Managing Camp Free Time

If your camp has times for camper free time it is important that area is still managed and supervised properly or campers will start to get themselves in trouble. Free time can occur during drop off or pick up, in a game room type setting, or even during a designated activity station where students are given the opportunity to choose their activities. Here are some tips to manage your free time:

  1. Have clear free play rules for the campers prior to starting. For larger spaces make sure boundaries are identified and marked to keep kids within the play area.
  1. Make sure counselors are roaming the free play space and engaging with campers. Monitor area boundaries or entrances/exits to the area so no campers leave unattended. Sitting in one spot the entire time or using it as a social time is unacceptable.
  1. Put each counselor in charge of a certain area or activity within the free play space to ensure there is adequate supervision.
  1. Make sure the kids are in line while waiting to use a game during free time. Use cones at each activity for lines to form when needed.
  1. Make sure the games offered are simple and appropriate for this type of environment. Things like cards, board games, and legos are great as well as game room style games like pool or ping pong.
  1. Do not allow kids to run or throw balls during indoor free play time. Indoor free time games should be sitting or stationary as much as possible, especially with a large group in one area.
  1. Only use free time activities periodically during certain times of camp, it should not take up a large part of your day. Free time during drop off and pick up times work as campers and staff are arriving and departing camp. If you have a game room it could be used as a stop during station activities.
  1. Switch different games or activities in and out for free time to keep kids from getting bored from all the regular games you have available.
  1. Hold campers accountable who do not behave during free time and have them sit out if they cannot follow your rules. Sitting out free time could also be a penalty for campers who misbehave during other parts of the day as it is generally something they will look forward to.
  1. Reward campers for good behavior during free time or have an area in your free play space that only the most well-behaved campers can access as an additional award for good behavior throughout the day.

Managing your free play time properly will give the campers the structure and supervision they need to have a great time with their fellow campers, keep campers out of trouble, and always make your free play time a success!


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