"Structure" is something we believe in very strongly at Camp Starfish, because we know children thrive on it! They need routines to help them feel safe in a stable, predictable environment. Plus, our campers learn through repetition. When the campers know what to expect, then they know what to do, and then they can do the right thing and enjoy success. Anxieties are minimized, and so are the resulting behaviors.
Although activities change from day to day, campers know that, for example, "swimming is always after 2nd activity" and the time that each activity starts and ends is the same each day. Transitions between places are forecasted multiple times - partway through the activity, again 10 minutes before clean-up, two minutes before clean-up, etc. Even though campers don't wear watches, this consistency helps considerably to calm anxiety and hyperactivity.
While campers feel supported and comforted by the structure, it is very intentionally integrated into our program such that camp still feels very much like "camp." Our basic structure is adjusted for each gender, age and camper group appropriately. Your child's counselors, supervised closely by administrators, will have an active role in setting the structure for their group. For example, while groups generally walk in a line together, a day camp group of five year olds might play red light green light to get to the next place or turn their line into a train and give each person a role (caboose, conductor, etc.), while a group of older campers may talk individually with counselors or chat with friends about the upcoming activity.
Outside activity areas, like Arts and Crafts, staff have a set structure to introduce the day's activity to each group. For our younger campers, they will lead a song, tell campers about the project of the day then "check for understanding" by asking each camper in turn to repeat an instruction they've just been given before they head inside to start. With older campers, they may ask for volunteers to remind everyone of the expectations instead. Other examples of structure include the way we open waterfront activities (campers line up with their swim counselor after sharing one of the rules they remember with the group), or how we sit camper-counselor-camper-counselor around the lunch table so everyone can be included in the conversation and have a helping hand nearby.
Structures are reviewed daily by group counselors and cabin staff, as well as by leadership staff, to ensure that they are continuously meeting the needs of the campers, and adjusted accordingly.