[tkdtalk]

So you’ve been umming and ahhing about whether or not to organise your regional camp. You know that it’s worth 5 contribution credits, but you really don’t know where to start. Now I’m no expert. In fact I’ve only organised one camp. But I can still pass on what I’ve learnt, and I can definitely say it is not a relaxed, stress free, easy experience,

First of all, it doesn’t matter if you have no experience. I’m not a black belt. (she is now! – Editor) I’m not an organizational star; I’m not even 15 yet. I am only a black tip, I’ve never organised a camp, and I’m 14. So yes, if I can cope, you can too.

When you show up for a camp, it really isn’t obvious how much work goes into it. You show up, sign down your name, and dump your gear at a bed. But it really does involve so much more than just that. Where did you show up to? How did your name get registered? What bed are you sleeping in?

Before April 2011, I’ve always been a camp go-er, attending kids camps, regional camps, a Taupo camp too, and I never actually saw how hard it was to organize a camp. But on the 15th, 16th and 17th of April, I saw camps from another angle, and now, I share my ten tips for organising a camp.

Number One: Choose your location

Choose a camp that has the capacity to to sleep at least 70 people. A camp I chose was Waitawheta Camp, as it was central, cheap, and could sleep up to 120. The only downside was that the training hall they had was rather small, and when the rain came, we struggled to fit in, utilizing every spare room we had at our disposal. But the dorms were large, the kitchen equipped, the field muddy for our morning warm ups so all and all the location was almost ideal.

Number Two: Choose a theme

A theme helps you to organise everything else. It gives you a basis to imagine, and a constant idea to relate back to. I went with “earn your stripes”, a military saying about proving yourself. Midlands was having a Boot Camp.

Number Three: Entry Forms

Get them out; Get them to every corner of your region, fast. Fill your entry form with details, like names, numbers, medical, age gender etc. One thing I would definitely recommend is an email address. I didn’t ask for this, and it made it very hard for me to communicate with everyone attending. Encourage people to get them in fast, and say that camp is filling fast even if you only have three people registered, as this encourages people to get their forms in.

Number Four: Delegate

So camp is a go, now you have to worry about all the little things. From food, to bedding, to training, to Saturday night entertainment. The secret is to delegate. I admit I wanted to be the super woman of camp organization, and do everything. I wanted to organize food, as well as the rest. A few women from my club offered to help and I refused at first, wanting to organize food myself. Soon though, they convinced me to let them take care of the food and I am so glad that I let them. It just would have been too much to handle organising food, as well as everything else. Delegating is key, to your own success.

Number Five: Nag

So the entries aren’t going to come in as fast as you hoped, and if you’re anything like me, you will stress. So nag. Email instructors, bug anyone who says they’re not coming, remind everyone as often as you can to get entries in. I even considered putting up a prize for the region with the most entrants. Just keep nagging, get people to camp.

Number Six: Stay on top of the entries

As soon as the entries come in to your letterbox, have a place to put them. Start an excel sheet with all the details on the entry form on it. Then say whether or not that person has paid, and whether or not it has been deposited. Try and deposit the money as fast as possible, as this keeps entrants from worrying about whether or not they’re in. If you get it out of order, or there is a mix up, which I admit, happened to me, don’t panic. Just systematically put it right. That’s all you can do.

Number Seven: Entertainment

Make sure your entertainment is related to your theme. The thought of entertaining 70 people was a scary thing for me. I had to get their attention, make it fun, and make it work. Typically at a regional camp, we get to know each other on Friday night, and then have some sort of team challenge on Saturday night. Not wanting to disturb the order of balance, I did just this. On Friday night, we did speed dating. Two row of chairs, one row moves after 20 seconds and after everyone goes through, ‘Wha lah’, everyone has mingled. People told me that when I first said “speed dating” that they really didn’t know how it was going to go, but after the first few rounds, everyone got involved, and I think it was a good activity to start off. Saturday Night, I did a team “Prisoner of War Quiz”. I made up a list of random questions, as unrelated to Taekwon-Do as I could. I asked questions about Karate, Science, Dora the Explorer, English terms, Geography, as bizarre as I could get. Each team sent forward a hopping, blind folded or crawling representative to give me their answer. If they were right, they could take, or save a “Prisoner of War” from another team. Every few rounds, I’d have a physical challenge, like a team singing competition, building pyramids, the best press up, or balance off’s. Overall, I think it fulfilled the purpose: It was very entertaining.

Number Eight: Training

Well, at first, I had not a clue about how I was meant to organize training, since I was not an instructor, and half the camp attendees were my seniors. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to worry about the training, I just organised people into groups, and the seniors took it from there. My advice? Don’t fret about organising training; just ask your instructor or another senior to sort it out.

Number Nine: Demand people’s attention

When I first arrived at camp, and had to make the first announcement, I was nervous, quiet, and trying to be polite. I interrupted everyone with an “Excuse me, I ah, excuse me, attention, please, thank you”. I was not getting the respect of the people, and Ms Lander actually pulled me aside and told me I needed to demand their respect. From then on, I went up, and yelled loudly, “Attention”. Seniors, juniors, kitchen staff the like all stopped to listen. It was amazing to me that if I demanded the respect of others; I was much more likely to get it. That was the main thing I learnt that weekend.

Number Ten: If nobody sees it go wrong, it doesn’t matter

Straight from the mouth of Mr Brown, one of the organisers of the National Kids Camp. Nobody else knows what is meant to happen, so if they don’t see it happen, they won’t know the difference. That was great advice, as I could relax so much more. So, we don’t get up at 6.15 on the dot, the camp go-ers don’t know the difference, and so it only matters to me.

Hopefully these tips will help you gain the confidence to organise a camp. It really is worthwhile, and seeing everyone have a good time, and even when they come up at the end and say thank you, all the hard work pays off. So relax, don’t stress the small things, and set a date for your region’s next camp.