No Hand Cake Challenge and Josh Jarman!

I found another winner! I was scrolling through Facebook and saw the “No Hand Cake Challenge!” In the world of COVID-19, there is no touching and you can use your own cake or fun food to eat. The perfect challenge to entertain kids and staff. You can also keep people six feet apart and use more than two people if you would like to. How to do this contest? Just have the contestant keep their hands behind their back and have them move their body across the floor without using their hands. First one to take a bite of the cake across the room is the winner. For safety reasons, they don’t have to finish the cake. This is important so you don’t have someone choking. Classic rule, “Is it fun, is it safe?” Check out this video on Facebook, and search Arron Crascall.

I also came across one of my old files from an old colleague named Josh Jarman. I keep everything, I am pretty sure my storage drive on my work computer could be the size of my Napster music collection from college.

The Josh Jarman Life Rules…

  1. Never say its not my job, never say I wish I had.

2. Smile, you are in the business of changing lives.

3. Be interested, less interesting.

4. Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want to have.

5. Assume the best and encourage each other.

6. Love God, love others and nothing else matters.

7. Be bold and not silent.

8. Be a sponge and learn.

9. When going out, be safe, have fun, and no pictures (they will get you in trouble.)

10. Leave it better than you found it.

11.Keep your head up and heels down.

12. Do you best and leave the rest up to God.

13. When in doubt go to the mountains.

14, Leave good tracks.

15.Its 2:30, go change lives.

When I find old files or training documents, they always make me smile. You can tell by reading this list, that Josh put his heart and soul into his job. Josh wanted his staff to know that he is human, and that he cared for the people he worked with. He wanted them to succeed. I always try to pull 1-2 things when I hear someone train or speak, and I love number 8 from his list. Be a sponge and learn. You may have just started your career or been in the position a long time. You are never to good at something, to not learn something new. I have always challenged myself to do this. We all can have an ego, and hear someone speak, and immediately say I know this or this is already boring. If you train yourself to listen, you will always find something to use. This is a big reason I have stuck with this website. I want to share the things I steal or have with other people. We all can help each other. Check out the Resource Zone for more ideas. Have a great week!

You Can Be Hulk Hogan? Community Builders Help Keep The Fun In A Meeting Or Training!

This is a Youth Program website, but if you are in a corporate office job, don’t discount this idea. Fun should be happening in any job, regardless if this doesn’t fit your work culture. A community builder is something that you do to start a meeting or a staff training. These are especially important if you don’t know everyone in the room or you are trying to learn about your team besides saying “Hey, can you look at the budget, and tell me why this is happening?”. There are many community builders that you can do, but this one is a fun idea to me. I grew up on WWF and WCW wrestling. If you are younger, and you don’t know who these two are in the picture, go to YouTube and watch a WWF Summer Slam or Monday Night Raw, and you will see how everyone was locked into watching wrestling. I have seen many community builders through my tenure working in the youth program/non-profit world of the YMCA. These community builders usually take the shape of the personality of the person leading, and is a fun way to delegate to staff so they have ownership of the meeting. Since I loved wrestling, I follow the motto of “Do what you love, love what you do.” We all attend meetings and trainings, sometimes multiple times a day. Why not make it fun, and change it up every once in a while? Some community builders can be serious, and some don’t have to be this over the top, but find your timing and don’t be scared to shake things up a little.

This community builder is called “You Can Be Hulk Hogan!”. You can do this with a partner or by yourself. Let the room or virtual room know that you will be given 3-5 minutes to choose the following…

  1. You must choose a wrestler name.
  2. Choose your intro song,
  3. Choose your secret skill.
  4. Choose your move/dance move/look to the crowd to get them fired up.
  5. Choose your costume (This one can be if you want to give them a day to think about it and present it. Good for staff trainings.)

