for a full week are: Making butter, it is very easy to make and can be shaken to consistancy in babyfood jars. Panning for Gold, making bandanas I go to Color Tyme and you can purchase pre-printed bandanas that the kids can color with perminate markers, making wanted posters out of wet brown paper bags and wrinkling them up and letting them dry in the sun!!

    • Missy, we don’t pan for gold at our camp but I have heard of other camps doing that. I was hoping someone would answer your comment. I Googled “how to pan for gold” and it looks as though some sites have instructions, gear, and more. Good luck.

  • We are having Cowboy Reenactors at our day camp who will demonstrate axe throwing etc, also local OA will bring in Indian teepee etc, also have a Indian reenactor hopefully coming bring a display of skins etc

    • Are the reenactors expensive, Karen? I fond that having people come in to perform or share can be a real hit to the budget. Of course, if you already have that built into the budget than I guess you’re good to go.

  • I’m serving as the PD for Cub Scout Day Camp this year and am setting up a mining camp too. I’ll be using a kiddie pool filled with fossil rock (from Aurora), mud, gold painted rocks and arrow heads (and probably some other stuff too). Getting some pyrite to use as the “real” gold and using some solid bricks to spray paint for the Tigers to turn in to the trading post. (Krylon gold works great.)
    While doing this set up, I discovered that NC was the leading producer of gold during the early 1800’s, so I’m tying that in too using a modern highlighted map to show how close they really live to the REAL stuff and where they can find modern mines for their own family field trips.
    Gonna be a way for everyone to get a little wet and to also work towards some achievements too.
    Thanks to all for the comments above. They are helpful to us newbies.

  • We had a western week last summer and the kids had a blast. Each camper was given a job in Rattle Snake Cove whether it was shop keeper or sheriff. They all used their “money” to buy squirt guns and dinner (candy). We then had them herd “cattle” (beach balls) from one place to another and they got raided by the outlaws. Overall a super fun all camp activity!

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