Epic Entertainment Ideas for Anyone Who Works with Kids

Kids activity directors are experts at keeping youngsters active, and we’re in awe of your passion, stamina, and creativity. But even you may sometimes run out of fresh ideas, so we pulled together a cache of suggested fun that can fill your programs or kickstart your idea-generator!

Solve an ultimate mystery

Surprise and suspense are key elements of successful entertainment. That automatically puts mystery games at the top of the list. The exercise of brain power makes them popular with not only kids but also parents and educators.

  • Escape Rooms have exploded in recent years1 as a theatrical, interactive game for groups. You pay for the opportunity to be locked into rooms riddled with clues for escape. When you work together to solve the mystery and unlock the room, you win! Summer Camp Pro helps you get campers in on the fun.

Speaking of jumbo-style games …

Favorite games get more interesting when they’re played outdoors on a bigger scale:

  • Ground-marking spray makes Twister an outdoor yard feature that grows out in a few weeks.
  • Travel-sized, actual-sized, or jumbo-sized Connect 4 is always a hit. You can purchase a large-scale version, or DIY.

Enliven your evening with glow-in-the-dark fun

Fun after dark can be taken to new levels with the help of glow sticks. Check out these favorite games played in illuminating style:

  • Thread glow sticks through wiffle balls to start an after-hours game of baseball.
  • Provide colors for each team and a glowing objective for Capture the Flag … er, Glow Stick.

Games for Getting Wet

In the words of Ronnie McDowell, you “got a million of ’em,” we know. And truthfully, everyone’s a winner with water, even without a strategy. But we couldn’t resist these summer games for cooling off.

  • For the game Air Raid, there are “runners” and “bombers.” Runners try to get to the finish line without being hit by bombers who try to pelt them with big, soft sponges soaked in water pails. Who can resist?
  • What could be more fun than a homemade dunking booth? This DIY version is actually a dunk “bucket” that douses the person sitting underneath it as soon as the “thrower” hits the target.

One disclaimer about these ideas: We haven’t actually tried them – that’s your job!  So follow any aforementioned instructions with caution, care and ingenuity.


1Market Watch: The Weird New World of Escape Room Businesses


Start Your Year with These 6 Camp Tips From the Pros

Welcome to 2017!

For most of us, a new year involves a look back at the wins, losses and learnings of the previous year. So, we thought we’d look back at yesteryear, cull through some of your peers’ best advice and present you with the top picks. These resources cover staff development, leadership, marketing, and all things camp:

Why Your Staff Doesn’t Bring Things to You, and One Thing that Might Help Them Do So

Author: James Davis, Go Camp Pro

While camp staffers are in the trenches every day with campers, counselors, and activities, you need to know what’s working and not working. This blogpost helps keep those communication lines open with a cool staff training activity+debrief from Go Camp Pro.

Are YOU approachable to your staff?

Author: Murray Irwin, American Camps Association

There are lots of ways to motivate kids to behave appropriately, and the options can be complex. Camping Magazine unpacks 10 different responses to negative behavior, from reinforcing and reprimanding (positive) to rescuing and bribing (negative).

What are YOUR best responses to inappropriate behavior at camp?


Training Staff in What Really Matters

Author: James Davis – Executive Director of the Vanderkamp Center, and the founder of Summer Camp Revolution; Camphacker

It’s the best and the worst of camp – constant togetherness. This CampHacker blogpost gives training ideas and activities to help staffers buy in 1) to the camp mission (It’s not ‘kids’ who are at stake. It’s Camille. And Nick. And Sean. Real human beings …”) and 2) to each other (“Removing the barriers for new staff and veteran staff to interact is key.”)

How do YOU stave off “staff drama”?


7 Reasons Why Your Middle-Schooler Needs Camp

Author: Anne Archer Yetsko, American Camps Association

You know better than anyone why camp matters. You’ve made camp your life, after all. But the American Camp Association put together a great list of succinct reminders about the benefits of camp – particularly useful if you’re marketing to middle schoolers and their parents.

Why do YOU think middle-schoolers need camp?


100 Content Ideas For Your Summer Camp’s Social Media

Author: Doug Ridley, Campfire Marketing

When you’re marketing with social media, a content calendar can help ease that constant feeling that you need to be posting something new. As you look toward the new year, consider mapping out your posts. Here are a few content ideas.

What’s next for YOUR social media calendar?


7 Absolutes of Camp Counseling

Author unknown

The title of this poster says it all. This list puts legs on the most important values of working with campers (or, anyone, for that matter) – like respecting others, being kind, keeping promises, showing you care, using good judgment, and being mindful. We recommend it for pinning, posting, sharing, or laminating. (You’ll need a Pinterest account to copy it.)

