We just completed the fourth annual Camp Yale, our neighborhood summer camp. Every year it’s gotten better, and this year, it was downright euphoric.
First and foremost, the kids had a wonderful time. Most of them said that to me directly and repeatedly. At least two parents told me this was their favorite camp ever. Beyond words, their actions spoke volumes. They yelled and screamed and ran every day. They stayed past the end of camp each day, and often their parents or babysitters had to drag them away.
Tonight, when I put Marco to bed, he told me how he his friends were bumming out that we aren’t going to have Camp Yale the rest of the summer.
Kids got along remarkably well, and they forged many new friendships. We had no major conflicts. Members of the teams I put together bonded well.
Furthermore, word of mouth about our camp spread. A couple of days ago I was walking on a street a couple of blocks from my house and a woman I didn’t recognize across the street yelled at me, “Hey, can my son join your camp?” I was startled. How did she know about our camp, and how did she know that I’m the guy who runs it?
Besides that woman’s son, who did not join us because his mom ultimately decided to keep him in the camp he was enrolled in, five other new kids joined us during the week.
In addition, our Camp Yale kid ambassadors made an impact on many adults in our neighborhood. You see, three times this past week, they played a game I created called “Huntopoly.” On each of these days, five groups of three or four kids fanned out into our neighborhood on a scavenger hunt, knocking on doors and asking neighbors for photos and various small items.
What’s the secret of our success? It’s a combination of these lessons from previous years, some wonderful play facilities in our yard, and some important tweaks to our Huntopoly game this year.
OK, wanna know more? Let me know. Boyyy, I’m tired now. Running a neighborhood summer camp’s really hard work…