First off the KEY, is to have an amazing Camp Director called! We have had an amazing camp director the past couple years I have been in and it really helps to have someone great in charge of the planning.
Second...."YCL's!!!" or whatever your ward calls them are crucial. They are usually the Laurels. It is Young Women or Girl's Camp after all, not leader camp ;) It is so important to have the girls help in planning camp. Their ideas need to be listened to and they need to have assignments in planning and carrying out camp. I can tell you that during camp is where I have seen the girls just SHINE!
Third... Make sure everyone is on the SAME page. Start by having a camp theme and have a few meetings, delegate responsibilities and start early, don't leave things until the last minute. Every single leader called has amazing talents and abilities. Use those abilities to help carry out camp. That is what helps make our activities successful, everyone contributes!
Here is a sample of what we did at this years girls camp....
Our amazing camp director and YCLs came up with the theme for camp and began planning. They had an overnighter retreat to plan everything out. Our theme for camp was, 'There's No Place Like Camp", centered around the Wizard of Oz.
Our YCLs designed our sweatshirts, bags and our camp flag. They also made signs for each of the tents. The leaders also had a couple camp planning meetings so everyone knew their responsibilities.
Some of the things to think about when planning are....
This is definitely something the girls should be included on. We decided to attend Camp Hunt at Bear lake. Which meant we needed firm commitments from the leaders and girls. It is a couple hours away and didn't want people coming back and forth. With choosing a Boy Scout camp came the opportunity to take advantage of some of their activities and resources. Last year, we went to our Stake camp and had a great time too. Here is a list of camps.
We did not have enough in our budget to cover camp, so our bishopric allowed for the Young Women and the Young Men to hold a fundraiser together. Check with your bishopric for their policy/guidelines. You can also refer to Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 10.8.9. For the fundraiser we did a ward party. At the party was a spaghetti dinner which was free to ward members. The money was raised by both an auction, silent auction and flag sign ups. Each young women was asked to participate by providing a desert to be auctioned off at the silent auction and either a basket or service. Some of those services were babysitting, pet sitting, and mowing lawns. We had tons of amazing deserts and some pretty great goods and baskets. We had many ward members donate items to be auctioned too. One of the top items was a football helmet signed by a bunch of BYU football players. The young men were over the flag sign ups (people had the opportunity to sign up for flags to be placed in their yards on all of the major holidays). The fundraiser was a successful evening where, the ward was able to enjoy one another's company and the youth were able to raise some money for their camps.
Our activity following the fundraiser we made thank you cards and treats for those ward members who donate goods and services. The below tags were stapled to Swiss Rolls. They could also be attached to tootsie rolls, nut rolls or fruit roll-ups.
It's so important to designate a person who is in charge of handing out and gathering all of the required forms. With attending a Boy Scout Camp we had a few more forms we had to fill out then usual. Check with whatever camp you are attending to make sure you have all of the required forms. We held a meeting with all the girls and their parents to give them their forms and discuss camp. They were also given a packing list, a spotlight form, and a secret sister form.
How are you going to get all the girls to where they need to go??? Last year when we attended trek it was a fair distance away that we rented a bus and bus driver to transport all the leaders and youth. For girls camp we just made sure we had enough cars to transport the leaders and the girls. Parking was limited so we made sure we took the cars that could take the most people. We also took a large enclosed trailer that held all of our gear.
The camp we were attending, required us to sleep in tents. So, we had one of our leaders be responsible for gather the tents we needed. We have a very large group of girls, each group required two 10 man tents, except for our YCL's that only need one smaller tent. Plus we needed tents for leaders and for the men who had to be there. We gathered tents from ward members. We also were able to purchase three tents from our budget, that will be specifically YW tents and will be able to be used in subsequent years. Our girls are amazing and with the help of leaders and the men set up all of the tents. When considering sleeping arrangements, be careful to consider that each girl has a friend in their tent and no one gets left out.
For our camp we were required to have two priesthood holders up there at all times. Check with your bishopric and camp to see what the guidelines are.
Get someone or a few people who love to cook :) Our camp leader and our YW secretary are amazing!! Let's just say that for camping, we ate wonderfully, we even had deserts each night!!!
Some of our meals included:
Sack lunch from home
Pulled Pork Sandwiches, fruit, coleslaw
Scones with Honey Butter
Dutch Oven French toast breakfast casserole, hash browns, sausage
Taco Salad, Chips, Fruit
Hawaiian Haystacks, Fruit
Breakfast Burritos (tortillas, hashbrowns, bacon, eggs, cheese), Fruit
Chicken salad sandwich or ham sandwich and veggie trays
Dutch Oven Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream
Muffins, Bagels, Fruit
Sandwiches for the ride home, chips and a Capri sun
Shakes on the way home
A lot of our food was prepped before coming to camp, such as the meat for the pulled pork, Hawaiian haystacks and taco salad. With the food you have to think about how you are going to keep it all cold (we had several large coolers), How you are going to cook it (we had a couple camp chefs and four dutch ovens (bring enough coals). And how you are going to wash the dishes. We had a dish washing station, which included a tub full of hot water and soap for washing, a tub full of hot water for rinsing and a drying station. All of our girls were assigned times to help with food prep and clean up. It worked great and helps them pass off certification. Be careful to be aware of any food allergies or sensitivities.
