In 2011, I was a 19-year-old counselor, and our camp had just gotten a new director. He had worked at other camps and brought with him new games and ideas. In that time, some have stuck and some have faded away, but one has changed the way we run camp. He brought us the concept of theme weeks.
During his time at camp, he came up with some great themes: Color Wars, Pirate Week, Western Week, America Week, and more. Unfortunately, we as a camp were never able to capitalize on the themes. We’d have a small, unplanned skit each day, and our big “Mission Impossible” would stick to the theme, but other than that, it’d just be a regular week of camp. It was a great start for us, but when I took over as director in 2014, I knew we were missing something.In 2014, I purchased more costumes. Surely, that would help give us a strong theme, right? Not so much. We were still missing how to balance our Warner-Tully classics with a theme week. So after arriving back in the office after summer 2014, I began researching how other camps handle themes, and I found something I thought would work for us: theme days.
Instead of trying to change every one of our classic camp games to fit in with the theme, we reserve most of our theme stuff for Thursday. We have a small, planned skit each day that helps keep the theme in mind, but when kids wake up Thursday, the theme has totally taken over. The counselors are in character, and we decorate the dining hall. Instead of going to archery, riflery, canoeing, etc., they go to activities associated with theme. After lunch, we move on to big camp games related to the theme. The excitement of our theme games always culminates in “Mission Impossible,” our all-camp station game I’ll explain in later posts.
If you’re having trouble incorporating themes into your camps (especially if you run week sessions), I suggest you try a theme day! Over the next week I’ll be adding information about our 2016 theme weeks (Hunger Games, Boys v. Girls, Nickelodeon, Party in the USA, Harry Potter, and Best of the Best) and resources to show you how to pull them off. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to help.
Get ready to make themes magical!