Have them present to the larger group and share. This is fun to see what personalities you have on your team, but also more importantly forget about WORK for a few minutes. Culture and fun should live together. Your team should have a moment to breathe, instead of jumping straight into the day to day tasks. If you think you can’t do this, you may want to reevaluate your place of employment. I will say that you need to make sure the community builder doesn’t take over the whole meeting, set time limit, and move on. As a participant of a meeting, it does get frustrating if you arrive and wonder the purpose of the meeting, or feel that you will not have time to cover what you need to do. Keep in mind that engaging employees is critical for retaining valuable talent and is an important piece of the employment satisfaction puzzle. So remember, don’t be scared to start a meeting with some fun. Even if you feel awkward, that may be a good thing for you and your company. The “same ol, same ol” isn’t going to work now. I have included this community builder in the Staff Training section of the Resource Zone on my website. For those new to reading, about 90 percent of my content is stolen/shared ideas. Be a sponge!

Social Distancing Game Ideas During COVID-19 Part 2!

how to create an antique pirate or treasure map

I posted some COVID-19 game ideas back in April, and wanted to do a follow up post with a few more ideas for you! As you are moving through Summer Day Camp or you may be preparing for the Fall, feel free to steal, and use any of these games/activities. This is a challenging time, and programming is tough, there is no doubt about it. I didn’t think this would last as long as it has, but here we are! If you continue to add new ideas in, this will help with staff and camper morale.

  1. Make A Treasure Map: Give the campers a piece of paper (Cardstock paper works well) to design a treasure map to find the hidden treasure around camp. Tell them to customize their map how they want or you can tell them to make the pirate map using camp locations. Either way, this is their map, and let them design. When they are done making it, have the campers dip the paper into tea to make the paper turn brown. If you don’t have a thick paper, you can still use regular paper, and have them sprinkle the tea on the paper. Either way, have fun! Have the camper tear the corners and have the counselor burn the edges to make it look like a real treasure map. Then actually have them find a fun “treasure” you have hid at camp by giving them fun clues. X marks the spot!
  2. Airplane Day: Have the campers design airplanes and build them. Tons of great resources online, Youtube, etc. Then have different competitions to see who has the best airplane. Most flips, go the farthest, go the highest, and biggest crash! Easy and fun activity where all the campers have their own paper and supplies.
  3. Nature Collage: Go outside with the campers and have them search different areas outside for cool nature things such as pine cones, sticks, blades of grass, leaves, etc..Have the campers arrange this on paper to make a fun collage. Tracing leaves is also a fun idea!
  4. Design A Robot: Tell the campers to design a robot that can do whatever they wish for. Have them take their paper, and draw their robot. Tell the campers to be prepared to have a story to tell others about what cool things their robot can do. Tell them to be creative, money is no object when building and designing the robot.
  5. Build, Destroy, Build: Give campers their own jenga blocks, legos, cubes, or items you can easily sanitize. You are going to have the campers use their own specific pieces you give them, and have them make their own creations/structures. Then have them destroy their creation, and have them make another. Tell them to not get upset because things are going to get destroyed. Give them different challenges such as building the tallest tower or the strongest structure than can hold a counselor binder or book,etc..
  6. String Maze: You can use chairs and the walls to tape string and weave in and out to make a fun obstacle course. The campers can climb over, under, or through. If they touch the string, they are out, and have to go back to the starting line. Duct tape works best, but use whatever you can find!
  7. 4 Corners: Have the person in the middle of the room and they are the caller. Make sure they keep their eyes closed. Have them count to 10, and the campers have to find a corner to go to. They must be 6 feet apart in their corner. If the caller calls their number, they are out. The last one standing wins!

Monday’s are very important. Make sure the counselors/staff do the following…

  1. Play a name game.
  2. Go over rules.
  3. Explain expectations in your huddle.
  4. Know if any of your campers have special needs and how to accommodate.
  5. Know camper’s names.
  6. All campers get a bead necklace (Great way to reward character development. (Can send you more info if you have questions.)

I hope some of these ideas will help you as you try and navigate this difficult time. Please share and steal ideas. I have tons of ideas posted in the Resource Zone.

Special Guests! How To Make Camp Memorable During COVID-19!

