Ok, so a while ago I mentioned having theme meetings at camp in this post and another camp pro Dan Laubach pointed out to me that I’m a big weiner who never followed up with the list of themes I promised (ahem, ok maybe I’m paraphrasing *a little*, Dan was actually much more polite and kind in his request for a list of themes.)
Thanks Dan, for putting this back on my radar, it’s something I wanted to share.
Most of these are pretty ridiculous and came about out of weird things my staff were doing that summer or just sort of happened organically.
Before we get into the list, here are some tips.
1. If you’re going to do a silly or stupid theme meeting, make sure you don’t have to discuss anything too serious.
2. Be aware that if you do a theme, it might take a little longer to get through the meeting, because people are likely to burst into giggles every so often.
3. Most of my meetings used to be in the evening, so a lot of these themes make a lot more sense to do at night.
This one came about because a staff member really wanted to see someone wearing a funny mask, so we demanded that everyone put on a mask as they came in for meeting. No one asked any questions, they just went with it, it was silly and hilarious.
Things TKD would like
Sometimes we like to make it all about us… (TKD is the nickname for the assistant camp director and I) We left it open-ended, staff showed up dressed in a lot of plaid, toques, tie dye, and drinking coffee. All of these things were accurate.
Let’s be honest, there’s nothing funnier than impersonating your boss so the staff got a kick out of it. (Ok, if I’m being reaaaally honest, we were hoping they’d bring us food we liked… maybe next time we need to be more specific hahaha)
Do you have an infamous person at your camp? Maybe a volunteer or alumni? We have an amazing volunteer who does so much for the camp and is completely adored by campers and staff… so we themed a meeting after him. One staff member dressed as him and did an entire entrance scene as Bob, another staff person dressed as a lobster because Bob always hosts a lobster dinner at the camp for the club we partner with (we ARE on the East Coast of Canada after all).
As long as your staff know that this is supposed to be silly and fun, and make sure they’re being kind, I highly recommend this theme. It’s hilarious.
Ok, this is one of my favourite meeting themes. I haven’t done it in years, but when I used to have a smaller staff (and we would split into two groups for meetings) we would all throw our pjs on, bring a pillow, and pile onto my bed to have snacks and meet. FUN!
I like, I wish, I wonder
I really like this one. I don’t know where I found it, but it’s not my original idea.
I always like to go around the circle and ask the staff how their day/ week is going at meetings so this is just a nice way of getting some feedback without always asking the same questions.
Each person has to say one thing they like, one thing they wish, and one thing they wonder.
I honestly have no idea how this one came about… but I know it happened more than once. We would all lie upside down on whatever piece of furniture we were on and go through the meeting notes as though this were a totally normal situation.
At my old camp, we had two dormitory style rooms on either side of a common room. So sometimes we would all climb up on the top bunks on one side and have our meeting up there. It’s such a simple, stupid thing, but it was so much fun.
Describe your day as a colour
This one is pretty straight forward, and a nice way to get a feel for how their day went. Bonus points if everyone comes to the meeting dressed in the colour that represents their day.
Ok, so this one is just weird. I recognize that.
There was a summer where we constantly made the “hand glasses” whenever we needed to have a “serious conversation” (but not actually serious… more just… mundane).
Not familiar with hand glasses? Well, here’s a brief tutorial.
Step 1. Make a circle out of your thumb and pointer finger on each hand, with your other three fingers kept straight.
Step 2. Place the straight fingers on your jaw line below your ears, your elbows should be at about shoulder height and the circle you already made should be pointing down.
Step 3. Swivel the heel of your hands up towards your eyebrows and “connect” the two finger circles over the bridge of your nose.
Volia, you’ve got yourself some sweet hand glasses, so now you can have serious meetings without laughing at all.
*Note: Upside down hand glasses are hard on some people’s wrists. If someone doesn’t want to do it, I recommend the following alternatives: Regular hand glasses, hand binoculars, or a hand monocle.
Ice cream floats
I do this at least once a summer. Buy a large tub of ice cream, a bottle or two of root beer and invite your staff to make a float to have at the meeting. It’s fun and easy and usually a big hit.
As I mentioned earlier, I like to go around the circle and see how everyone is doing. This is a simple way of getting your staff to talk about something good and something not-so-good. A lot of cabin counsellors use this for their lantern time too.
Honestly, this came about because one of the staff had a new dress she was sad she hadn’t had a chance to wear on a break yet. So we had a ‘fancy dress’ meeting, and everyone came dressed up, and we drank punch (*ahem* sprite and frozen juice) and went about our meeting as usual.
Describe your day as a song
You get some pretty funny answers with this one.
Sometimes I like to keep the campfire going after the campers head off to bed and pass the word along that the staff are to join me back down there for meeting. And SOMETIMES I bring marshmallows, or s’more supplies to that meeting.
