Monday, June 10, 2013

How to run a summer camp - part 1

With only three weeks left of school, I am getting super nervous and excited about my upcoming summer camp! It has been a huge learning curve setting up the details of my camp, so I'll share a bit about the process, in case anyone else decides to try running their own art summer camp from their house!

Before I begin, I should note that I worked in a daycare for years before I became a teacher, and until last year, I continued to work summers at the daycare. I definitely learned a lot about how to organize a day of activities/snacks/etc. for a group of school aged kids, and it gave me a lot of confidence about my ability to manage a group of kids over the course of a day.

Getting insurance

Before I began any of the process of planning a summer camp, I priced out how much insurance would be for the camp. I initially called the company where we buy our home insurance to ask about quotes, and was told that they don’t provide this kind of coverage. They referred me to another company, who told me that they wouldn't provide this insurance either.

I was really confused - how is it possible that they won't insure childcare in a home? I spoke with a friend, who told me that their house was insured for their daycare (by the same provider I use for my home insurance.) He said that it was a rider statement on their home insurance that provided them the childcare insurance. With this information, I called my insurance provider back and was told that they could easily ensure me, but it would only be for up to 6 kids at a time. This was workable – it was better than nothing, but I did want to have around ten kids a week. The person I spoke with gave me a number for a company that does camp insurance explicitly, and all of a sudden I was on my way to a more liberal insurance policy.

My insurance policy covers art camp activities, including park play (but wouldn't include things like swimming), covers my 4 weeks of camp only (it's not a year long policy, it's just specific to the time of the camp) and I can change the number of kids I'm covered for (which is great, because my registration varied from what I expected it would be!) So with insurance out of the way, the next step was…

 Deciding the details of my camp

I had to figure out what the details of my camp would be. Among the millions of questions I had, I was wondering when I would run my camp? What would the times of day be? Would I provide food? What else would we do, aside from art? In which part of the house would we operate from? Would I provide before and after school care? How much would I charge?

Future camp site!
I had many logistical questions I had to answer. To begin, I did some research on other camps in my area, seeing when they began and ended during the day. I spoke with a daycare provider I am friends with, and settled on running the camp for the 4 weeks of July, from 9am – 4pm. I also decided to offer before and after care for an additional price, from 8am to 5pm.

I opted out of providing a full lunch, instead deciding to have kids bring their lunch, and to provide an afternoon snack. At the daycare I worked at, we had a great, healthy snack menu, so I have some ideas of what I can give the kids to eat.

The location of my house made for a perfect camp spot, because my back yard backs onto a giant park with a play structure.
The little hole in the hedge is actually a gate to a park!
I figure that on nice days, we could take a long break at lunch and go play at the park, so kids could run off some steam. I decided that I would run the camp from my backyard and basement, closing off the rest of the house to the children (you can enter my basement through my backyard, and there’s a bathroom down there, so there shouldn’t be a reason for anyone to need the other part of the house!) If we have a bad weather day, I have board games and books that the kids can use when they need a break from art.

As for what I charged, I decided on my numbers after researching other camps in the area. I went a bit lower than the typical charge, because it was my first time running a camp, and I wanted to be sure that people signed up. I made sure to charge enough that I would make a nice profit, but not so much that it would detract people from signing up.

That’s all I can cover for now! In my next post, among other things, I will cover:

  • Advertising my camp
  • Purchasing supplies
  •  Preparing my house for camp
  • Deciding on a snack menu
  • Running the camp!


  1. What a great series this will be. I can't tell you how many emails I get from people wanting to know how to do this exact thing. I will refer them to this series from now on. Good luck and have a great summer of art!
    Patty from DSS

  2. Thank you for posting this! I await the next installments.

  3. From a last decade I was searching such type of website On Childcare Blacktown. Thanks for giving me a space in your blog. I refer this to my close friends who are already seeking for the same .Thanks again guys…

  4. Love this piece! Looking forward to the next!

  5. Wonderful post and a fantastic venue!

  6. Great! I am taking the plunge again for a week this summer with a Paris-themed art and cooking camp. I got an umbrella policy but passed on the camp insurance. Good luck!

  7. I've always loved summer camps when I was young because I got to go to places where I can play and frolic under the sun. I admire your preparation and getting insurance for your place for the summer camp. Being insured in case of mishaps or accidents will help you a lot when it comes to repairs. Thanks for sharing! Have a great summer camp! :)

    Cayla Dupont @ Harlan Insurance

  8. If you are buying a new house always consider home insurance. It doesn't matter what the agent said to you, remember that he is there to sell. I had the most pleasant experience with home insurance in Berkley MA so you can start from there.


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