A camp counselor’s guide to activities

Muir Woods National Park
Miguel Vieira/File

For all the college students out there who chose to spend their summer supervising underaged campers instead of sitting in a fluorescently lit office everyday, here’s a list of go-to camp activities:

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite: icebreakers (all of which have completely unoriginal names).
Anagram name game – Everyone thinks of an anagram for their name and shares it with the group. Then someone has to try naming everyone in the group. This works best in groups of eight to 10 because that’s about the number of names we’re able to remember when we try really hard.
Shoe game – Everyone stands in a circle and takes off their shoes so that all the shoes form a circle. One person begins in the middle of the circle so that their shoes aren’t a part of the shoes’ circle. The person in the middle then proceeds to state a fact about themselves and anyone who shares that trait has to find a new pair of shoes. One person will be without a pair of shoes to stand behind so they’ll become the person in the middle of the circle.
Rock, paper, scissors, cheer – The group splits up into pairs and plays rock, paper, scissors. The loser of each duel then cheers the name of the winner as they move on to their next battle. This continues with every game until there are two groups cheering for the two final victors, who play against each other.
Question game – Tell everyone to think of a question pertaining to a particular topic. For example, you could tell all the participants to think of a question about travel (or food, clothing or whatever else your heart desires). Then, they find a partner and ask that question. Discussions will usually ensue following the questions, but if not, participants can move on to a different partner to ask a question.

If you have extra time throughout the day, here are some great ideas for activities:
– Group nap
– Yoga
– Any sport (karate, capture the flag, soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.)
– Outdoor painting
– Life talks with one of the counselors
– Write letters home
– Spa day

Bonus: Spotlight
Volunteers can speak in front of the camp/house/group about their life and whatever they want to share. Usually this lasts about five to seven minutes, and then the group’s able to ask the speaker questions for a few minutes. Kids usually love this, and it really helps people get to know each other on a deeper level.

Additionally, if you have a daily meeting, put out a box the kids can fill with kudos (compliments for other people). This way, if someone does something nice they can get some appreciation. It also helps build the community!

Contact Hailey Johnson at [email protected].