Managing Camp Groups

Counselors managing their groups of campers successfully is the key to a well-organized operation. Here are some tips on how to manage a group of campers:

  1. Learn all of their names and engage with the kids often. You are an authority figure and a supervisor first, but make them feel like you are one of them.
  1. Incorporate ice breakers and team building to build group chemistry.
  1. Organize the kids in lines or with cones before and after activities.
  1. Constantly yelling is never a great idea. Use positive reinforcement when needed.
  1. Use tactics to get the groups attention such as a camp clap or chant. Sometimes the simple gesture of raising your hand in front of the kids and staying quiet is enough to get the groups attention.
  1. Use whistles effectively. Do not just randomly blow a whistle for the sake of doing so, it will become ineffective quickly. Have a system in place so kids know what type of whistles to listen for and only use it when those scenarios arise. An example would be one whistle is stop and listen, two whistles is clean up and find your group leader, etc.
  1. Explain things clearly and concise. Start the day and every activity with clear instructions.
  1. Set group expectations on behavior and how you want the group to function before, during, and after activities.
  1. Have a reward system in place for good behavior. If you do not have one camp wide find ways throughout the day where campers with good behavior get certain perks and privileges. Reward the entire group when possible. If there is a reward system all kids should get some type of reward at some point.
  1. Participate in activities when you can but always make sure you can maintain proper supervision when doing so.
  1. Keep a close eye on your group dynamics. If you see things like kids not participating, kids arguing, hear rumors, etc. it could be a sign of bullying and should be shut down immediately.
  1. Limit down time as much as possible and always have a Plan B for activities that may not work as planned.
  1. You will have your favorite campers but treat all kids equal or at the very least make sure each child has an equal opportunity to try something or earn an award/special privilege. Campers will pick up quickly if they feel treated unfairly or see other campers getting things that they have not had the opportunity to do.
  1. Put extra effort and attention into picking kids up when they are down or are having behavioral issues. As a group leader or camp director a big part of your job is to make sure everyone has a great camp experience.
  1. Have fun! Kids will feed off their camp leaders’ energy and attitude. If you have positive energy and are having fun, more than likely the kids will.

If you effectively manage your groups your camp will be organized, run smoother, and your campers will work well with you and other group members creating a fun positive atmosphere for all.


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