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Build a Camp Schedule

Camp Theme

In order to build a camp schedule, you will want to think about your camp’s theme. Whether you choose an “Extra Themey” theme, a “Half Themey” theme, or even a “No Theme” theme, you will want to decide this before working on the rest of your day-to-day camp schedule. Not sure how to go about choosing a theme for your camp? Check out our camp theme resources page.

Camp Length

In order to build a camp schedule, you need to know how long your camp session is. This might be the most obvious step when building your camp schedule; nonetheless, it is important to not overlook this detail. Is your camp a weeklong? Does it last all summer? If it lasts all summer, do the same group of campers return from week to week, or do you have a new group of campers each week? Think about your camp session from start to end in terms of the campers themselves who are experiencing it.

Tips for Building Your Schedule

Establish Your Team

Who is responsible for creating and managing the schedule? Usually this is the head director or a team of directors. If you are working on a team, make sure you establish roles. For example, is anyone in ‘charge’ or the ‘lead’ and has final say? This will reduce any tension or awkward conversations down the road!

Establish Your Timeline

Establish your timeline. It’s a good idea to begin meeting with enough time before your camp session; anywhere from six-three months before your session (though we know some camps prep for a camp session a year in advance!.

This is also a good time to establish DEADLINES. When do you need to finalize the camp session schedule?

Establish Your Budget

Establish your budget for the camp session. How much money do you have to spend on this session? And, who’s managing the funds? Depending on your camp structure, you might have a company purchase card that you can use for expenses (and just make sure you keep all receipts). Or, you might a get a cash advance to spend on the session. However you get the money you need, just make sure you’re keeping track of what you’re spending on, and always refer back to your budget that you established in the beginning.

Sample Camp Schedule

The sample camp schedule below was created for a weeklong, overnight, co-ed summer camp with approximately 100 campers aged 8-17.


7:30 – 8:00 AM

Wake up – rise and shine! 

Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, waking up early and getting ready for the day is a very important part of the camp schedule! It’s a good idea to keep a structure to your camp day and camp week. Yes, it may be tiring (especially near the end of the week!), but good structure keeps kids active, responsible, and attentive at camp.

This can also be a fun time to create some camp traditions – camp counselors can wake up their campers with energetic music (you can either play music or even sing a song – we are sure that something like boom chicka boom will wake anyone up!), fun wake-up calls, or even the infamous polar bear swim!

Your cabin

8:00 – 8:30 AM

Morning Devotions / Chapel

The official beginning of the camp day. Each morning before (or after) breakfast, this is a time to gather campers, counselors and staff to sing camp songs, tell stories, and tell devotions. It’s a good idea to have each chapel or devotional follow a theme. Ideally, the theme of chapel will relate to your overall camp theme. Some common chapel themes that can fit with any session theme include: friendship, individuality, relationship with God (if a Christian camp), service, forgiveness, and teamwork.

This is a great time to establish some group guidelines for the day. Maybe it’s, “today’s the day to make a new friend at camp”. Or, “today’s the day to think about our environment – see how many pieces of trash you can pick up throughout the camp as you walk around to activities”. Give campers some food for thought and action items for them to carry with them during the day.

Chapel / Campfire

8:30 – 9:00 AM


Meal time! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You want to make sure that your campers feel nourished and ready for the day ahead of them. Breakfast is also a super fun time to have a theme – maybe pajama breakfast? Everyone shows up in their pajamas and you can have a contest of the best PJs! Or maybe one day you do dinner for breakfast – spaghetti and meatballs, anyone? Also feel free to sing some camp songs to wake up the campers (jigalow, anyone?).

Breakfast is also a great time to meet. Gather your camp counselors and camp staff for a few minutes to go over the logistics for the day. This can also be done after breakfast.

Dining Hall / Mess Hall

9:00 – 9:45 AM

Camp Counselor / Staff Meeting

Perfect part of the day to gather all the camp counselors and staff (though make sure someone’s looking out for the campers!) and go over the schedule for the day. What activities are we doing today, what meals are we having for lunch and dinner, are there any issues going on around camp that we need to discuss (e.g., homesickness, campers fighting, etc.), or what is everyone planning for campfire (e.g., who’s singing boom chicka boom, who’s performing jigalow, etc.).

Staff Center / Lounge

10:00 – 10:45 AM

Activity 1

The first official activity period of the day! Some camps have an “open” activity period, in which campers can pick and choose which activities they go to throughout the day. Some camps will have an organized, pre-assigned schedule to make sure every cabin group gets through each activity at least once. Whichever method your camp uses, just make sure your camp counselors know where to go and when! Every camp also has different activities, but here are some common summer camp activities.