Programming during COVID-19 can be challenging, and this Summer heat can wear you down. I love special guests, and there is nothing better than having your local fire department come out to your camp and spray the campers and staff. Let me take you back to when you were in school as a student, and you had a substitute teacher. Most people would get excited because you knew that this would be a different day, and possibly a movie would be put in. This is how I think campers think when they see a special guest arrive at camp! They get a new voice/person, and their day is different. Your staff are entertained, and the programming is off their shoulders for at least that activity period. They can sit back and relax, and like this event, they can get in on the fun with the kids as a participant. It is important to not forget about your staff. They are in this summer heat, and they are going through a lot mentally and socially as well. Let them be a kid again, and run through the water, and forget about the crazy world for a few minutes.

There are several ways to coordinate special guests during COVID-19. Talk with your board members and members of your YMCA or community. You may hear some great ideas. Budgets are tight, and there are many free things you can have inside your camp. Police department, Fire department, EMS, High School and College Career Advisors, and local business leaders. If you have them inside your camp, make sure they are screened, and their temperature is taken. Then have them speak to your groups, have them rotate between the individual groups you have. It is important for them to see these leaders in person, ask questions, and inspire them for the future. I also love having old staff coming back to speak to the campers. Many of my staff are now in professional careers, and want to help inspire the future youth. When we focus on youth development, it is important for you to teach these campers that they must work hard, and set goals. When they see and hear actual stories, it helps push them to succeed.

I heard this quote the other day, “Be teachable. You’re not always right.” Devotion time with your campers is also important. Share quotes with them, you are also like a special guest. You have the amazing opportunity to inspire them as well. It is important to not take that for granted. With all the craziness around them, please take the time to pause. Speak, listen, and reflect. Make devotion time fun as well. Use pictures, real life stories from your childhood, and make sure there are appropriate for your age group too. Special guests and your staff make camp memorable. I have included this in the Resource Zone and featured under Youth Programming.

Kites and Cloud Watching!

We all need to slow down sometimes. If you are looking for some more activities to do during this strange time, I suggest Kites and Clouds. My CEO stopped by to visit one of our programs, and gave me two good suggestions that can be relatable for anyone right now. If you are wanting to get your kids or child outside, these two suggestions are classics that may have been forgotten or possibly never tried before. In a world where we are addicted to our phones and screens, these ideas give you a break from that world. Working with children, we need to set that example and give them outlets to break away.

Kite Flying

You can make your own kite or buy them online from anywhere really from $9.99 and up. We do many things with groups of 10, so if you have 10 kites you can rotate them, keep them sanitized, and make them last for a large group. If you are creative, and want to make your own, you can do that too! I have seen cool kites made out of garbage bags and other things that you may have around camp or your home. Don’t stop there! Have the kids compete to see who can keep their kite in the air the longest, relays with the kids running with them, and who can make their kite do the coolest trick. If you want to keep it low key, you can also just have the kid fly their kite. This will take their mind off things, and is a great way for them to develop confidence.

Cloud Watching

Have your group of kids go outside and lay down on the grass. Tell them to pause for 10 minutes, and look up, and describe what they are seeing in the sky. What shapes, colors, creatures, or other things they spy in the sky. The fun activity is all about the kids using their imagination and having a chance to practice mindfulness! Wrap up the activity by telling the kids to stop looking down and learn to look up more. When you learn to look around, you may see or think of something that you have never found before.

These two ideas are nothing new, kites and cloud watching have been around forever. The difference is that your kids may not have had a chance to do this. I haven’t laid down on the grass in a long time to look at the clouds, and neither have your kids probably. In this crazy time, stress and nervousness is a very real thing for many of our kids and staff. Create an environment at your camp or program that welcomes calm and peacefulness. Love on your staff and help them too! I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check this out for more fun ideas to help make your program 1 percent better!

Dots! App Store To Camp During COVID-19!

