Summer camp can be… epic, unforgettable, the stuff childhood magical memories are made of. As an administrator, educator, or volunteer, your aim is to make that magic happen. As we approach summer camp 2022, most of us are in full-on planning mode. This ultimate guide to summer camp planning was whipped up by the team of fantastically big-thinkers (and deeply experienced summer camp teams) to give you a leg up.
Read on to hear from the team at Drone Legends all of the biggest plays, strategic decisions, operational procedures, and thematic elements that go into a summer camp kids are sure to remember.
The BEST Summer Camp Ever
Before you begin marketing your summer camp you have some big questions to answer. The most important question is…
How will my camp be better than everyone else’s summer camp?
“Kid loved, parents approved” has never been truer than it is for summer camp programs for kids. Which means, you have to pick an exciting theme, curriculum, or experience that will pique the imagination and interest of as many kinds of kids as possible.
Of course, we have an easy answer for that one:
Drone Summer Camps: STEMtastic Fun for Every Kid
Drones! Drones provide the latest and greatest tech applications today. They are equally loved by adults and kids, they are used in exciting STEM activities, and they lead directly to immediately accessible careers. Bring in a drone STEM program and build your community!
Stop the “Summer” Slide With a STEM Summer Camp
STEM is another way to up your camp value. Parents are worried about the learning gap created by the pandemic and “summer slide” and will pay extra for a camp that includes academically rich STEM activities. Kids love STEM because it’s all about using technology to design, build, test, break, and do it again. And you will love STEM because it can fill up several hours of a long camp day with fun playing and learning.
Drone Legends Summer Camp Planning 101
Here are a few other questions to consider if you’re thinking about running a Drone Legends summer camp.
What ages am I going to invite to enroll in my camp?
If you go with us, know that our STEAM drone program is designed for rising 4th through 8th graders. They can be split up into groups by age, or you can combine 4th and 5th graders in a group and 6th, 7th, and 8th graders into a group.
How many campers can I accommodate in a session and how many instructors will I need?
The answer to these questions depends on your space. Your campers can be divided into small groups of 12 students with two instructors. Each group will need their own room, or space, to fly in. If you have 3 rooms then you can have up to 36 campers (3 x 12) and will require six instructors (3 x 2).
How long is a summer camp session?
This depends on how many hours a day you want to spend using drones to do STEM activities. You can do drones for 2 hours a day, in which case our 10 mission STEM Fundamentals program will fill two weeks, five days per week. You will run one mission every day for 10 days.
If you want to spend 4-5 hours doing drone-based STEAM activities, you can complete the STEAM Fundamentals program in one five-day week and you will run two missions every day for 5 days.
Will I allow repeat campers?
Some parents want to enroll their child for more than one session. Decide in advance if you will allow this and if so, what you will do to keep them engaged. You can provide alternate learning activities for repeat students, or allow repeat students to be assistant instructors or class experts, or you can inform the parent that the activities will be the same as the previous session and ask for their cooperation.
Am I going to provide before and after care and lunch?
Many parents need flexible drop-off and pick-up times. You can group all of the students together during these times and have 2 staff run games or crafts or other activities. If you choose to provide this care you will most likely increase your enrollment numbers. Lunch is another question. If you have a kitchen or cafe on site, this could be a big draw for parents. But it can also be a big challenge to pull off given student allergies and food sensitivities, parent preferences, and picky eaters.
What can I charge for a summer camp session?
Do some market research and get a good price point. Check what other camps are charging and if they offer STEM learning activities, what instructor to student ratio they provide, and if they offer before and after care and lunch. A camp that offers both STEAM and technology can typically charge $50 – $100 more than a camp that doesn’t.
What system am I going to use for registration?
You can use an online system for parent registration but make sure there is an enrollment cap on each session and choose a date for registration to close. If parents enroll by calling in to an office, provide answers to common parent questions for the staff to reference.
