My oldest daughter hasn’t quite reached the age where she can get a “real” job (i.e. not babysitting for the neighbor’s kids and issued a W-2 by an actual business). Frankly, I’m OK with this as she doesn’t yet have her driver’s license and the task of getting her to a job would simply require more chauffeuring on my part (even though at this stage of my life the only professional qualification I’m putting to good use is my driver’s license, hauling my kids ALL OVER TOWN). You see, said daughter of mine enjoys participating on a club sports team and the cost isn’t exactly cheap. This year we explained to her that since she’s getting older, we expect her to help contribute to her sports fees. So what did she do? Used the entrepreneur genes she inherited (from yours truly), started thinking creatively and proposed hosting a Harry Potter spring break camp for kids (to be run by her and her professional assistant/little sister).
If you have teens in the house who are looking for a summer job, perhaps this non-traditional route will do the trick. Let them pick something they are passionate about and run with it! (It doesn’t have to be Harry Potter – It could be Star Wars, sewing, painting, music, etc.) You might be pleasantly surprised at the entrepreneurial spark glowing within them. After hosting one successful camp, with another scheduled on the calendar, here are seven steps your teen can use to make it all come together.
7 steps for hosting a kids’ camp:
1. Thought Shower
Before diving headfirst into hosting a camp for little kids, have your teen brainstorm with you, their friends, Pinterest, etc. Start writing down those ideas and grouping them into possible themes and activities.
Get the word out! Have your teen make a flyer they can distribute to neighbors, friends, church groups, etc. (We emailed our flyer to the local elementary school and a few of my daughter’s former teachers. A group text to the parents of her little brother’s basketball team also did the job.)
3. Craft the Game Plan
Plan out what activities will take place during the camp. Get specific and give each one an allocated allotment of time. We learned it’s important to have a few back-up ideas too, as some kids finished faster than others, or simply weren’t interested (Harry Potter Bingo seemed to work for us). We served a themed lunch at our camp, but tried not to pick menu items that would be messy (or full of sugar—nobody wants hyperactive 8-year-olds running around with paint in hand). Parents knowing they wouldn’t have to worry about packing a lunch was likely an added incentive.
4. Descend on the Five-and-Dime
Have your teen make a list of supplies they’ll need based on the activities they’ve got planned for the big day…crafts, groceries, props. It also helps to know how many campers you’ll have before heading off to the store. (This is a great time to have them look for coupons and sale items.) It’s crucial to make sure they pay for the supplies out of the camp fees they collect (even if you front them the money)…We’re teaching real life skills here, something they won’t learn if Mom or Dad pay for everything!
5. All Set
The day before camp, have your teen email/text/call the parents of the campers to confirm their attendance and remind them to bring the particulars listed on your flyer (like tennis shoes so they can play relay races outside). Things got a little crazy once all the kids arrived — two campers decided to cast a spell on my cat in hopes he would turn into Professor McGonagall — so we were grateful we’d done all the prep work beforehand. It’s also highly recommended to put family pets away (aforementioned cat example), as well as anything precious and/or breakable (like my great-grandmother’s Dresden china) that you wouldn’t want little hands handling.
6. It’s ON
On the big day, make your space/house feel special for the campers by hanging decorations, playing themed music, dressing in costume and greeting the campers as they arrive. Encouraging the kids to dress in costume is guaranteed to add another layer of anticipation and excitement! Have multiple projects that are tangible so the kids have souvenirs to take home. (We did Harry Potter wands, a slime-making potions class and canvas painting). Hand out awards at the end of the camp so everyone feels included and take lots of photos.
7. Circle Back
Once camp is over, be sure to encourage your teen to follow up with their campers and parents to say thank you for participating. One fun idea to supplement your thank you note/text/email is to include a few photos of each child from camp. Thoughtfulness on your teen’s part will likely ensure repeat customers because taking the time to say thank you will set them apart. (And that priceless photo of their little one knee deep in crafts they didn’t have to organize certainly illustrates the benefits of sending them to camp!)
With thoughtful planning and a bit of guidance from a responsible adult (I’m talking about you), your teen’s camp will likely be a big success. It doesn’t take too much effort on your part to help with a camp and your teen will develop a sense of ownership and newfound confidence! Practicing and improving ‘life skills’ (creative thinking, marketing, leadership, budgeting, patience and problem solving) are benefits of the process, as well as having a lot of fun. Plus, earning a fair amount of money to help cover the costs of teenage wants and needs will help the family budget for sure!