I recently came across this game from Chuck Steinfurth a new friend/colleague at the YMCA. Dots hit the App Store in 2013 and now it has hit camps during COVID. if you don’t remember this game, it is an easy and fun way to maintain social distance while having fun. Dots has a simple goal, connect same colored dots vertically or horizontally to win points. Make a square to win even more! As you can see from the picture, you can make this game with any kind of rules you want, and set any kind of timer. I wanted to highlight this game because it uses pool noodles which are easy to disinfect, you can space kids apart, and it takes very little equipment. You can also play this game inside or outside, don’t let limited space stop you! I know this has been a challenge this Summer, so if you see something that is played in a large gym/room, move it outside if you have the field space.

Games from our childhood and old school things are a big hit right now. Old School Wii Games, simple tag games with pool noodles, nature walks, bird feeders, archery, and we just recently did an Easter egg hunt. Kids need social interaction and to be outside. They are just wanting to have simple fun. That is why I mentioned nature walk. Yeah its hot, but kids need to move, and just get off the screen of their phone, tablet, or TV. You have the power and platform to help their social and emotional well being. Continue to try things, even when the kids complain when you start the activity. Kids just want to do the same thing over and over, this was the same mindset before the pandemic. If you continue to do the same things, you will lose staff, enrollment, and your passion for why you are working with kids.

Thank you to all the leaders out there working through COVID and providing summer camp opportunities for your communities. I have put this activity in the Resource Zone. Check this out for more fun ideas and ways to make your program 1 percent better!

5 STEM Space Ideas from UCF Engineering Department!

Child cuts out colored planets.

Austin came across my website recently and wanted to share a cool article to add to the Resource Zone from the University of Central Florida Engineering department. I will summarize the article and list the 5 Space STEM ideas for you to use at Summer Camp. If you are not using themes, I highly encourage you to do this. Staff can dress up, and you can have a focus for your week. It will make it fun and encourage skill development too. STEM isn’t just a buzz word or gimmick. STEM Jobs are growing at a fast rate, and exposing your campers to this kind of programming will be very beneficial to them. The full article is found here https://www.ucf.edu/online/engineering/news/five-stem-space-activities/

  1. Straw Rocket Competition – https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/pdfs/sodastrawrocket.pdf
  2. How To Build A Telescope – https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/nature/make-a-telescope/
  3. Walk Like An Astronaut – https://www.teachengineering.org/lessons/view/cub_solar_lesson05
  4. Host A Space Lander Competition – https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/418011main_OTM_Touchdown.pdf
  5. Chart A New Galaxy – https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/starfinder2/en/

I will include the detailed activities UCF listed in the Resource Zone under Youth Programming.

Air Hockey! COVID Game Ideas

If you are looking for a cool social distancing game to do at your Summer Camp, check out Air Hockey! I also have a few others I have seen from colleagues listed in the Resource Zone on the website. Air Hockey is a simple game that doesn’t require a ton of a equipment and is affordable to do! It is also safe and fun! That’s usually my checklist right now. Safe, Fun, Not Much Equipment, and Affordable. If it meets these 4 requirements, you should do it! So what is Air Hockey?

Air Hockey develops coordination and blocking. All you need are pool noodles, tape, bean bags, and cones. This picture was taken pre COVID-19 so just a few modifications needed. Add an extra noodle to make the distance a little more and add space in between the kids sitting. If you don’t have extra bean bags to sanitize then have the kids wear latex free gloves. You can also use gator balls, small balls, anything that slides or moves that can teach coordination and blocking. I saw this game on thepeshed.com a great resource to find ideas. This picture is from Middlebranch-Avondale PE.

It’s always great to make modifications and have a plan while this virus is around! Check out my website for more fun ideas!

Save The Summer. You Are A Superhero!

Summer Camp is almost here, and I wanted to share an idea I had with you. I usually share other ideas that I find, but this one is super important to me, and I think you could find useful as you lead staff or campers. All I hear is “2020 is the worst”, “Can I hit reset”, “new normal”, “this Summer will not be the same”, and so on. These kids need camp more than ever. They need social and emotional stability. They need to laugh, smile, and just be a kid again. Yes this year has been awful, but you have a choice as a camp director or counselor. We didn’t choose the pandemic, but we do have a choice on how we can respond! Be A Superhero! It’s camp, yes we will be doing tons of cleaning and following safety protocols this Summer, but be a Superhero to these kids. Save the Summer and bring back fun and excitement to these kids. The Flash said “Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give Life purpose.”