Where will I market my summer camp?
If you are just starting out, look into community resources for parents including:
- The local newspaper
- Online sites that publish lists of summer camps
- Community magazines often publish a list of summer camps in the early spring
- Local libraries sometimes offer lists of camps
- Community parks, though they often offer their own camps and may not allow advertising by competitors.
- Local businesses may agree to sponsor a student
What methods of group management will I use?
We recommend using positive rewards for good behavior. Choose a list of actions that you will reward campers for and a list of rewards such as extra flight time, points toward a prize at the end, a chance to win small prizes each day, etc. As students see good behavior rewarded they will want to continue good behavior. If students do break the rules, decide in advance what the consequences will be. They can include being “grounded” from flying, or parents called.
Common Parent Questions About Summer Camp
As you put summer camp materials together, make sure you have some kind of “parent’s guide to summer camp” that answers frequently asked questions. In our experience, these are the most common:
- What happens if we have to cancel, is there a refund policy?
- What if my child gets sick or injured during camp?
- What other foods will my child be exposed to? Is there a peanut-free place they can eat?
- Is there a multiple child discount?
- What will happen if my child is bullied by another camper?
Create succinct, thoughtful answers to all of these questions, which should pretty much be answered with your summer camp operational plan anyway. 😉
Tips For Teachers Running a Drone Summer Camp
Summer camp teachers, whether they’re running a drone summer camp or any kind of summer camp, are usually a mix of educators, regular staff, and seasonal staff. This may mean that they need some extra guidance for basic things like classroom/behavior management, instruction, and scheduling.
By way of illustration, here are some of the basic training pieces we offer to leaders in our Drone Legends summer camp programs:
- If one student is misbehaving, stand near them but continue instructing the group.
- Explain and demonstrate what you want students to do before you hand out materials.
- Rotate between teams as they work.
- Encourage the students to work at their own pace and use the manuals to do so.
- Encourage creativity in students’ problem solving.
You’ll have some additional tips based on your own space and scheduling. The more clarity you can provide on the front end, the better equipped teachers will be to run a summer camp with success!
What Does a Drone Legends Summer Camp Look Like?
And now for the fun part: drone summer camps. Drones are an easy sell for a summer camp theme, and the Drone Legends curriculum is the best.
For some pics and illustrations of a drone summer camp program, you can check out this blog highlighting the Drone Legends summer camps that took place at Code Camp in Australia!
Here’s a cheat sheet of how you would schedule a drone summer camp day:
- Parents sign their students in.
- Early arrivers gather in a common area and play a game or watch a show on drones
- Students are separated into groups.
- Groups move to their designated space and go to the “academy”
- Instructors teach the scenario, the mission goal, any new flight and coding skills, and explain and then demonstrate how to build their obstacle course for the mission.
- Students build, fly, and then code their flight path.
- Students return to the “academy” for wrap up.
- If time permits, students can compete against each other in the flight mission.
- If time permits, students can do the extension engineering activities.
- Students have lunch and free time
- Students play a group game (optional)
- Students engage in the next type of activity or the next mission.
- Parents sign students out as they come to pick them up.
- Late lingerers gather in a common area and play a game or watch a show on drones.
The Best Summer Camp Ever
Whether you are reading this as a program administrator, teacher, volunteer, or parent, here’s what we all know: summer is an opportune time to support year-round learning for kids. The key is to make it fun and engaging as well. Summer is a time for exploration, discovery, and letting kids take the lead on ideas they’re interested in. Drones fit that bill beautifully, and if you are still looking for a summer camp curriculum, we’ve got you covered.
Our STEM summer camp curriculum (technically it can be used any time of year) has all you need for a turnkey experience. This means it’s virtually effortless for the teacher of the day or week to hop in and take the reins, facilitating a fun-filled, learning-rich experience for kids of all ages.
If you’re ready to have a convo about getting a Drone Legends camp near you, reach out today!