We planned lots of fun activities for the girls. Before hand we had the girls pass off on their swimming so they could enjoy the water activities that were offered at the camp. The key is to have a lot of activities to keep the girls busy learning and having fun building relationships with each other.
Here are some of the things we did:
Each morning, had an early morning activity offered by the camp. We did the Sunrise Canoe ride where we woke up at 5:00 to go out on big warrior canoes out into Bear Lake to watch the sunrise. We also participated in the Polar Bear Plunge, waking up at 6:00 to walk into a cold creek that feeds into Bear Lake. You have to walk in to you shoulders repeat the Young women's Theme and then dunk your head all of the way under the water.
Each morning we also had a flag ceremony with all of the other groups attending the camp. There usually some announcements from the camp and some songs sung. Our girls were able to do the flag ceremony one of the days, so they could pass it off in certification.
We had access to the water each day. One of the days we took the girls tubing, which they ALL loved! The other days, they swam, canoed and kayaked.
CRAFTS!!! It wouldn't be girls camp without a few crafts right?!? The first day we were each given our white canvas shoes and some sharpie markers to decorate our shoes however we desired! We have some creative, talent girls!! This was such a great idea, I wore my shoes pretty much the whole time, which saved my other shoes from getting dirty :)
I love crafting with the girls, because their personalities just shine through there work!! We also made these adorable arrows. Our Secretary, Amy from Her Tool Belt & Amy's Projects is an amazingly talented lady which we are so lucky to have!! She cut out all of the wood for the arrows. The girls were given instructions and then were left to their creativity. We used different stains for the shaft part of the arrow. Then for the head and feather part of the arrows most of us used scrap paper and mod podged it on. I wish I would have taken picture of all of the girls beautiful creations. For the plans for these arrows here is the link.
Retiring of a Flag:
One of the neat events we were able to attend was a retiring of a couple U.S. flags. It was a neat thing for our girls to be able to witness. What made it more special were there was a veteran there who helped in retiring the flag. It makes you remember all of the sacrifices men an women have made and continue to make for freedom.
Before camp we asked the girls, leaders and ward members to donate items to go into our Chemo Care baskets. While at camp, the girls were paired up and given a basket to put together to go to the Chemo Care unit at Primary Children's Hospital. The baskets were beautiful and will hopefully bring some smiles on some beautiful little kiddos faces during such difficult times. It is always good to include a service project, it brings a special spirit into camp and helps the girls feel the joy that comes with service.
Skits are a tradition and a highlight of our girl's camp! This year the YCLs put together some bins full of props. The girls were divided into groups and then given a bin. From the bin they needed to come up with a skit. Even the leaders get in on the action!! Last year we had an awesome exercise skit with Richard Simmons. This year it was an America's Got Talent type skit. I love watching these skits the girls are so creative and you really get to see their personalities come out! Everyone has a good laugh by the end of the night too!!
Probably my favorite thing of camp is testimony meeting! There is nothing like sitting in a huge circle around a fire and sharing what you believe with people you have just spent the week with! Our youth have such amazing testimonies, I seriously love each one of those girls!!
The first day was the theme of Knowledge and the scripture was D&C 93:36. The devotional focused on the the scarecrow and his desire for a brain and the importance of gaining an education. But not only an education, but also to continually be learning. Learning skills, talents, hobbies, and gaining more knowledge about the gospel of Christ. The girls were give a cute pin to pin onto their bags.
The third day, was the theme of Courage and the scripture was Mark 5:36. The focus was on the Lion and helping her find her courage. The YCL shared an experience of when she was able to show courage. The message was of not being afraid, to have courage.
The fourth and last day, was focused on "there's no place like home", our destination of the temple and ultimately eternal life. The scripture was our year's theme scripture 2 Nephi 31:20. We live in a world that is full of confusion, but our path is marked for us. The path that leads to the temple. We just need to Press Forward. The girls were each given the temple pin to put on their bags.
Here is how to make the temple pin:
The temple charms were ordered from Doodlebead on etsy
Cut red sparkly ribbon to 2 inches
Cut blue gingham ribbon to 1 1/2 inches
Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
This year we were really lucky and was able to spend part of one day doing the certifications that the camp offered. Last year, we tried to make certifications fun! We met before hand last year for an activity and did some certifications then did a little bit more up at camp including a relay. In the relay, we had teams, on each team was a couple first years, a couple second years, a couple third years, and a couple fourth years. Each had a task they had to accomplish before the next person in there group could move on. After each task they were given a puzzle piece. First group to accomplish all of their tasks and put their puzzle together won. Some of the tasks were, building a fire, doing CPR on a dummy, and doing a Buddy Carry. Sorry, I can't remember what else was included or what the finished puzzle said. Below is a download of the printables I used to teach the 3rd and 4th years First Aid last year. I had each of the 4 on a page items rolled up and placed in blown up balloons. The girls had to pop them, then we discussed that topic. Click below for the Free download.
Also in the download are the papers to make some personal first aid kits.
To do so cut a paper towel tub. Fold in the ends. Wrap the first aid paper around the outside and secure with glue or tape. Inside place things like bandaids, antibiotic ointment, alcohol swab, etc.
If you've stuck to the end!! Wow, it was a lot right?!? Camp is a lot of work, but every ounce is worth it! Testimonies are strengthened, friendships are made and each girl comes away with a memory from camp. Share any questions you have below in the comments, also feel free to share any ideas and suggestions you have in regards to planning Young Women Camp.