What do YOU want staffers to remember most?

May 2017 be your best year of camp yet!

Our Holiday Wish for You

happy-holidays-blog-imageAt the holiday season, our thoughts turn gratefully to our circles of relationships – to our families and friends, of course, but also to our employees and you, our clients, to whom we extend our sincerest thanks.sheryl-bitmap

As we close the door on 2016 and anticipate all that 2017 will bring, we want to thank you for all you do to change the world.

We deeply value our partnership with you and the opportunity to serve you—and by extension—your community and customers.

All of us at ACTIVE wish you not only the safest and happiest of holidays, but also the realization of all your goals, both personal and professional, in the coming year.

Sheryl Hoskins
General Manager, Communities
ACTIVE Network


How Do You Inspire the Reluctant Kid?

Now matter who you are as a coach, educator or director, you’ve encountered the ho-hum learner. When the group circles up, he’s on the fringe. The word “hustle?” Not in her vocabulary. This kid is not necessarily antagonistic, but simply unmotivated.

Educator Ben Koch says meaningful learning is driven by passion. After 11 years in the classroom, Koch earned a Master’s degree in gifted education and founded NuMinds Enrichment, along with his co-founder Justin Vawter. NuMinds offers class and camp experiences that help kids discover exciting, real-world solutions with an interdisciplinary approach to academics.

Video: Hear Ben’s story of how NuMinds found more time for focusing on program development by reducing administration by 20 hours per week.

4 Ways to Spark Passion for Learning

Koch believes when students pursue their passion until it becomes their talent, they’ll find their sweet spot for a satisfying life.1 “Curiosity fuels passion,” he says. So the coach or educator is always working to cultivate curiosity in kids. It’s creative work, and no easy task! So Koch offers these suggestions:

Give kids a choice.

How do you build choices into your camps and classes? For NuMinds summer program, kids and parents choose from a list of courses offered during each week of camp, so the child is invested from the start. But in a popular one-day event where kids create arcade games out of cardboard, NuMinds gives kids lots of options, even on site. Kids can work alone or in groups. They can start with math or design. They can even pull away to do an unrelated solo activity.

“One of the best ways to reach a student is to offer some element of choice,” Koch says.

Find creative ways to listen.

What makes your students tick? Koch recommends a simple online test called True Colors.2 Kids can take the test to give you insight into their personalities and motivations. Also helpful are breakout groups, especially when you have other adults on your team. Perhaps kids (and parents) can fill out a brief questionnaire before your first meeting. Sometimes, it may just mean pressing pause on your agenda to listen to the child in front of you.

Encourage “free play.”

How do you incorporate creative play into your class or camp routine? As parents and educators, it’s easy to bemoan the “good, old days” when kids could play unsupervised for hours in the neighborhood or on the ball field. But camp and class directors can champion a more organized approach to free play, Koch says. “Creative play is a spectrum. When we replace the word ‘play’ with ‘space,’ free play becomes any activity that isn’t prescribed, preset, or predetermined.”

Keeping the main thing the main thing

Some “ho-hum kids” are late bloomers. In a year or two, they may blast off in your area of expertise. Others will never find passion (or talent) in your discipline, but their time with you may give them a deeper appreciation of it. Or perhaps they’ll just appreciate YOU because you showed them you care.

“As stressed out as I can get as a director, at the end of the day, it’s not life or death – it’s camp,” Koch says. “The most important thing is how kids feel when they get into the car to go home.”



1 Koch recommends books by author Ken Robinson that explore this idea – The Element and Finding Your Element.

2 True Colors Test 

10 Reasons Why People Send You Money…


(and other insights to boost year-end fundraising)

It’s that time of year again. And I don’t mean snowflakes and jingle bells—it’s time to make donor appeals for year-end giving. Even if your organization isn’t a nonprofit, you can be a part of the extraordinary generosity that continues to rise for heartfelt causes, as evidenced by last week’s Giving Tuesday, which raised $168 million through 1.56 million online gifts. Continue reading

Last Minute Revenue Idea: After School Holiday Gift Workshop


In case you haven’t noticed, we love sharing ideas for off-season camps & classes. So we can’t resist suggesting one more as the holidays shift into gear: An after-school gift workshop. (read: a crash course for kids in homemade gifts)

You can increase your off-season revenue, and win points with parents during the busiest time of year or adapt these ideas for your after school program. If you can create useful or consumable gifts with minimal clutter, you’ll score even higher with today’s parents. Continue reading