Camping Party

Day Camp Party 9yr - Decorate Camp Hats




Andrea in Brighton, MA, USA


June 2009


Special Mention

We've seen lots of ideas for camping parties but what my daughter wanted was to have a private day camp experience. So we invited her whole class to get a jump on summer with Camp (our last name) Where every day is a party. 

 INVITATION: The invitation was modeled after a camp registration packet complete with an application, medical form, and instructions on drop off and pickup procedures. The fonts and layout were copied from real camp forms as was the style of language, for example, describing our home as: a safe, relaxing homey campus featuring indoor and outdoor facilities commensurate with our historic 1880s location. And Our program encourages positive group dynamics while building lifelong skills and competencies in a variety of arts and sports. Our completely uncompensated staff are experts in child development and run large group activities with practiced panache. The forms were a mix of real information and jokes. We asked if campers were allergic to cat (which we have) and vegetables, and for permission to administer insect repellent, sunscreen, and refined sugar. Health History with yes and no check boxes asked about selective hearing, frequent good moods, and knows a good thing when sees it.

The italics at the bottom informed people that our camp did discriminate, by providing services only to close friends and relatives. Parents were informed that for all Sunday sessions, they should come 15 minutes before pickup for a special performance (they were only offered one afternoon session, with an optional lunch). The forms were also used to arrange carpools. People had the option of replying online but most kids delighted in filling out their forms and mailing them in advance. They wrote amusing comments, my favorite being one who responded to any cool injuries you'd like to brag about by listing his brother's previous mishaps. The forms were apparently so convincing in style that one parent said a friend saw it hanging on the refrigerator and started copying down the contact information for her own children. One week before the party, we sent out email reminders that enrollment materials were due. We ended up with 100% response (yes and no).  

DECORATIONS:  The day of the party, we attached signs with the camp logo and arrows at the corner of our one-way street, and parking signs in front of the house. The registration office in our front hall. We had a table with the director's nameplate, in/out boxes, clipboard, and telephone. Gifts were collected in our red wagon. The dining room table was covered with a drop cloth and a mini red wagon with art supplies in the center labeled Craft Shack. Old projects from our own kids were scattered about. We put laminated pictures of butterflies and birds on doorways and newel posts, labeled our two bathrooms for boys and girls, and posted hand washing instructions over the sink. We labeled our bedroom Drama as it was later used for our drama activity, and stored props in there. There were also signs to a fictitious pool and ropes course. 

COSTUMES:  Family members wore T-shirts from other camps. I wore a nerdy floppy hat and strung sunglasses and a plastic whistle around my neck. Campers got name tags with their names and cabin assignments, and later decorated their own hats.  

ACTIVITIES:  As each family came, they had to stop at the registration office. After making sure all the paperwork was in order and emergency numbers filled out on a card for our file box, each camper was assigned a cabin and given a nametag. We also asked whether they ate meat or were vegetarians. We had offered the option of lunch ½ hour before the official start of the afternoon session, and most guests attended. We grilled and served hot dogs and tofu dogs, and had chips, cut vegetables, and bug juice. My daughter had asked everyone to bring a book for free time which happened during and after lunch and people got to sit anywhere we scattered blankets and beach chairs around the living room and they grouped as they liked. Free time was a huge hit. One kid read, several played Mad Libs, others tossed balls into a soft-sided catchall I set up inside for that purpose, and other went outside in the drizzly weather to ride scooters and run around.  When all the guests arrived, we formally started our afternoon session. The counselors, my husband and I, our oldest daughter, and one other teen, introduced ourselves and gave the camp rules and philosophy.  

We then went to the Craft Shack. We had two projects that day and the cabins switched off between them camp hats and kitchen critters. The hats were plain white cotton caps from AC Moore that the kids could decorate with fabric markers and stick-on jewels. The second project, Kitchen Critters, I invented myself. We bought 20 sheets of craft foam with sticky backing, 100 googly eyes also with sticker backs, and 100 chenille stems, all from Blicks, plus used round colored toothpicks we had in the house. The kids cut out various petal shapes from the foam, peeled off the backing, and stuck a toothpick through each petal, first one then its opposite, until the flower was complete. They then could stick other colors onto their petals in dots or stripes or other designs. They added a center shape to cover the point of the toothpick. Then the bottom four petals were curled up and stuck to each other so that the whole flower was cupped. Some added another shape such as a star to the bottom of the flower for added realism.

Each child then made a bug by cutting out a head, abdomen and thorax and sticking them to each other, adding wings, eyes, antennae and decorations as desired. They then cut three small pieces of chenille and poked the metal lightly through the abdomen to attach legs. The whole bug was stuck onto one side of the flower with the little legs bent over as if the bug was perched on the flower. Finally, the rest of the chenille was wound around the toothpick holding it tightly and leaving plenty dangling below. At home, the chenille could then be wound around the top of the freezer or refrigerator door handle so that the 3-D flower and bug is at face level every time you open the fridge. Each child made a unique, colorful, amusing, eye-popping creation, and parents liked how easy it was to display. This was a co-ed party, and boys and girls enjoyed both crafts. Many kids signed each other's hats at the end of the party just like on a last day of camp. 

We had planned on a neighborhood scavenger hunt but the rain got worse and the crafts were such a hit, we stayed at the Craft Shack until nearly the end of the party.    Eventually, we dragged them off to the next activity  Drama. Each cabin was given a brown paper bag and sent to a different part of the house. Inside each bag was a notepad, pencil and random costumes and props (pirate hat, long skirt, old fashioned desk telephone, giant stuffed snake.) enough for everyone to have something. Each group had 10 minutes to plan a short skit using everything in the bag and everyone in the group. After planning time, we gathered for a few quick camp songs while we waited for all the parents to show up.  

BIRTHDAY TREAT (not cake):  My daughter did not want a cake  she felt it wasn't campy. So, we sang Happy Birthday and passed out popcicles and watermelon slices to parents and campers to eat while watching the skits.  

PARTY SNACKS:  In addition to our hot dog lunch, we had chips, cut vegetables, and of course, bug juice" (red punch). 

FAVORS: Campers were sent home with their hats kitchen critters and bags of trail mix (nuts M&Ms and raisins) with a plastic spider hidden inside. 

THANK YOU NOTES: In addition to traditional thank you notes that my daughter sent for her presents the camp sent official email thanking parents for sending their wonderful children and as camps do promoting ourselves once more.  Many of these kids are now heading off to real summer camps. We keep getting calls about how wonderfully accurate our party was. Kids who had never been to camp before feel well-prepared and we are still making our guests laugh.  If we could change one thing other than the weather we could have used another hour of party time everyone was having so much fun. "

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