5 Ways to Engage In-Person and Hybrid Summer Camp Participants


With the pandemic abating and the school year coming to a close, many students will be entering summer camps. Whether in-person or hybrid, it can be difficult to keep children engaged with the materials while also ensuring they enjoy their experience. We’ve compiled a list of 5 effective strategies to keep your summer camp participants engaged.

  1. Tell a story

    storytime-1Information alone is not particularly entertaining. To get your summer camp participants excited, try presenting information in a narrative. The story will hook their attention and increase the likelihood that they retain the information, all while making the presentation fun. This holds both in-person and through the screen.

  2. Present a choice

    It is almost always more enjoyable to choose what you do than to have an activity forced on you. When children are told they must participate in a given activity, it tends to make them feel less engaged and more reluctant. Instead, try presenting camp participants with a choice between activities. These activities can be simple and easy to monitor. For instance, you can supplement your pre-existing plan with the option to read at certain intervals. This lets participants feel in control of their experience, making them excited to engage with whatever they choose to do.

  3. Incorporate creativity

    Creating something out of nothing brings with it a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Leverage this by teaching campers how to draw, make origami, or write a story. Because they are able to express themselves, creative acts keep children focused and enthused. As an added bonus, these activities can be designed to teach skills that will translate into the classroom. Measuring, writing, and sketching will only help campers succeed when they return to school.

  4. Show and tell

    Tying your activities or lessons back to the campers in a relevant way makes the whole process much more personal. Have campers bring in something they care about and explain it in light of what they’ve been doing. This will make them feel special while also making sure they understand why their camp activities are relevant to their lives.

  5. Use online games

    There are a host of free educational games on the internet. These games can teach campers anything from math to science and language arts -- keeping them entertained while improving their academic skills. These are great for hybrid camps as well as in person, provided the campers have access to computers or tablets. Games can also serve as one of the options for activities when incorporating choice, as mentioned above.

If you’re looking for more ways to ensure camp runs smoothly, AfterSchool21 (AS21) software allows you to easily collect and analyze attendance and outcomes data, giving insight into attendance and performance, so you know what’s working and what isn’t. 

It also makes it easy to ensure your camp meets state and federal requirements, meaning less stress and more smiling campers. 

AfterSchool21 (AS21) is used by more 21CCLC programs than any other after-school program data management software. AS21 supports in-person, hybrid, and virtual programs by streamlining attendance, tracking outcomes, collecting evidence of participation, and simplifying reporting for the 21APR.

Learn more about how AS21can help programs reach their goals while making reporting requirements less onerous here.

Alyssa Thornley

About The Author

Alyssa Thornley has spent her career working to support schools and communities in providing opportunity to all students. In positions as a teacher, professional development coordinator, and as a volunteer, she has focused on the community’s role in education, and in designing efficient programs that work for diverse needs. Alyssa leads TransACT’s customer engagement and market strategy efforts, and works to ensure innovative programs, guidance, and thought leadership from across the country’s districts are being shared and spread.