Category Archives: business

Start the Camp 3. Let’s Talk $$


So this will be a fun one to write.  (;

Why is talking about money so weird anyway?  For some reason it’s always been really uncomfortable for me to talk about the money side of my camps, at least with my friends.  Other people have jobs though, and if you’re going to offer a service, then there’s nothing unusual about you getting paid for it.  Maybe it seems weird to me because as an entrepreneur I decide how much I get paid?  I don’t know why it feels weird.  Maybe I’m just weird.


The costs that go into a camp can be broken into two parts: supply costs and camp costs.  Supplies is simple: budget for anything that you have to buy to run the activities (paint, for example), to have on hand (like extra paper towels), or to market the camp (if you need to print flyers maybe).   Some of it will depend on how many campers come, and you don’t know how many campers will come.  You’ll need to make a bunch of estimates and round up, then add some buffer after that.  If you have supply money leftover, great, but it would be horrible to run out! List the supplies you’ll need for sure, and pick a few projects you might do and do research online to see how much things might cost.  Try to come up with a ballpark and average it out per camper.  For Creative Chicks, my arts and crafts camp, I did $30 per camper, but it will really depend on the type of camp and how many activities!  If you are really stuck, then you can try to research supply fees for other camps in your area.

summer camp story (3)

So many supplies to budget for

Then add the camp fees: paying for labor.   How much do you want to be paid per hour?  Don’t underestimate how much to pay yourself, because you are putting in a bunch of planning hours before the camp actually starts. Are you currently planning on hiring helpers?  If you are, make an estimate on how much you’ll pay them, and then make sure to include that.

  1. What is the fewest number of campers, worst case scenario, that you would still hold camp with?  Having a minimum number will protect you from losing money.  For me, it’s usually 6 girls.
  2. Add how much you want to get paid total to the amount you estimate you’ll pay your helpers.
  3. Divide that amount by the minimum number of girls = tentative camp fees

It’s a balance between finding how much you want to be paid per hour verses what parents are actually willing to pay based on how they value your camp though.  If you are teaching a skill, the value of your camp will be higher.  I could charge more for sewing camps because so much of the camp was spent on instruction and creating actual projects.  In comparison, craft camps are fun, but a portion of the day is just having fun playing games or making “fun” projects.


Once you’ve figured everything out, add your supply fee to camp fee and you get the amount you could charge for camp.  Research other camps to see if this number is unrealistically high/low.  You could also ask a few parents what they would pay for a camp similar to yours and see if your number is in the right range.

This isn’t a step by step process because so much of it depends on the circumstances.  I hope if you are thinking about running a camp that this will help you think through every aspect that goes into the price of camp tuition, but at the end of the day, you just have to pick a price.  If it doesn’t work, you can tweak it for next time!

As a high-schooler, landing on a price and figuring out how much to pay myself is the hardest part for me. My parents are both math people though and they helped a lot…but I’m sorry for the lack of the technical terms (revenue vs. income? sheesh.)  I’m still learning too. (:



start the camp

This is part of a group of posts about the ins and outs of running a camp. Ever wondered about a way to earn some money in the summer? You could teach something you love doing!  You can read the rest of the series here.


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Start the Camp 2. Ideas, Ideas, and More Ideas.

Hello, guys! Long time no see…or post, I guess. (:

Today I’m going to share about the next step in the camp planning process, which is getting ideas for the actual activities you’ll lead at the camp. Since it’s been a while, basically this series is a way for me to document how I plan camps, and show how it’s something anyone can do it really (maybe it’ll inspire you to start a camp! that would be awesome!).  The camp business I started, Creative Chicks, is mostly arts and crafts themed, so if you’re doing an adventure or sports camp it will obviously look a bit different. But I’ll share my three best tips for finding and organizing ideas in general, plus at the end of the post I’ll list a bunch of ideas I’ve at some point considered.


Tip #1.  Start a notebook.

Every time I find or think of a craft idea that I could imagine doing at Creative Chicks, I write it down in a spiral bound notebook.  I think keeping a physical running list is better than a pinterest board or a bunch of magazines with dog-eared pages because I can carry it anywhere and refer to it at a glance. So the very first thing I would do once you have your camp idea all figured out is write down any projects and activities you were thinking of doing.

Tip #2.  Exhaust your resources for ideas

The best idea resource will be past experience, for sure.  If you’ve ever done a class or known someone who has done a similar camp, write down every project you can remember from then. I got some of my best craft ideas from an every-other-week art class I took in seventh grade.  Also, you can look in magazines (depending on the age of your campers, I’ve found Family Fun to have a lot of good game and craft ideas).

Pinterest is also a useful tool, but be sure to evaluate your idea on whether it would be a fun thing to do in a camp setting, not just if the project itself looks cool.  For example, I saw a dream catcher project on pinterest that looked beautiful.  Unfortunately, it had a lot of involved steps and in practice turned out to be more frustrating for the campers because they had to wait for me to finish helping some girls before I could explain the next step. You can also probably find blogs that have tutorials with similar projects to what you want to do.

It’s really easy to overlook a simple project, but often those are the most fun.  At the same time, you don’t want to dumb it down for campers.  They can tell. (:

Tip #3.  Make the list broad, but keep in mind how many activities you will need.

Projects take much longer when done in a camp setting than normal.  It can’t be helped really: you have to take time to pass out supplies, explain how to do it, watch them do it, and help when there’s a problem (there will be), clean up a spill. My list probably has twenty to thirty crafts, but I only do two or three a day over 4 days.  So a lot will get cut eventually.  Around the time when I start advertising, I have one or two very strong ideas that I know will get on the schedule for sure, and the rest I start figuring out when I create the schedule.

Tip #4.  Do a survey if you aren’t sure if your ideas are good or not!

