Building community is one of the best parts of camp! The first thing that most campers (and staff!) do when they arrive is an orientation for everyone to get to know each other. This initial opportunity for bonding is great, but as the summer goes on, it can be easy for both campers and staff to stick with people they already know, possibly alienating potential friends.
Regular structured bonding activities are an important part of fostering an inclusive and fun camp experience for everyone, especially staff! And with sleep-away camp staff not able to leave camp as often as previous summers, it’s important to build in social bonding opportunities. Whether you’re in charge of organizing official camp activities or just want to gather informally to get to know everyone a bit better, these 7 camp staff bonding activity ideas are for you!
1. Human Board Game Night
You’ve heard of board game night, but have you heard of HUMAN board game night? Instead of the traditional board game night, spice it up by making life-size versions of your favorite games with camp staff as the moving pieces. Games that work well in this format include: tic tac toe, chess, checkers, or even scrabble with printed letters!
2. Lip-Sync/Air Guitar Contest
A classic, the lip-sync/air guitar contest gets people thinking creatively and putting themselves out there. You can have people sign up as a solo act, or put people into teams (maybe with someone they haven’t met or spent much time with?) for more collaboration. Get everyone into the spirit by giving enough notice so that people can practice during their downtime. For a fun twist, encourage participants to wear costumes and channel their inner diva!
3. The Masked Counselor
Bring the popular TV show to your camp this summer. Do this as part of a staff-only bonding experience, or for the whole camp to double as evening entertainment. The basic premise is that someone (or a group of people) wears some sort of mask or costume that disguises who they are. In the absence of those, you can also use a wall or a sheet to hide the counselor behind! Then they sing a song or otherwise perform and the audience tries to guess who they are. There’s a fun competitive element here that you can use or lose depending on your preference.
4. Camp’s Got Talent!
The talent show is a staple of summer camp. Switch it up by encouraging only weird talents, or only original content. We provide all of our camp staff with talent show sign-up lists to put up prior to the event. These can be for staff by staff, for the whole camp with only staff performing, or an all-inclusive staff and camper event! Up the ante by offering a prize for the winner(s)!
5. Game Show and/or Dance Party
These are perfect options for our Masters of Fun (camp staff in charge of camp-wide entertainment), but they are also great for anyone who has the technology or wants to get creative. The mainstages Game Show is a blend of trivia questions and physical challenges that gets everyone participating. Usually, we use buzzers and other props, but you don’t really need anything fancy. You can use good old-fashioned hand-raising or even colorful spoons. As for the Dance Party, those of you with mainstages A/V equipment are already set, but anyone with access to speakers and a headphone jack can find a way to make it work! Dance parties can be a bit less interactive than Game Shows, so get more people involved with group dances that everyone knows or Action Zone games with the dancing.
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6. Movie Night
A lower-key option for rainy nights or busy times (like the lead-up to Color War), this option is pretty self-explanatory: just hook up your movie-watching equipment of choice and press play! Try amping it up by asking people to dress in movie-related costumes or hosting an “intermission” show featuring movie-related trivia. You could even host an ongoing series of movie nights throughout the summer, with different movies in a series or with a specific theme.
7. All-Summer-Long Challenges and Games
Why keep the fun limited to evenings when the campers have gone to their bunks? There are a whole host of games that can be played during the day, and no one would ever know it was going on! You've probably heard of a game that goes by many different names (Werewolf, Mafia, Bang Bang You’re Dead, etc.) where someone secretly has to tag someone else without anyone else seeing. Your camp’s version can involve code words, a secret movement, or really anything your imagination can dream up. It’s a great way to get everyone talking and interacting with people beyond their typical group. And it keeps everyone on their toes throughout the summer!
Need more ideas? Other options include:
- Campfire Sing-a-long & Stories
- “Whose Line is it Anyways”-style comedy show
- “SNL”-style sketch show
- Ice Cream Social
- Fashion Show
If you find something during the course of your summer that we haven’t mentioned here, please feel free to let us know! We’re always looking for more and better ways to encourage camp-community bonding! We hope that this list of 7 camp staff bonding activity ideas will be helpful to you this summer, and beyond!