Get Into the Spirit of the Olympics at Summer Camp
July 17, 2012
As children across the U.S. prepare to venture off to summer camp, the best athletes in the world are making their own preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. This highly anticipated sporting event can provide imaginative summer camp staff with a world of ideas for themed activities all summer long.
One of the advantages of planning Olympic-themed games is the sheer variety of sports included in the event. From swimming and diving to track and field, Olympic-themed activities can appeal to a wide range of interests.
Before coming up with activity plans, it may be worthwhile for summer camp staff to get an idea of the activities that will be most popular. A show of hands, simple ballot or just asking kids what sports they would like to try can all be easy and effective ways to gauge which sports are worth incorporating in more depth.
Once they have figured out the sports that everyone wants to try, camp leaders can begin working on creating a list of events.
Come One, Come All
It is important to bear in mind that children attending camp will have different experiences and abilities with competitive sports. Some kids may be familiar with friendly rivalry, whereas others may not have much experience in competing against their peers. For this reason, it is important for summer camp staff to plan events with an emphasis on inclusion and not on winning. Ensuring that no children feel left out will help create a positive experience for everyone.
In addition to creating an atmosphere of participation, safety should be camp leaders' primary concern.
"Every sport carries a risk of injury," says Catherine Holecko, a contributor to About.com's Family Fitness section. "But good coaches and program administrators know that this risk can be minimized through proper coaching techniques and use of safety equipment."
Another thing for summer camp staff to bear in mind is the age of the children under their supervision. Not every child will be able to run or swim for the same amount of time, so camp leaders will want to make it clear that the point of the game is to have fun and enjoy the sports, not to win.
While some children may have a natural talent for certain sports, and such talent can be supported, it's also important to identify and encourage other qualities such as sportsmanship and teamwork. Similarly, it may be worthwhile for camp staff to create participation medals for kids, as opposed to representations of the gold, silver and bronze ones awarded to Olympic athletes. This further reinforces the notion that camp sports are about participating, not just demonstrating superior skills.