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The Golden Dustpan – 10 Ways to Help You Win the Cleanest Cabin Award

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One of the things that resident camp directors like to see are clean cabins. As any counselor will tell you some cabin groups are tough to motivate when it comes time to clean the cabin each day.

Many camps have some sort of clean cabin award or recognition program. One of the camps that I used to work at had the Golden Dustpan. It was a dustpan spray painted gold and each cabin wanted it – they wanted it bad.

There are times when the camp staff checking the cabins cannot decide which cabin is cleanest. When campers buy into the clean cabin award they will go out of their way to make sure their cabin is spotless. Of course, you’ll always have those few cabins that just don’t care. Those pigsties are usually the result of a counselor who doesn’t care, and it rubs off on the campers. But, I digress. When the cleanest cabin competition becomes too close to call, try adding these over-the-top extras to help sway the judge’s minds.

    1. Create a welcome message outside the door of the cabin with rocks – “Cabin 11 Rocks!” or “Welcome to our Rockin’ cabin.”
    2. If everybody has a stuffed animal, set them up either on the beds or in scenes, like four bears having tea.
    3. Leave a bribe like a candy bar, lanyard, or friendship bracelet. (Yes, I said “bribe”. Don’t judge me.)
    4. Flatter them. Leave a note telling the judges how wonderful they are. Have all the campers sign it.
    5. Make sure that all the bunk beds look identical. If one camper has his or her luggage at the end of the bed then all campers in the cabin should have their luggage at the end of the bed.
    6. Using pillows and the counselor’s clothes, create a dummy sitting in a chair, welcoming the judges.
    7. Clean the outside of the cabin. I don’t mean wash the walls or anything. Just clear the outside of your cabin of pine cones, leaves, etc. Then leave a note for the judges explaining the extra lengths the campers went to.
    8. Take fallen leaves, fallen branches, some rocks, etc. and create a natural art piece to display in the cabin.
    9. Beg. Leave a note that you really want to win and that the campers worked their little fingers to the bones cleaning the cabin.
    10. Get other suggestions from your campers on the first day of camp. Show them that you really want to win the award.

Okay, some of the ideas are a bit…unscrupulous. What can I say? Seriously though, have fun with it. Make cleaning the cabin an enjoyable experience. Campers learn some great lessons at camp, and the good feeling that comes from keeping things tidy and clean is one of them.


  • A couple of years ago, we had a cabin that won cleanest cabin almost EVERY DAY. At the end of camp, they gleefully announced that they had achieved this by packing up all their dirty clothes in trash bags and hiding them in the woods behind the cabins. The moral of the story is that 3 of them ended up with poison ivy.. 😉

  • You could also try making bouquets of flowers to decorate and place near the pillows of everyone’s beds

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