It’s that time of year again, when snow is forecast, the rain never seems to stop and the carpet becomes caked in dirt from the kids shoes when they’ve been out playing. Yes, you guessed it, time to start planning/organising summer camp. I have organised 5 summer camps and 100+ weekend camps, I always make my summer camps a week long and it’s always the highlight of the year for the cubs. I usually get about 80% of the Cubs wanting to go, I have found they all seem to have a great time, so they all want to come the following year too.
By now I have an idea of where we are going already as each year on summer camp, I chat with the other leaders where they fancy going the following year. This can vary from going somewhere totally new, to re-visiting somewhere that we have previously enjoyed. Or maybe we’ll go somewhere that is very good at a particular activity or past time.
So now I’ve checked out the site we are going to, I’ve listed all the activities we want to do throughout the week on site and off site. I then spend a couple of hours trying to think of any possible costs, you can get a good idea from previous camp accounts. But there are always new ideas, different activities or maybe different items of kit you need to take. Finally you come up with a figure and you’ve divided up all the costs. Last summer camp the fee for each Cub was £140, this figure varies from where you go to what activities you’ll be doing. But my summer camps are usually around the £150 mark. The group I was with was situated in a small town where the incomes are great, so I think this is a fair charge for the week.
Next thing is to book up a few things, I like to get the site and minibus booked and confirmed by January. Plus the earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the week and activities you want. This also applies to the minibus bookings, the earlier you book the cheaper the price often. I am a stickler for this, I very rarely pay what the price says. Whether it’s the minibus, food, activities etc, if you contact the manager and explain who you are and ask nicely, nine times out of ten they’ll happily give you a discount.
Now when January begins I am able to hand out permission to camp forms to all the Cubs. What they will always get is the camp information form, costs, menu and camp programme. I have found some kids worry about summer camp, obviously for some it’s the first time they are away from parents for a while. If you let them know up front what activities and outings there will be, you’ll get so many more positives rather than maybe’s. With all kids they like to know what food there will be, so it helps to keep little Johnny in the know and the worried mum who will be without her precious child for a week.
It’s also the ideal time to make sure all Night’s Away training and permits are fully up to date and complete. Not everyone’s district are quick at updating info or handing out permits, so make sure you sort it out early enough to avoid any disappointments. There is also a very good new nights away resource from Scout shops recently launched.
This is only how I make first preparations for summer camp, I’m sure others will organise things earlier or later. It’s all about what works best for you, to be honest a summer camp isn’t as daunting as you might think if you’re a new leader. Experience helps, so chew the ear of fellow experienced leaders, there is a lot of helpful advice and tips around. Even better if you are a new leader is go on camps run by a few experienced leaders, because after a while and experienced leader can have it down to a ‘T’. What ever camping you do next year, have a safe, happy and fun one.