2020 Camp Training/Summer Idea: I spoke to one of my Summer Camp Staff teams and told them that there is power when you have this cape on. There is power everyday you work with kids, don’t take that for granted. You have no idea the impact that you will make, especially given the current circumstances. Now this was a group of veteran counselors, so they know this power somewhat. I reminded them that this Summer is unique. Kids have been home for a long time and may be living in tough and potentially hostile family environments. Some campers haven’t even done online learning or participated in any group chats. They have been isolated from many things. Your energy, positive attitude, and smile will change their Summer and even the rest of their year as they move into a new school year.

*Counselor Of The Week: Each week a counselor will be awarded a cape for their strong efforts.

*In the picture I cut a piece of the cape to put on their bead necklace. Every time they look at this, let it be a reminder that they are a Superhero and the kids need you. If you don’t use bead necklaces please do. Simple way to reward good character and add unique beads besides just color beads.

*Watch the “Be A Mr. Jensen” video on YouTube.

*Use a Superhero quote each week. Post in staff email, staff office, somewhere to have a visual reminder of how awesome they are.

I will add this to the Resource Zone. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to steal, share, and make your own. Ideas are meant to be shared, not kept locked up! Have A Great and Safe Summer.

The Valley Will Speak, If You Listen!

Amazon.com: Michael Scott (Quotes) Get Motivated's Poster 12 x 18 ...

Devotions are great to use with your staff and participants so they have a chance to slow down and reflect. They are good for you too! Especially if you are leading people, you need to be fed too. One of my old staff happened to call me out of the blue. I have loved catching up with people during this time and always enjoy talking. Sorry, not sorry! They are trying to figure out some things and needed some advice. Many of us during this crazy time have hit every emotion possible. I have good days and I have bad days too. It’s ok to have an off day or days. I have said this many times to myself, because I know personally I try to think I can solve or figure out a solution instead of just trusting myself. No one has all the answers or makes the perfect decision every time.

Ironically I recently came across this devotion right before talking to my friend and helped guide our conversation. This message is for all my job seekers or anyone feeling like they could be stuck or not sure what they want to do next. This is not my devotion, and apologies as I can’t remember where this is from, and may not do it full justice. I just wrote it down in my folder and incorporated some of my thoughts too…

I was rejected for an internal position I applied for even though I was the top candidate. I later learned the person hired was a friend of my boss. I got tired of the office politics and started applying to other companies, and within 3 moths I got a much better job. My old boss asked me to come back for the same promotion. I told him “thanks but no thanks.”

Lessons learned:

  1. You can be the best candidate and still not get selected.
  2. If you didn’t get the job, it was never meant for you.
  3. You weren’t rejected, you were redirected.
  4. .Your value does not decrease based upon someone’s inability to see your worth.
  5. Believe in yourself and keep trying, the right door will open for you.

The key to this devotion for me is that you need to believe in yourself. That is easier said than done, and skeptics may see I have been looking for years, not three months. That’s the problem, you are not living into your story and have lost focus. Everyone is different, and the more you compare the more lost you will be. I have been in situations where I was devastated that I didn’t get a position or job that I have wanted. I have also been in situations that I thought this was the PERFECT place for me, but it didn’t work out. The key to my failures and future failures are that I have pushed myself to listen when I am in the valley. That’s the spot where adversity is, and nothing seems to go right. I used to dismiss the valley, blamed others, and closed myself off. That’s easy to do. It is also easy to stay comfortable and do what is easy instead of focusing on what you may need to improve. F.A.I.L. (First Attempt In Learning), love this acronym. It’s ok to try new things or push yourself! If you don’ t try, then you will never know what could have happened. The peak of the mountain is fun. You are on top of the world, but success is never permanent. What you learn when things don’t go your way will be vital to your trip back to the mountain top. Good luck to all the 2020 graduates and job seekers!

I will post this devotion in the Resource Zone, feel free to steal, add, share. That’s why my website is here!