Now is the time to start planning your summertime strategy. The following ideas are based on fourteen years of summer planning, consistent full enrollment and a staff that keeps coming back! The first premise is that summer should be fun for the kids AND the staff. Break the summer into weekly segments and plan a theme for each week.
The following are some ideas of wacky weeks that fly well with all.
Coming up with the weekly plans can be fun. It's also half the battle. Put this information in an attractive brochure and you're ready to market it. An early start allows everyone to share in the planning. The brochures will get the staff, parents and kids psyched for summer.
One thing that can really make a summer is a weekly field trip. The most important key to success is a staff trained for off site supervision. Everyone needs to be operating on the same premise when you are off site. Groups that run rampant belong to poorly trained staff! Key issues to address are counting heads, discipline, first-aid emergencies, and rendezvous points and times. Should you be fortunate enough to be able to venture out to local swimming holes, be sure there are trained life guards at each site.
There are so many great places to go in your state. The Department of Economic Development/Tourism Division will be happy to send you, free of charge guide books, maps and a calendar of on going events. It takes a couple of weeks to process requests so plan ahead.
Most places will be free. However, others will charge admission fees and/or have extra costs for transportation. We have found that parents will usually support field trips and will often pay the additional fees. Parents can be forewarned of this possibility in the summer brochure. Once notified, parents can then choose whether to sign up for that day. Also, you must decide whether to provide on-site-care for children who are not going on the trip. If not, parents should be notified of this so they can make other arrangements. Finally, Remember to call WELL in advance to book trips and don't forget to confirm the week of the trip. Note that some state parks and beaches also require bus permits. These take time to process, so contact them early.
The last touch is the distribution of the summer calendars. These go out the week before the month starts. There are two calendars per month. The first outlines the weekly theme and specialized days. The second calendar is for whatever individual groups will be doing during the week and includes what to bring from home. For example, the calendar for the older boy's group might include the following:
Calendars ensure that teachers as well as kids are prepared.
The most important thing with a summer program is that everyone has fun. This might entail changing plans-dropping things that the kids aren't interest in and expanding others. One thing everyone loves is spontaneity...treat the kids to ice cream on a field trip. On Fridays have a door prize for the first parent to pick up his child(a cold soda or a certificate made by the kids). Schedule some things that are really awesome and the kids don't expect(a guest speaker with a van full of animals, a luau in the middle of the week, an extra portion at snack time).
It's also very important that the staff has fun too! If they enjoy working, they will be more enthusiastic as well as more productive. Every now and then buy a pizza for the staff. Let each staff member have a turn at leaving a half hour early AND GETTING PAID FOR IT!-A real morale booster!
Start now-plan ahead to free yourself up to enjoy the summer with the kids!! Happy happenings!