Filling Time

I’ve had the opportunity to run my own camp this week. It’s called “Jurassic Bricks” where we build a different dinosaur each day. I had a great group of seven boys who are all experienced lego builders. This means that the builds themselves go by very quickly. This also means that there is a lot of extra time. Although there has been no complaints from the campers, I feel compelled to fill that time. Another reason I feel compelled to fill the extra time is because boys can quickly become rambunctious, and I don’t want to be in a position where I’m constantly telling them “no, you can’t do that.” I think providing a more structured activity option could be the answer.

First Attempt

My first attempt at providing another option during their station play/centers did not go over so well. I found, copied out, and printed a bunch of different dinosaur-themed puzzles. I sat and did one to try it out, and one boy took the sheet home. I mentioned a couple of times that they were available, but no one else was interested. It’s also not a very enticing option compared to office chair races (which I immediately nipped in the bud).

Second Attempt

Each day (except Wednesday, the reasoning of which will be explained in a different post), we have a game before centers. On Monday, we did a relay race. It was a balance skill race and didn’t go very well. It was too easy for most of the boys, except one, which made him feel that much worse I’m sure. On Tuesday, we did lego pictionary where I chose a few different, simple builds. Each builder drew one of my options and tried to get the rest of the group to guess. We even had a round where they each came up with their own idea. I, again, felt like this was too easy and went too quickly. On Thursday, which was my second attempt at filling the time, we played minifigure charades. This game is played with minifigure bingo calling cards (from the bingo game we play each day). There is one guesser while the rest of the group are actors. Each actor is giving clues about the minifigure on the card, while the guesser has three minutes to come up with the correct minifigure character. This went over very well. We played two rounds using some of the easier characters. This game was repeated on Friday.

Third Attempt

This time, I elicited ideas from the group. I took all of the ideas and wrote them down on the board. We voted on the interest in each one and did our best to make them work. We ended up doing office chair races with specific guidelines, which actually ended up going well.


One thing that I added on Thursday that I think helped incentivize group participation were individual points. I had the thought earlier in the week but waited to try it out. Each participant earned points for correct guesses, race victories, battle bot victories, and well-given clues. The final bingo game of the week was “the great equalizer” where the first one to get blackout bingo got five points, the next got four, then three, and so on. The prize for most number of points earned was a dinosaur themed fossil kit. This particular way of earning points with a special prize at the end of the week was great for this particular group. It may not work elsewhere, but I will definitely use it again if the situation seems to call for it.


What do you think of my attempts? Is there something I could have done better or different? Is there such a thing as too much structure in a summer camp, or too much down time? Any tips on balancing the two? Please comment below!


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A teacher I read about suggested that you have vigorous activity first thing it will expend their energy and would help them to focus. One drawback would be calming them down.


I do like this idea. I thought about doing a dinosaur-themed follow the leader but wasn’t sure how well it would go over with a slightly older group of kids.

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