First, many thanks to Carol who has already given us some great feedback which I will incorporate in the “final” manual and future posts.
WHO TO INVITE – (expect changes to this section based on Carol’s excellent feedback, but here’s our first draft)
PLANNING TEAM: While you might prefer working solo, planning a camp is a perfect example of many hands making light the work. Build a team of few other parents to help with everything from handling the registrations to heading up the crafts.
While we all know too many cooks might spoil a soup, the story of Nehemiah (chapter 3) beautifully details the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem with each gate being handled by a different group of workers. Don’t take on so much alone that either you (or your family) regrets ever even thinking about hosting a camp!
CAMPERS – Knowing exactly who you want to invite to your event will impact everything else. Perhaps you want to do something just for your own group (which is great) or maybe you are considering reaching out to others in your region. While an event for under 20 adults/children might be able to be hosted in your own backyard, anything larger might need to move off-site so decide how many you can expect to come.
Spread the news through your group, social media and church bulletins. Get started on our paperwork for registration, including emergency forms, and all the details you need to keep track of. You can use on-line spreadsheets such as Excel to keep track of who will be attending, their fees and payment, what they are bringing, etc. This aspect of the planning is the perfect job for one of your partners.
PARENTS – Be sure to let each parent attending know that is a mother/daughter retreat. They are expected to stay with their child and be a real part of every activity from making the craft to helping clean up. Without wanting to be harsh, the camp is not a time when a few Moms to do all the work while other Moms relax on their phones or disappear. Emphasizing the mother/daughter aspect by including every parent on the camp teams will help.
Of course, you will have some families who send their daughter along with a friend due to work, a new baby or other situation. This is not a problem and can become a real chance to serve a Mom in distress; but be sure to encourage the Moms that this time spent with their child will be a blessing for both of them.
BEHOLD PUBLICATIONS – We are here for you! While we won’t be hosting the event or able to attend in person, we want to help. Check the website for info from previous camps that includes what to bring, ideas
Be sure to let us know the date/time/location (especially if you are opening it other groups) and we’ll be happy to make sure it is on our Facebook page and blog, as well as links from the Summer Camps page.
LOCATION – You will need a location that can give you space for every event you are planning from crafts to patron saint badge sessions along with food prep and serving.
For example, if you are expecting participants to form three teams, you will need three locations; two teams just two locations. It is easy to share a large space with a team at each end in a church gym or a short hike to the two pavilions offered at a campsite.
Consider first the homes of your own club members. A farm or home with more than an acre might be well-suited for your camp. Using a home allows for access to a kitchen, bathrooms and inside space due to inclement weather at a fairly reasonable cost (free?). A large enough piece of property could hold a few tents or campers, while the floor of a basement or barn with sleeping bags and air mattresses has its own charm.
Next, consider asking your parish if its location would allow you use for your camp. A parish with a meeting hall, an attached school or large acreage would suffice while also providing access to Jesus in the tabernacle and maybe even your priest for the sacraments or a visit. The cost of use for a parish would need to be considered when deciding on what to charge.
Outside of these locations you can inquire at retreat centers, local camping sites or even public parks that might also allow for camping. A full service retreat center will offer the most amenities but also cost the most as it might be outfitted more like a hotel.
Remember all of these will charge a fee and may require insurance which you need to consider as part of the cost.
OUTSIDE, INSIDE OR BOTH? – the location and length of time for your camp will not only inform the families if they need secure tents/campers or just sleeping bags/blankets, but help determine what activities you plan. A camp providing cabins and bunk beds has its own cost but offers protection from the weather while giving you places for eating, crafts and games.
Meanwhile, a church facility might have a ban against a fire precluding marshmallows and a sing-along around a campfire, but give you a great kitchen for meals.
Some public locations can offer affordable tent space or cabins along with a pavilion for meals, crafts and etc. but not offer a chapel for prayer time.
Consider the finances of your families before committing to any location requiring rental fees.
TOMORROW: How long should the camp be? And Boring Business Stuff.
Future Posts will cover Theme, Patron Saint Badges, Crafts & Songs. As well as Sample Schedules for a One Day Camp, An Overnight Camp and Three Day Extravaganza