Forming healthy relationships is essential for the development of kids and teens. That’s why making life-long relationship building part of your camp’s goals is so important.
Bonding is also important for adults, so make sure to include camp staff in your goals! Here are five ideas to start building those connections.
1. Pre-camp staff training
Before your camp officially starts, plan a day or two just for staff to get to know one another and train. Make it like a mini-camp just for the adults who run the show.
This will not only help your camp run smoothly by training the staff well, but it will also build relationships. This can lead to friendships while creating a high-functioning team that will run your camp efficiently.
2. Small groups
Breaking campers into smaller groups led by a staff member gives kids a more intimate environment to share experiences. Big group activities are fun, but it can be hard to connect when there are so many people involved.
You can separate groups by age, interest, or do it randomly. To make it extra fun, you can even break campers into “houses” with different mascots, like in Harry Potter!
3. Innovative icebreakers
Starting with “tell us about yourself” isn’t very memorable and can really put people on the spot. Instead, try some unique prompts that can bring campers and staff out of their shells.
Here are some ideas:
- What would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse?
- If you were a mythological creature, what would you be and why?
- What are your hidden talents?
- What is the best book you’ve ever read? Why was it the best?
- Describe yourself using three emojis.
- If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- What would you title your autobiography?
- What is your best dance move? Can you show us?
- Would you rather be the smartest person in the room, or the funniest? Why?
- What are you most excited for at camp?
- What do you look for in a friend?
- What is your favorite part of being with your family? How do you feel about being away from them now?
- What is something you want help with during your time at camp?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to make up your own icebreakers or even let your campers come up with some.
4. Shared mealtimes
Camp staff and campers don’t need to eat separately. Spread out your staff among the campers during snack time and mealtimes. If you have the facilities for it, you could also have staff and campers cook together before they eat.
Connecting over a food can be more organic and meaningful than other activities or icebreakers. During a meal, people often share deeper stories than they usually would. This can help campers form bonds for a lifetime.
5. Team challenges
There’s nothing like a good competition to bring teams together. Make time for trust-building team challenges that your camp’s small groups can compete with.
One example is the human knot game, which only takes 15-20 minutes. Teams form a “knot” by joining hands across the circle, and they have to work together to untangle themselves.
This is as much a puzzle as it is an exercise in working together. Campers will learn how to communicate with one another and gain a deeper understanding of the people in their group. To make it a competition, award a prize to the group that detangles the fastest!