  • Archery
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Canoeing
  • Cooking
  • Dance
  • Drama / Acting
  • Fencing
  • Fishing
  • Fort Building
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Bikes
  • Music
  • Paddleboarding
  • Rock Climbing
  • Ropes Courses (low, mid, high)
  • Science
  • Survival Skills
  • Swimming (pool)
  • Swimming (lake)
  • Tubing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Yoga

Depends on Activity

11:00 – 11:45 AM

Activity 2

Second activity period of the day – see list of activities above!

Depends on Activity

12:00 – 12:45 PM


A break through the day, and probably one of the craziest parts of the day! Lunch is a great time to gather all the cabin groups together after they have spent the first half of the day doing various activities. Whether a camper was tubing at the lake or starting a lanyard in arts and crafts, we can pretty much guarantee they will be hungry for lunch!

Lunch is also one of our favorite times of the day to get ROWDY. Encourage cabin groups to join in camp song – maybe boom chick boom sweeps across the dining hall floor? Or a cabin group spontaneously bursts out into jigalow and calls on another cabin group to play along? Or maybe we have song competitions that divide the camp, like “girls, girls, girls! / boys, boys, boys” or even inter-cabin feuds, “there ain’t no flies on us, there ain’t no flies on us, there might be flies on cabin 4, but there ain’t no flies on us!”.

You can also add a theme to lunch. Maybe the theme is birthday lunch, and instead of campers sitting with their fellow cabin mates, they sit at a table with other campers who share their birthday.

Dining Hall / Mess Hall

1:00 – 1:45 PM

Rest Hour

Food coma from lunch? Everyone take 5, head back to your cabins, and close your eyes for a bit!

Your Cabin

2:00 – 3:00 PM

Activity 3

Third activity period of the day – see list of activities above!

Depends on Activity

3:00 – 4:00 PM

Activity 4

Fourth activity period of the day – see list of activities above!

Depends on Activity

4:00 – 5:00 PM

Activity 5

Fifth activity period of the day – see list of activities above!

Depends on Activity

5:15 – 6:00 PM


Last meal of the day! This is perfect for family-style meals – everyone is gathered in the mess hall together, sharing laughs and stories of what happened that day, and relaxing for the evening ahead.

Dining Hall / Mess Hall

6:30 – 7:30 PM

Twilight / Early Evening Activity

As the weather starts to cool down and the intensity of the sun begins to wane, gather your entire camp group for an outdoor activity – like a summer evening in the neighborhood! This could be a game of kickball, a camp-wide scavenger hunt, capture the flag, or just a massive game of tag!

Flag Pole / Campfire / Your Camp’s Meeting Area

7:45 – 9:45 PM


Ah, the most magical time of the day. What makes this time so special – is it the sound of the crackling fire? The smell of the smoky wood logs or the roasting marshmallows? Or the sight of the night sky and the booming stars surrounding you for all eternity? Whatever it is, it’s home. It’s what makes camp, camp.

Campfire is a special time of the day for everyone to gather, tell stories, sing songs, and enact skits. We laugh together, cry together, and sing together. It’s simultaneously an energetic part of the day and a wind-down to the day. You can spend the first hour, hour-and-a-half with a “loud” campfire. This includes skits (we love the bus skit and the invisible bench skit!), and loud songs (we can’t get enough of jigalow and hey burrito!). Then, you can wind down into the “quiet” time of campfire. You can even turn off the lights for this part – great way to see the night stars shine even brighter. Lights off also encourages that shy camper to get on stage – no one can really see them, after all!


9:30 – 10:00 PM

Devotions / Get Ready for Bed

Time for bed! Campers should get their pajamas on, brush their teeth, etc. Once every camper in your cabin is ready for bed, it’s time to start night time devotions. Camp devotions are a quiet, thoughtful time at the end of day for campers to reflect. It is a great time to recap the events of the day, discuss the theme of the day, and share personal challenges or highlights. Devotions help bring everyone together. If you have two campers who do not get along well during the day, you might be surprised at how they connect during devotions! Campers can share their innermost feelings and thoughts, and staff leaders/counselors can facilitate discussion, share wisdom, and bring the group together.

Your Cabin

10:00 PM

Lights Out! 

This can depend on the camper’s age – but it’s a great idea to have an official ‘end’ to the day!

Your Cabin

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