As we are approaching Summer 2019, it is important to set goals for your camps. You want to make sure your camps are doing some kind of survey, and asking for feedback from your parents/participants. Feedback is tough to swallow sometimes, but if you don’t listen, your program will drop in enrollment and the participants will suffer. One of my favorite things I heard about surveys was that, “If one person says it, there are probably three to four people behind them feeling the same way. Don’t discard something, listen!”
An area that has been falling short for our programs is in our middle school age group. This age group is definitely tricky because of two key factors. So the first factor is that the participant may have been involved in your programs since they were in Kindergarten, or in some sort of childcare their whole life. This is why you have to change it up each Summer and add new ideas. This doesn’t mean abandon traditions, you need to make sure these are in place too. The second factor is that you rarely know if they actually enjoy what you programmed or planned was fun. You were in middle school once, you know how emotional that time is. You are really focused on being “cool” and liked by your peers. Being aware of these two factors is important in your camp prep. This is where design your own shoe comes in!
Nike started the “Doernbecher Freestyle Program” and was started by a kid named Conner Doherty the son of Nike Creative Director. He wanted to enable the patients in the hospital to engage their imaginations and design their own shoes. This program started back in 2003. Some of the designs have been worn by professional athletes and have raised over $17 million dollars. So biggest takeaway from this story is that you should ask your kids what do they want to do and mimic ideas you see or hear about online or see.
You can start your own freestyle program at camp! So first don’t just have them sketch the shoe on a piece of paper, and say they are done. There are a couple of ways to make this impactful.
1. Have the kids do research online. Kids love shoes and tons of things are online to inspire them and give them ideas. A simple program is on nikeid.com, they can actually design shoes on here.
2. Work in teams or they can be alone. Challenge them to present their idea to the whole group. This will help their public speaking skills, and teach them how to get ready for high school and college with this exercise.
3. Lots of documentaries and videos on YouTube to get them excited as well. Shoes are a big business, and if you can inspire them early, they may choose a career in fashion or being an entrepreneur. Show them these videos and documentaries. Many teens have no concept of what does on behind the scenes. They just go to a store or buy it online and do not think twice about the actual process.
4. Have them write out a small business plan. How will they market this shoe, who will they try to get to be a social influencer for the shoe, and how will they stay relevant. Check around in your community and see if any small business leaders can come in to talk about how they are successful. It may have nothing to do with the shoe, but they can learn the business and marketing side.
Design your own shoe is a great activity to do throughout the week, not just a 30 minute activity. Teens are creative, push them to learn and inspire.
I will add more ideas to the Resource Zone in the Youth Programming section. Be on the lookout for more Middle School/Teen programming!