Special Events

Wild West Auction

Here’s an event you can add to your Wild West theme.

Start by having your campers gather gold. They can dig for it at a creek, find nuggets lying around camp, or search for hidden nuggets in particular areas. You could even have them earn gold during the week. 

Once everyone has had an opportunity to find or earn gold, have them turn it all in for money at the “money changer booth.”

Once the campers have their money have “old-time 49ers” (a.k.a. counselors and CITs) warn the campers to save their money and not waste it away in “Boom Town” because greater riches might await them later in the day.

Next, lead the campers to “Boom Town”. This can be anywhere on camp where there is a lot of space. There you’ll have stations with hawkers everywhere trying to get the campers to spend their money on things like rootbeer floats, cheap little prizes, a chance to shoot an arrow at a bullseye, face-painting, enter into a raffle for a big prize, buy some little candies at the “candy store”, a bag of popcorn…basically, any way to try to entice them to spend their money (just like the ones who struck it rich in the old west).

Most of the campers will spend it all and have a great time in “Boom Town.” Others will save their money for the hint of greater riches later in the day. Either way, “Boom Town” will be a wild, fun time for everyone.

After Boom Town, the campers are led to your dining hall or amphitheater, preferably a place that has a stage, chairs, and microphone all set up like an auction house. Decorations can be sparse. Just hang up one big red sign with “Auction House” on it.

Get some great prizes to auction off. They don’t have to be that expensive, but they should be better than the Oriental Trading items campers are used to. Some examples:

  • Pool Toys – alligator inflatable, orca whale inflatable (These are cheap, but they take up a lot of space on stage and look very impressive to campers.)
  • T-shirt Tie-Dye Kits
  • Nerf Guns
  • Camp T-Shirts (maybe an exclusive one)
  • Other Camp Swag
  • Themed Deck of Cards
  • Rubik’s Cube
  • Deck of Trading Cards (sports, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, etc.)
  • Magic Tricks
  • Journal and Pen
  • Harmonica
  • Joke Book
  • Yo-Yo
  • Koosh Ball
  • Mad Libs
  • Cool Socks
  • Flying Disc
  • Friendship Bracelet Supplies
  • Nail Polish
  • Bug Catching Kit
  • Coins from around the world (great if you have international staff that can pitch in)

You can also offer some “experience prizes”. For example:

  • Popsicle Party with a counselor of your choice
  • Camp Director for the day
  • Kitchen Raid for the whole cabin
  • Backlot Tour
  • Ice Cream Trip into town for 2
  • Golf Cart Ride around camp

For the auction, get a charismatic staff person to be the auctioneer. Give each camper, who still has money to spend, a paddle for bidding.

The kids will have a blast, guaranteed. The ones who spend their money in Boom Town will have had their choice of things to spend their money on, and the ones who wait for the auction will have fun going into bidding wars.

I would suggest that you have more prizes than you need for the auction so that everyone gets a chance to spend their money. Even having cheap little Dollar Store items for the end of the auction will work.

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