Art Education . 7 mins

Secrets to Running a Successful Art Camp

Tamara Clary

March 27, 2024

Summer is upon us, and what better way to embrace it than diving into the colorful world of art camp? For nearly two decades, I’ve been at the helm of these creative voyages, discovering secrets along the way that could help anyone—yes, anyone—host an unforgettable art camp. Whether you’re looking to fill the summer days with vibrant activities for the kids in your neighborhood, planning the season’s agenda for your church’s youth, or heading up a local community group, art camp is a magical solution that leaves lasting memories. And how do I know? Well, long before the summer breeze sets in, I’m already fielding eager inquiries: “When is art camp happening this summer?” It’s a testament to the unforgettable experiences and joy these camps bring. Join me as I unveil my top 7 insider tips to making your art camp not just a success, but the highlight of the summer. Ready to create some unforgettable summer magic? Let’s dive in!

Plan Ahead

Timing is everything when it comes to preparing for an unforgettable art camp. I recommend setting the stage early by opening online registrations in the fall, ideally between October and November. This early notice gives parents the chance to schedule your camp into their summer plans, taking advantage of holiday gift cards, securing early bird discounts, and coordinating their vacation time. Using efficient tools like Mailchimp, Zoho, or SendGrid can simplify the process, ensuring details reach your eager families in just a few clicks. I use ActivityHub platform “Share link” feature to make this easy for clicking in the email and landing in the purchase page to get their bookings done.

Why this early? Because proactive planning is key — families often look months ahead to fill their children’s summer with enriching and exciting activities. So, mark your calendars, and let’s get planning for a summer filled with creativity and fun!

Offer Money Saving Tool

Everyone loves to save, and with art camp, it’s no different. That’s why we’ve curated a suite of money-saving tools designed to help families plan without the financial strain.

Gift Cards: A versatile option for any holiday gift list, our digital gift cards from ActivityHub are available year-round. They’re perfect for parents, grandparents, or family friends wanting to give the gift of creativity. Plus, they never expire — a little peace of mind that goes a long way.

Bank Days/Store Credit: Prepay for camp days with our Bank Days or Store Credit options. Purchase camp days in advance, then use them flexibly throughout the summer. Our ActivityHub platform tracks usage, so our families always know their balance — a smart way to budget and plan.

Early Registration Discounts: Get ahead of the summer rush with early registration discounts available at the start of the year. These discounts aren’t just about saving money; they’re about securing your spot for a summer filled with artistic adventure

By offering these financial tools during the fall and winter, we aim to help families spread out expenses, avoiding the dreaded hefty credit card bill when summer rolls around. Plan smart, save big, and look forward to a summer where the only thing growing faster than your savings is your child’s imagination.

Get Art Camp Support

Managing a successful art camp is a group effort, especially as the number of little artists grows. Whether you have a camp full of diverse ages or a specialized group with unique needs, having extra hands on deck is essential. Here’s how to build a support team that turns your art camp into a smoothly running creative workshop:

Recruit Creative Coaches: Invite art students, local artists, or educators to assist. They bring expertise and enthusiasm that can inspire the campers.

Responsibilities Roster: Assign specific roles to your helpers, such as setup supervisor, materials manager, or snack coordinator. A clear division of tasks keeps the camp running without hitches.

Rotating Roles: Allow helpers to rotate through different roles. This keeps them engaged and gives them a well-rounded experience, which is particularly beneficial for teenagers considering careers in education or art.

Feedback Forums: Hold brief daily meetings with your support team to discuss what’s working and what’s not, allowing for real-time adjustments and continuous improvement.

By building a support team, you’re not just easing your workload; you’re enhancing the camp experience for everyone involved. Helpers can provide individualized attention to campers, manage logistics, and bring fresh ideas and perspectives that enrich the creative environment of your art camp.”

Make Art Projects Adjustable

Crafting art projects that cater to a range of ages and abilities is key to an inclusive and successful art camp. When planning, think in layers: start with a simple base that younger or less experienced campers can enjoy, then add optional complexities for older or more adept artists. Here’s how to ensure your projects have the flexibility to inspire every camper:

Step-by-Step Success: Design each project with graduated steps. Early steps should result in a complete piece for younger kids, while older campers can continue adding details and techniques.

Customizable Components: Offer a variety of materials and encourage campers to select based on their interest and skill level. This not only personalizes their art but also allows for self-paced learning.

Skill Stations: Set up areas where campers can learn and practice specific techniques at their own speed before applying them to their projects.

Peer Partners: Pair up older and younger campers or siblings. This promotes leadership and collaboration, as older campers can assist younger ones, fostering a sense of community.

Individual Attention: Art is a personal journey, and a little individual guidance can make all the difference. Dedicating time for one-on-one interactions is particularly impactful for younger participants who might find certain steps challenging.  Build brief one-on-one check-ins into your daily camp schedule. This ensures that each camper receives personal attention without overwhelming you or disrupting the flow of the camp. When you sit down with a camper, emphasize the joy and exploration in art rather than perfection. Tailor your guidance to make the process enjoyable and accessible.

Encouragement Spots: Create a system where campers can signal when they’d like some extra help. This could be as simple as placing a help card on their table, allowing you to efficiently manage where you’re needed most.

Remember, the goal is not to have everyone create identical pieces, but to ensure each camper feels proud of their creation. By building adjustability into your projects, you empower children to express their creativity, ensure they aren’t overwhelmed, and provide them with a sense of accomplishment, regardless of their age or skill level.

Budget & Shopping For Art Supplies

Don’t get caught up in the final product of each project. Kids have been rushed around all year-long in school and really need down time to play, explore, discover, and make new friends. Don’t take it seriously that you need to be teaching crazy art skills or projects. Kids should have memorable fun art camp experiences, not complex ones. Play games, and do fun bonding collaborative art making projects. Have kids plan to create something they can give their parents the last day of camp, this planning can start earlier in the week.

Make Art Camp Fun

It’s a good idea to plan out projects for next 3 to 6 months ahead of time. This will give you a good idea of what you’ll need, and help you budget out each project cost. Take a stroll around your local craft stores to get some ideas, inspiration, and get a better price on art supplies.

If you have questions on this topic, feel free to reach: