Behind the Scenes: What It Takes to Pull off an Epic Camp Event

When we’re planning for a summer at Greystone, one of our favorite things to do is plan some really fun BIG events and programs that are new for that year. While many camps repeat the same events year after year (and we love a good tradition at Greystone!), we also want each summer to be new and unique with the Evening Programs we feature each summer.

So how do we pull off our big camp events? Today we’re giving you a behind the scenes look at how we create some of the camp magic!

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Just like with any good event, we start with brainstorming. And, we start early…right now, actually. In January, before the upcoming summer, we take a good look at our Evening Program calendars. We take off any events we won’t repeat and then see how many open nights we have to work with. The more, the merrier in our opinion! Once we know what we’re working with, we start brainstorming.

So how does the brainstorming work? It’s a little all over the place. We always try to balance out the calendar so that we’re getting the right feel at the right time. For example, we know our campers are more enthused about a high energy event earlier in the session (like our multi-team competition events). We also know that we’ll need time to pull off some of our bigger events as they will serve as a culmination of many weeks of build-up (like our Pickleball tournaments). To balance the flow, we brainstorm each open date based on the feel we are hoping to pull off and the energy required.

Get a little wild:

After we brainstorm the basic options, we actually get pretty wild with some of the ideas we throw out. This is when things get crazy, in a really fun way! We may have an idea or concept we are interested in, and to see if we can pull it off, we dig deep into ideas that would then fall under that theme. We look for games, decorations, character inspiration, costumes, and more to see what is possible. We then take all these crazy ideas and chat about what will be the most fun (but also what’s actually realistic).

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Dig into the details:

Before the summer begins, we take our narrowed down ideas and start digging into the details. If we’re going to do a big event with a competition element to kick off the night, where will we have this starting event? Will we need sound? How will we organize everyone when they arrive? We have to think about all of these details before the event begins so the evening goes off without a hitch!

Make a supply list:

This is a big one, as we often need to find, collect, and order many supplies before our big events. For example, for our Emerald City event, we needed to order group costumes for our Head Staff, find face glitter for the campers, design a t-shirt, and decide what supplies were needed for each game around camp. For example, at one station, we were doing a baby food tasting competition, and to pull that off, we needed to make sure we had baby food, spoons, trash bags, blindfolds, paper towels, sharpies, pens, and a table. This was just for one location! For every event, we need to think about the supplies for each location around camp to make sure the games go off without any issues.

Create event sheets:

Our Program Staff are a mighty army that help pull off many of our events around camp. They spread out to the different stations, taking over the organization and fun once the event begins. To make sure they know what to do, we create Event Sheets to hand out for each station. These usually include directions on the event, a supply list and supply pick-up location, other staff they will be working with, clean-up instructions, and scoring details. Each station needs one of these packets, so it’s a lot of pre-planning and organization to have everything correct.

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Write the announcements:

In the same vein, we work hard to make sure our announcements are both easy to understand and exciting! To get such a large community doing exactly what we want them to do, we have to explain all the details clearly but without droning on for too long. For example, campers need do know answers to questions like: What shoes should I wear? Where do I go when the bugle blows? How long will I have to complete the event? How does the event end? Is there a prize for the winner? We think through how to share all the details before the event.

Set-up the supplies:

This is where the rubber meets the road as we organize everything for the actual event. Usually about 3 days before a big event, we will start collecting supplies and printing everything we need to have ready. As the day creeps closer, we’ll continue pulling everything we need so that on the day of the event, we just have the physical logistics of setting up the event. We typically have a few people join our “sweat shop” (as we jokingly call it) to get everything ready.

Have fun!

By the time the event rolls around, we want to enjoy the event too! We will always have little, last minute things to check-on, but typically our Head Staff teams likes to walk around and enjoy the magic. It’s what makes all of the set-up and planning worthwhile!

Since it’s January, we are in our brainstorming phase as we’re thinking through our options for this summer. Anything specific you want to see this year? Now is the time to let us know!

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