We hit a bit of a heat wave this summer.
Guys, it was HOT.
We’re always very aware of the need to keep our campers hydrated but this was a red alert situation, so we had to get creative. Here are two ways we made keeping our campers safe and healthy a little easier.
- We got the campers involved.
My camp’s brilliant assistant camp director, Donna McPherson came up with a great (and super cute) system for getting our campers involved in making sure they were getting enough H20. She created a template where each camper got to put a sticker on their glass each time they had a glass of water, and she called it a Water Log (so clever and cute!!).
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but as soon as someone says “stickers” I’m in. (But, as we’ve already established I’m kind of a nerd, so maybe not everyone gets as excited about stickers as I do. Although I find that hard to believe.)
Donna created the template for the log then just photocopied it and wrote the camper’s name in the first glass.
She hung them up in the dining hall, but you could hang them in the cabin, or any other high traffic area.
There were stickers near by and campers put one on the cup that corresponded with the camp day each time they had a drink.
(Ok I confess, I stuck a couple of stickers on so I could snap this photo before the campers arrived – because I knew I wouldn’t remember to get a photo once they were on site)
It’s such a simple solution to a really important issue. The campers totally bought in, and the staff were sad that they didn’t have water logs too (ok, mostly me).
I think this will be most effective with younger campers, but depending on how you frame it, it could really work with any age group.
Worried about using paper?
No problem, there are many other, more permanent ways you can make this work at your camp. You can create the system then just reuse with each group of new campers.
- Use a large white board, draw the logs on in permanent marker then fill in the camper name with erasable marker. Have the campers draw a check mark, x, smiley face, or whatever to track their H20 intake. Then just erase and start over for the next session.
- Use a large chalkboard, draw the logs on in paint then fill in the camper name with chalk and to track their H20 intake.
- Use some thin craft wood for each sheet and use chalk to fill it out, or use some sticky tack and those little wooden shapes you can buy.
- Use felt or foam sheets, and have campers stick stickers on them (they come off pretty easy) OR use shapes cut out of the same material or purchased, with some sticky tack or velcro to keep them on.
- Use a combination of any of the above. Foam shapes will totally stick to a whiteboard with some sticky tack.
So many options!!
Our other solution came from one of our head counsellors.
I like to keep in touch with my staff throughout the year, for a few reasons:
1. Because they’re humans that I really respect and enjoy talking to
2. Because it actually helps with retention A LOT
3. Because they’re full of excellent ideas and I like to pick their brains from time to time
The third reason is how we got this next idea. I asked some of the returning staff for ideas, one of those “if money was no object, what would you want for the camp” questions. One of the HC’s said “it would be really great if there was some sort of water station outside, so we didn’t always have to keep running back and forth with cups and water pitchers”.
I said “awesome, I love it, let’s do it. We’ll call it the Hydration Station”
2. We made it more easily accessible
I took an old file cart that wasn’t being used anymore and added a Coleman water cooler on one side, a mesh bag for the used cups on the other side and a box underneath for clean cups. And voila, a super easy portable Hydration Station.
You can’t tell in the photo, but the box closes to keep the cups clean while the station is being moved from point A to point B.
Now something like this works great for my camp because we’re completely barrier free and accessible. We’re a small site with (relatively) flat, paved walk ways between each location because we cater to campers with disabilities and it makes their experience a whole lot more enjoyable when they can actually get to the places they need to be without a whole lot of assistance. So having this cart on wheels is a no brainer for us.
Maybe your camp is a little more ‘rustic’; not all camps have paved walk ways, and those wheels wouldn’t do well with gravel, wood chips, or mud so you might want to come up with some solutions that work for your site.
- Use bigger, thicker wheels. Wheels from a wagon, cart, mountain bike, or anything designed to be used on the beach could work
- Use a sturdier frame (people are doing really cool things with pvc pipes these days), that combined with your new wheels will make you unstoppable!
- Set up a few, semi permanent, or permanent stations around camp. Maybe you have a huge site and a bazillion campers, and lugging one little cart around makes zero sense. If you don’t already have water fountains placed around your camp, (or would like to spend less money) maybe you could put a few of these at key locations around your camp
So there you have it. Some super easy, inexpensive ways to keep your campers hydrated, happy, and healthy.
Also, I hope that another take away from this post is that we all need to be asking for ideas and input from our colleagues, they are FULL of amazing ideas, we just have to tap into that and it will make everyone’s camp experience so much richer.
Do you have any tips or tricks to keeping your campers drinking lots of water? Tell me about it in the comment section below.