Winter break is here: and as parents send their children to winter camps, a team of educators and volunteers is standing by to give them an epic good time. This can be a hard time of year, though. We’re all tired. We’ve all hustled all year, either as teachers or program leaders or afterschool/enrichment educators. It’s important to gain an energy boost, since winter camp sets the tone for how schoolers will engage with upcoming spring break and then summer camps. Maximizing buy-in is key to securing enrollments for those programs, so here are some tips to gain momentum through this winter break!
Bonus: this is geared toward what we at Drone Legends call our “Ambitious Educators” or “Creative Program Leaders,” but definitely gives ideas for what we call “Future-Minded Adults,” i.e. the parents who make it all possible. Whatever category you fit into, read on for some ideas to make every winter break program experience a success!
Pick the Right Program (Winter Break Drone Camp? Yes, Please)
Attracting school-age kids to winter camp is all about the BIG (COOL) IDEA. While you could go the coding or robotics route, that excludes kids who aren’t technologically-inclined. Of course, we are totally biased, but winter drone camp has proven time and again to be a tech-friendly but majorly inclusive option. A few key reasons why:
- Winter camp has to be fun for EVERYone — Drones can be operated by anyone: kids don’t need to be tech geniuses to play with drones. They are exciting, eye-catching and tons of fun.
- Winter camp has to be “doable” by ANYone — With the right program, like the Drone Legends STEM Fundamentals Curriculum, any teacher or volunteer can pick it up at any time and run the day: you don’t need a ton of training or onboarding to figure it out.
- Winter camp programs have to be collaborative — Set in the context of drone missions, drones can be an awesome chance for kids to work together, problem-solve, but also imagine. This is key to adding the all-important “A” to STEM = STEAM. Creative kids aren’t left out of tech experiences, but invited in to dream together and share wins.
- Winter camp has to be easy — Turnkey is the last key, and this is why so many program administrators vote for Drone Legends as a go-to winter break drone camp: you don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute to assemble huge lists of extra materials and resources, especially when you’ve just finished end of term admin tasks or closed down a classroom. You need complete packages that you can pop open and enjoy right away.
Planning Winter Break
It’s crunch time, and let’s face it, very few of us spend weeks and weeks drafting lesson plans for winter break. For the most part, it sneaks up on us and we wing it. But admins know that the purchasing has to happen in advance, as does the marketing to attract as many kids as possible.
You’ll secure more enrollments and have a well-run program if you tick a few boxes in advance:
- Set your timeline and dates
- Advertise to parents well in advance, both with print and digital materials
- You may want to also deploy a “bring a friend” motivator
- Secure early enrollments, perhaps incentivized by a discount
- Use materials from the winter break curriculum or winter break program you choose to build some hype
- Plan staffing — schedule and train
- Get resources purchased and organized
- Plan space allocation
- Get all of your paperwork and forms squared away
As a teacher or program leader, it’s easy to focus on classroom activities toward the end of the year, but winter break is a big deal. Your students get a break, and so do you. Departing from academically-intensive routines can free students up to be more creative, and give everyone a much needed break. Well, it’s in the name. So as you prepare for winter break, here are some tips:
- Plan a mix of educational and fun activities
- Rethink how you use your space, so it feels fresh or different
- Familiarize yourself with the winter break materials, using ideas from whatever program you’re using to add fresh props, materials, decorations or scheduling plans to the week
- Talk to your students about what to expect, and build some enthusiasm around the break
- Think of in-class activities but also resources students can use to extend learning, then make a list and send out to parents
Parents run the gamut of “I had winter break planned in June” to “the kids don’t have school next week?” Wherever you fall in that range, there are some things you can do to ease the transition from school to break and back again. Here are some ideas:
- Enroll your kids in winter break programs early (the good ones fill up)
- Find out what the winter break curriculum is, or what themes the kids will learn about, then coordinate some at-home efforts to match
- Take advantage of the fact that educators or program leaders are doing the heavy lifting, and be sure your kids have intellectual down time at home to explore interests, create something new and connect with family
- Don’t put too much pressure on winter break programs to produce academically rigorous results: the goal is for your kids to investigate and experience something new, which is an important departure from end of year curriculum and testing
Running Winter Break
Winter break can sometimes be a free for all, occupying different areas of the school or getting shuffled around in an unconventional schedule. Not to mention the interruption of day trips or field trips during the week. It’s important that admins and teachers are on the same page about what to expect. Running a winter break can go like clockwork, as long as the logistics are taken care of:
- Set a goal and expectations in advance
- Remember to refresh bus schedules or seating arrangements, as is legally required by your state, district or organization
- Coordinate among every admin and teacher to ensure confirmation of scheduling, especially as people take time off during winter break
- Create visual schedules and calendars that go home to the kids, and others with more detail that are posted in the break room and distributed to teachers
- Be sure to establish clear lines of communication for when things change (they will) and have plan B or plan C in place to ensure continuity
Most importantly: HAVE FUN. Winter break has to be a blast. Everyone needs this down time. Picking the right program is so important, but so is giving teachers or employees the freedom to enjoy the time with students. Add music and lights and decorations and a little leeway for free play. Sometimes, those experiences are just as important as the educational or curriculum components.
Winter Break Follow Up
Once winter break is over, a new year typically starts, which can distract substantially from all-important follow up. We urge you not to let that happen: how you follow up with every student in your winter break program can make or break spring break, which makes or breaks summer camp. This cascading effect is real, and problems can be avoided if you plan in advance how you will call, mail, text or email parents the following messages:
- Thanks — Make a meaningful, personal connection by just offering a “thanks for choosing us,” “we’re so glad we had your kid this week” message.
- Feedback requests — Don’t let parents leave the program without providing essential feedback on how you did, and what you can do differently/better next time.
- Spring Break info — Right away, send info on what you plan to do for Spring Break. The group that came to your winter break are your most likely enrollments for that program, so follow up with them right away, even if it’s just to convey info.
Drone Legends: Winter Camp With Drones
Ever-popular, drone camps for kids are always a winning choice. However, without a plan, drones can be confusing or costly or only work with a couple of kids. The magic of drones is unlocked when you introduce them with the right program, and of course, we have that. To explore how drone camps can come to your location or school, contact us today.