If you have a DayCamp at your church for kids this summer, it may be the last thing on your list. It may be the least prioritized thing that you think you have to do. What you may not realize is that DayCamps can be integral to the future of the youth group where you work.
Here's some things I'm doing to prepare for our DayCamp next week, and I'll also explain the structure of how we do things here. Hopefully some of these tips can help you plan your own awesome DayCamp.
Take every opportunity you can to teach. DayCamp isn't just to give parents a break for a few hours - it's to teach Bible lessons as well. If your DayCamp doesn't have a Bible-themed message, or if you don't take time to talk to the kids at you DayCamp about Bible topics, then you're missing an opportunity to bring young minds and hearts closer to Christ. Some of the kids at your DayCamp may be exposed to the Bible for the first time while they are there. Take advantage of every opportunity!
Get help! Lots of teens love to help with smaller kids, believe it or not. I have more participation from teenagers at DayCamp than any other "service" event of the year. Also solicit help from adults to just be eyeballs on kids - you will be happy you did.
Make playtime structured. You hear it all the time: "Kids need structure." They really do. You'll have lots of playtime at a DayCamp, but most of that needs to structured playtime. Have a list of games and how to play them. Make sure your volunteers can run them as well, so that can free you up to do other things. Have a Water Day one day of the week, fully explaining the dress code and what is expected of each camper.
Have the kids bring their own lunches. Just like in school, have the parents pack the kids a lunch every day. This helps a lot with organization and food costs.
Don't have it all day. You will be exhausted if you do, and so will the kids. We have ours Monday thru Thursday, from 9AM to 2PM. This is a great block of time, and it's not so much that it absolutely exhausts you.
So if you're planning a DayCamp for your kids this July or you've already done yours, share your thoughts!