This was another one that was by request. Ok, we happen to have an indoor, in-ground, heated pool, so it made it a little easier for us to run this meeting. But we told all of the staff (well, the ones who were coming to the meeting) to get changed into their swim gear and meet us in the pool. When they arrived, we had taped glow sticks all over the flutter boards, beach balls, and scattered them along the pool deck, etc.
It was fun, but a little ineffective. All of the floating stuff kept flipping over… because it was heavy on one side… lol … science. And it was kind of a pain in the butt to clean up but the staff loved it.
Run your entire meeting in question form (Kind of like the parlour game) It’s fun if your staff are in on it and they can only speak in questions too… OR you can start off the meeting speak in questions, wait for the weird looks and see how long it takes them to catch on. That’s fun too. haha
5 words or less
When you’re pressed for time, ask everyone to tell you about their day using 5 words or less. Some people just list five words, others craft clever sentences.
To be honest, this is my least favourite one, because I really like to hear about how everyone is doing, but sometimes staff really appreciate a quick meeting – and you can always follow-up after the meeting if something someone said caught your attention.
Who doesn’t love a good parachute game? This is just a fun, silly way to have a meeting. Either use a large indoor space, or head outside with a lantern or two and create a parachute dome with everyone sitting on the inside.
That’s it, nothing special. But
I promise most likely they’ll enjoy it! (I won’t make any promises, because I don’t know your staff… and what if they’re opposed to parachute fun? Then everyone will be disappointed. It’s about managing expectations, friends.🙂 )
Ok, so this is stupid, and hysterical.
My ACD and I used to do this, many moons ago. Whoever wasn’t running the meeting would randomly pass the other one a note during the meeting and they would have to somehow incorporate it into the meeting.
For example: The note said ‘bark like a dog’ the person running the meeting might say “you guys did such a phenomenal job making sure every camper had sunscreen on all day, woof, woof, woof, WOOF, I’m just… just so excited that I needed to bark.”
Of course the staff catch on (or already know about it from previous summers), and start passing their own notes, and it’s just pandemonium.
The trick is to not get caught passing the note though, because if another staff member sees you doing it, then the person running the meeting doesn’t have to use it.
Something you’re proud of
I love this one, it encourages staff to focus on something positive from their day. AND it’s a great way to learn about the things that are important to them.
Highlight/ low light
Just another fun way to find out how everybody’s day went. Bonus points for passing around a flashlight that can be used as a spotlight for highlights and under the chin for lowlights.
Moustache on finger
Remember when everyone went through that phase where we all drew moustaches on our fingers and held them under our noses? Well we made a meeting theme out of that. We passed around a sharpie, everyone drew their moustaches, then we said “moustaches up!” everyone raised their fingers and the meeting began.
Something awesome about the person to your right
This is a nice way to spread the love. Ask them how their day was, and to tell you something awesome about a colleague. Everyone leaves feeling warm and fuzzy. Cause who doesn’t love getting/ giving a compliment?
As straight forward and stupid as it sounds. Tell everyone that dress code for the meeting is a hat from the costume bin, or a made hat. Bonus points for those who come to the meeting in a character or with an accent based on their hat choice.
I don’t know what it is about camp and pirates, but man, we love em’.
I found this really cool pirate toast stamper and made my staff toast for meeting snack. Immediately everyone started talking like a pirate, so that was a fun byproduct of the snack!
Shout out or Snaps to someone else
Ask the staff to highlight something awesome someone else did that day. It doesn’t even have to be someone who’s at the meeting, it can even be something a camper did. It just encourages focusing on the positive and kindness. And it’s great!
Goals for day/ week
I love goal setting. Sometimes I ask the staff to set a goal for their day and/ or week. My absolute favourite thing is when staff check in with me a day or two later to tell me how their goal is going.
Good/ bad/ good
It’s like a compliment sandwich … but less… obnoxious…? (I’m really sorry if I’m offending any compliment sandwich proponents… I just feel like they’re insincere and that we’ve moved past them.)
The staff member tells you two good things and one bad thing about their day (really in any order they want, but most do it in the good/ bad/ good order).
Collect quotes or moments in a jar and read one (or some) at meeting
An old director used to do this, I liked it. It takes a little prep work, but it’s a nice way to start a meeting. You can even read a quote that is the “theme” of the meeting – like they used to do at my old yoga class. That was nice.
Something you learned today
I love this one. I love hearing about things that my staff are learning. And I like sharing something that I’ve learned too (to reinforce the idea that we’re always learning new things, no matter how long we’ve been working at camp).
Sometimes the answers are hilarious and might have something to do with how to turn the water off on a toilet that’s overflowing, and sometimes they’re profound and touch on people discovering a hidden talent, or learning to step outside of their comfort zone. Seriously, I love this one.
Do you guys do themed meetings? I’d love to hear what sort of things you do to make camp just a little more silly and fun.