We are firmly in the dregs of winter, but many Clubs are already thinking about the next big thing…
With longer programming days and the bummer that we’ve collectively been experiencing, we want summer at the Club to be extra special and just a blast for everyone. But right now? That comes with some things to consider.
While in many parts of the country COVID policies and regulations are changing constantly and also can be really different from even city to city, it’s a good idea to already be gathering ideas for special events or field trips that will be both safe and fun. And keep in mind that situations may change, so you may need to be flexible with your plans. (Something we are good at in Clubs!) Thankfully, over the past couple of years there have been a ton of good ideas shared in the BGCA Youth Development Group over on Facebook, and I also went searching the internet and the ClubX Blog archives for more.
Important Note! Follow all state or local guidelines with any of these ideas, as well as your organization’s policies. Visit BGCA.net/coronavirus for more guidance or contact your organization’s BGCA Director of Development.
Here are some ideas for fun, COVID-friendly special events and field trips for summer:
Water and Ice Make Everything Nice
Becca from BGC of the North Valley shared that they enjoy a “Club-wide water balloon fight/water day. (Had to do that a couple times the past couple of years when our pool trips got canceled.)” Hosting a Water Day is definitely something special. At my Club, the local fire department would come at the end of summer each year to hose everyone down, and it was always a blast. A relatively inexpensive and easy treat option for these kinds of events is a shaved ice truck, if you have some budget. If you don’t have access to a fire truck or a large area to set up inflatables that can have water, water balloon games may be an option.
This roundup of ideas also includes some water games, as well as activity ideas for making ice cream and popsicles.
Stay Dry (Well, Except For Sweat Probably (Gross)) With Field Day
Water games may not be a good option based on your site type or location, but still getting outside to play some games would be fun. I mean, we all loved Field Day at school! You can find a ton of ideas for Field Day events online, but this one is a solid master list, including supplies needed and even some video instructions. Consider having your teen or tween groups plan and run the activities for younger youth (and be sure to have something special just for them as a thank you and celebration).
Bring the Exhibits to You
Chelsea from BGC North Kitsap said “We are having a local shaved ice truck come, we are doing Home Depot workshops, we have a magician coming and a local farm bringing animals. A local baker is coming to do a cookie painting class and a local photographer is coming to do a photo shoot.” That sounds like a jam-packed schedule! Similar ideas from Pam at the Salvation Army BGC of Charleston WV: “Going to have people come to us. Trying for a construction company and some of their equipment. We have a Raptor Center that brings birds. Have a parent that is a K-9 and they brought some K-9 dogs and did a demo. Always Police Fire and EMS to touch the trucks. This also counts toward Career Readiness. :)”
Bringing in a few folks to your Club to lead activities or do presentations cuts down on exposure for your staff and youth. Local zoos or animal sanctuaries, museums (especially Science Museums!), artists, performers, or other community organizations are places to reach out to. Also at my former Club, the children’s librarians would come do readings once a week for the younger members in the summer, so it might be worth contacting your library to see if they would do something similar. Bonus points if they would lead a tween book club!
Look For Locations in the Great Outdoors
Sometimes you just want to leave the space you are in and put your eyes on something else! Choosing field trip locations that will keep your group outside is a COVID-friendlier option. Consider outdoor zoos, botanical gardens or other open-air museums or exhibits, or outdoor amusements like go-kart tracks or mini golf. Even a low-key trip to a local park gives a fun change of scenery- pack up a picnic lunch and some equipment for a soccer game to keep youth occupied. If you have hiking trails nearby, consider asking a park ranger or a member of a local conservation society to guide your group, pointing out plants and wildlife. Be sure to have plenty of water on hand and masks in case of a visitor’s center if needed.
Get Creative With Art Outside
Many of the activities you already do could be moved to an outdoor space at your Clubhouse, keeping in mind that you may need some extra supervision depending on your setup. It sounds basic, but just that simple shift from inside to outside can feel special and different. Arts activities in particular are good candidates for this. Here’s a list of ideas using sidewalk chalk:
Outdoors might not be an option depending on your program space! Or the weather may interfere. If so, hosting a Club-wide party for no reason other than “Let’s Have Fun!” can totally happen inside. In this throwback ClubX post, I shared some ideas for parties that aren’t just ordering pizza and having free time:
In the BGCA Youth Development Group, Alex from BGC of the Lower Naugatuck Valley suggested a Nerf War in the Gym, making sure youth wear safety glasses and have signed permission slips. Yvonne from the Navy CYP Oceana Youth Center said they set up old pallets for obstacles and set up targets for their Nerf Wars.
I Just Love This Idea So Much It Gets Its Own Point!
Finally, I am just so obsessed with this idea Yvonne from the Navy CYP Oceana Youth Center shared that I had to highlight it specifically. She said, “We have a great area that has lots of trees so we purchased hammocks and did summer reading in the trees. We also created faux campfire area with youth sitting around reading books. We have done hot chocolate for those who reach certain reading goals and healthy snacks while they are reading.” She shared this visual of the faux campfire which is just the cutest:
We know that if it involves reading, I’m gonna love it, but also this is such a great example of using the space you have, an activity/initiative you already do or want to do, and making it feel extra special. It’s also the kind of thing that you could build a pitch for local funding for, since literacy is always a hot ticket item. If you don’t have outdoor space that would be suitable, how could you create some cozy corners within the Club that would serve a similar purpose? What kinds of unique incentives could be reserved just for this? The possibilities are endless.
The most important idea though? Focus on the FUN! And to connect with Clubs across the Movement and get more ideas like this, be sure to join the BGCA Youth Development Group on Facebook.