Summer Camp Planning For Beginners

September 15, 2023

Planning a whole summer camp can feel like a daunting task. With thousands of camps around the world for campers to choose from, how can you plan your camp accordingly and stand out amongst the crowd? 

We know camp planning is overwhelming, especially for beginners. This is where we’re here to help! We have created this guide to help you plan the best summer camp. Perfect for beginners just starting out, or the veteran camp planners who may need a refresh. Make your upcoming camp season the best yet by following these simple guidelines.

Camp Type

If you’re just looking to improve an existing camp, then you’ve chosen your type long ago, however, if you’re starting a new camp, one of the first steps of camp planning is determining the type of camp you will be hosting. Is your camp educational? For sports? Simply fun and entertainment? Once you have clearly established the type of camp you will be operating, the camp planning process starts rolling. 

PRO TIP: Always be sure to research! Learn about the camps already established in your area, what type of camps there is a need for, and what is popular. Upfront research and meeting unmet needs in your area will improve your chances for having a successful camp.


Set the tone for your camp by establishing the camp’s values. Know what values are important to your camp and write a mission statement. It’s a good rule of thumb to display your camp’s values and mission statement clearly on the camp website for people to easily see.


Identify the ways you want to communicate with campers and camper families before camp, during, and afterwards.

  • Before Camp 

How will you communicate with campers and their families before the start of camp? You could send letters by mail, send mass text messages and emails, or simply update your website. Emails are arguably the easiest and most popular form of communication. However, everyone’s inbox is increasingly consumed with spam and your email may be overlooked. Sending a brief text along with the email, alerting them to important information having been emailed can be an effective way to increase engagement with your email.

  • During Camp 

You will want to determine how you will communicate with camper parents back at home throughout their camper’s session. Camper parents are likely hesitant or have concerns about sending their children away to a new place for camp. You could send emails, a weekly newsletter, or keep your website updated. These methods of communication are great, but how can camper parents really know their campers are having a good time? WaldoCamps by Waldo Photos is the simplest way to share camp photos with families at home. With its AI technology and automated mobile photo delivery, families can easily see photos of their campers and will feel at ease seeing they’re having a great time. The beauty of automated photo delivery platforms like Waldo is they take the manicness out of a parent’s search through hundreds of photos. This process is typically filled with anxiety and frustration. If your parents become trained to await alerts their camper has been found, they will relax and enjoy their new-found freedom and time with their spouse.

  • After Camp 

You may be surprised you need to keep up communication after camp ends, but post-camp communication is critical to having a camp that thrives. In order to retain campers from year to year, you’ll want to maintain communication with your campers and their families. You could send newsletters, emails, small gifts in the mail, or text messages. Another great, and newer form of communication, is also offered by Waldo Photos. Waldo offers a postcard product called a Waldogram. This postcard is unique as it relies on Waldo’s facial recognition technology to select the best photo of each camper to be placed on the front of the postcard. This is a great way to easily send personalized communication and reconnect campers and their families with their treasured memories from camp. Whether you send birthday Waldograms or a holiday Waldogram, it will keep your camp community more connected during the offseason. Waldograms feature designs for every holiday throughout the year.

Post-camp communication is also a great way to get feedback and learn areas where your camp excelled, as well as ways you can make improvements for the next season. Sending a survey by email is a simple way to receive feedback.

Online Presence

Having an online presence is crucial as our digital world continues to progress. A mobile-responsive website that is optimized for search engines and a presence on at least one social media platform is important for growth. Individuals from around the world can find your camp through the power of the internet. How cool to have the ability to expand your reach further than your local community? 

Once you have established an online presence, creating a way to register for camp through your website is a must. It’s fast, easy, and simple. Don’t miss out on critical opportunities for growth and success by not having an online presence.


Implementing strong marketing strategies is so important for camps to be successful, especially those in the beginning stages. If you’re a smaller camp just starting out, chances are you haven’t hired someone who specializes in marketing. The key to successful camp marketing is understanding the unique selling points of your camp and reaching potential campers and their parents where they spend their time.

Recruiting Camp Counselors

You can’t have a successful camp season without great camp counselors. They’re the backbone of an amazing camp experience and play a vital role during camp. When it comes to recruiting camp counselors, you will need to know what you’re looking for. Are you looking for counselors who have prior experience? What is the minimum age requirement? Do they need to have specific qualifications? Narrowing down and really determining the type of people you’re looking for can help you begin the recruitment process.


Fun activities are the heart of a good summer camp and require planning. The type of activities you’ll plan for your camp will likely depend on the type of camp you’re hosting. If you’re hosting a sports camp, various sports such as basketball, football, and soccer will likely be popular activity choices. If you’re hosting an art camp, activities such as painting and pottery may be popular activities. 

The type of activities you have will depend on your camp type. However, there are common fun activities seen across the board, regardless of the type of camp you’re hosting. Icebreakers are great activities for new campers just getting to know each other. If you’re interested in learning more about fun icebreaker games for your campers, check out our blog Fun Icebreakers to Welcome Campers. You will learn many unique icebreaker activities that your campers will love. 

We would hate for the rain to halt your outdoor camp activities! While some activities can continue in the rain, sometimes outdoor rain activities just aren’t feasible. Maybe it’s too cold outside or the winds are extreme for it to be safe. Regardless of the reason, sometimes camp activities need to be moved indoors to avoid the rain. Nobody wants to think their camp’s original plans will be ruined by the weather, but sometimes things change and you have to plan ahead.

Theme Days

Theme days are a fun addition to any camp, but they do require planning. If you want to have theme days, you’ll have to plan them in advance to get the appropriate supplies and inform your campers ahead of time. Theme days wouldn’t be as successful if campers weren’t able to gather the right attire for each theme day.

Share Memories

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to make a plan for sharing memories from camp. Camp is likely one of the first times that campers will be away from home and their families. Campers and parents alike may feel a little nervous about these changes. As a camp director, you have the power to hopefully ease their stress. WaldoCamps by Waldo Photos uses AI technology and automated photo delivery to easily share camp photos directly to the parents phone. Camper parents can feel relief to see photos of their campers and know they’re having a good time.