The Summer Camp Apocalypse is coming.
They lurk around every corner, follow your every move, fill the air with piercing moans of “WHO AM I RIDING?” They are the zombie children of summer camp and when they aren’t digging trenches in arena dirt or trying to befriend the most feral horse on the property, they are putting all their energy into draining your life force.
So when the Summer Camp Apocalypse hits your barn, make sure you’re prepared.
1. Choose The Right Fuel
Your first mistake in a Summer Camp Apocalypse is not fueling your body. You have to operate at 100% and that begins with drinking water and eating right. Read the ONTF Equestrian Blog post Up Your Horse Show Diet Game for more tips to selecting the right types of fuel.
2. Secure Your Stronghold
This survival tip has two parts:
- Make the barn a safe place for your horses and your little zombies. Before the apocalypse begins clear your barn of any unnecessary or dangerous items (i.e. extension cords, hay hooks, spare blankets). Secure necessary, but potentially dangerous, items out of reach of tiny zombie hands (i.e. scissors, clippers, metal rakes). Check that your first aid kit is up to date and all your tack and equipment are in good working order.
Make note for you and your staff of any structural hazards such as dips in the concrete, lockable doors (no really, pay attention to these), or high manure ramps.
In the case of a summer camp apocalypse, prevention is far better than treatment!
- Create a “NO ZOMBIE” safe zone. One of the quickest way to wear down your staff is to keep them working the whole day. Budget in rotational breaks and lunches away from the children for each of your staff members.
3. Know Your Enemy
This tip may sounds silly but really, learn everything you can about children! Read books, attend seminars, watch videos and push yourself to be a better teacher/coach/counselor/assistant/whatever! A better understanding of how to work with children and how they learn will take your summer camp to the next level and pretty much guarantee an awesome week for all.
4. Practice First Aid
Increase your camp’s credibility and camper safety by getting your staff Red Cross certified. It cheap, can be done online or in person, and is just the right thing if you’re inviting little zombies to your property.
5. Division of Work
Don’t cheap out on your staff. Make sure you have enough, they are trained and the workload is evenly divided and allows for breaks. The quickest way to derail a summer camp is to have a staff that is tired and overworked.
6. Celebrate the Little Things
Let’s get real summer camp apocalypses are usually in the hottest, nastiest weather conditions and involve lots and lots of physical labor. Zombies get tired, staff gets tired and we all get cranky! So break it up. Is it a horse’s birthday? Is it a counselor’s birthday? Did the little zombies listen the first time or maybe pick an entire paddock of rocks? Well then throw a mini party for it! Bring out ice pops, a sprinkler, or lawn toys to play with for a short mini party during the day. Don’t tell the little zombies about it to make the surprise even better.
Summer camps are a necessary part of any equestrian’s life experience. We can all remember a time when we would wake up at 5am so excited to go to horse camp. So if you’re running a summer camp then be prepared. Make sure to give these kids a safe and fun week they will never forget! But before you go Leo and I do have one question. What makes running summer camps worth it for you?
Share your answers below or on the ONTF Facebook page. And as always share any post you like on Facebook, Pinterest, or with family and friends.