I give my giant list to my sisters, who are the average age of girls that come to my camp, and have them star the ideas that they would really want to do.  It’s really helpful!

2015-06-08 04.34.55

All right, if you happen to be running a camp including crafts, here, just for fun, is a list of the project ideas I came up with one year:

  1. God’s eyes
  2. Pom poms
  3. Sunflower weaving project
  4. Painting based off of a famous painting
  5. Collage
  6. Watercolor coffee filter butterflies
  7. Tissue paper flowers
  8. Concrete stepping stones
  9. Plaster sign (optional painting it)
  10. Plaster of Paris beetles
  11. Plaster masks
  12. Plastic wrap sculpture
  13. Newspaper fashion show
  14. Pastel drawing
  15. Drawing off of a live model/actual still life. Or self-portrait
  16. Homemade paper
  17. Leaf prints
  18. Tissue paper mosaic
  19. Nature collage
  20. Beading
  21. Pet rocks or nature sculpture
  22. Tie Dye
  23. Sew a simple skirt
  24. Sew an apron
  25. Sew a pillowcase
  26. Sew a drawstring purse
  27. Sew PJ/lounge pants
  28. Sew a headband
  29. Sew a wallet or mini purse
  30. Bake and decorate cupcakes
  31. Bake: brownies, pancakes, muffins, zucchini bread, fondue, homemade smoothie, popcorn balls
  32. Make a craft into a contest (design the best xyz)
  33. Duct tape wallets
  34. Magazine cut out collages
  35. Design a fairy house or diorama
  36. Pipe cleaner people
  37. Paper mache
  38. Yarny balloon bowl
  39. Rainbow tag game
  40. Do you love your neighbor game
  41. Pass the Parcel game
  42. The drama game
  43. Mini clay animal sculptures
  44. Embroidery friendship bracelets
  45. Design a poster
  46. Rock necklaces

As you can see, my camps are mostly crafts, but every day we sew and bake and play games too to mix it up a bit.

Happy brainstorming!

start the camp

This is the second post in a series I’m writing on the ins and outs of running a camp. Ever wondered about a way to earn some money in the summer? You could teach something you love doing!  You can read the rest of the posts in the series here.

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Start the Camp 1. Big Picture

start the camp

Say you really enjoy a certain skill or activity, and you want to share it with others.  You do it a few times, and realize that this is totally something that you could make some money from.  You’re idea is not any less than that of the arts school down the street, so why shouldn’t you be able to teach it too and add your own area of expertise?  This was my story.

I have a variety or creative pursuits, and so I decided to start an arts and crafts camp, and was excited to see that a lot of girls enjoy it.  So I did it the next year, and the year after that, and this year too, and have learned so much about running camps through the process.  The cool part though is that since starting my little enterprise, I’ve seen 3 friends start drama camps, another friend start a gymnastics camp, and my cousin held a ballet camp. Running camps is so doable, and I think that it could become a legitimate source of income for teens, just as much so as working fast food or something similar.

So here’s the start of this series!  I hope if you ever decide to try it (do it. do it. do it.), these posts will be helpful!

1. big picture

The very first step in planning a camp is, obviously, thinking of the camp you want to run. I suggest sitting down with a notebook in the first stages and writing ideas as you go.  That way, even if you don’t end up incorporating an aspect at first, you can go back later if you need more ideas.

What will camp look like?

What do you want to teach at the camp?  It’s a simple enough question, but an important one to nail down. Make sure that what you want to do is sort of unique and if it’s not, how can you make it different from all the other ballet camps out there? Maybe yours is for not-serious young girls who want to learn some basics, but their moms don’t want to investing in a pair of ballet shoes and a leotard. Or maybe your camp will teach all sorts of different styles of dance in one camp.  Or maybe your camp will have a really cool opportunity to perform what they did at the camp at somewhere on the last day (can you tell I’m not a ballerina).  With Creative Chicks, I wanted to teach a variety of crafts forms (painting, drawing, sewing, baking, and drama) and to do actual projects that would teach the beginnings of a skill.  Basically, I wanted to teach projects that were cool skills, as opposed to projects that were dumbed-down or easy to teach.  For now, just think in terms of broad categories instead of individual activities.

Where will the camp be?  The easiest answer is of course your house. It’s an easy place because it’s also where you live and will store all your craft supplies, and you don’t have to pay to use it.  I’ve also heard of some art schools hiring people to run their own camps at their location, or of creative writing camps held at a neighborhood pool, or of drama camps being held at a church.  It never hurts to ask the owners if a different place is more conducive to your camp!  And if their will be any sort of going “off campus” or “field trips”, it’s good to start thinking about logistics early.  For Creative Chicks, we’ve walked across the street to a park to do some nature craft projects and drove in vans to a fabric store so the girls could pick out their own fabric for the skirts we were sewing.

Who would your ideal camper be? Think about ages, interests, gender, etc.  For me it was elementary school girls who couldn’t get enough of creative projects. Do your campers need to know anything in advance before coming to the camp (how to read…how to operate a sewing machine…be potty trained if it’s a camp for really little kids!)? Start thinking if you know people in your niche.  You can either limit your camps to only allow certain ages, or you can keep it more open but focus your marketing (more on this later…. (:) on the specific age group.

Try to visualize a day at camp.  Figure out how many campers you would idealistically have, and then picture them doing some of the activities they are doing.  Do you do things in a large groups, or split into small groups for rotations at any point.  Will you have anyone else help to run the activities?  It’s okay to be very broad at this point, because you’re just brainstorming.  You can decide what exactly you want to do later.

painting is always a highlight.

Painting is always a highlight.

If you’re a teenager still, pitch your biz idea to your parents.

You’ll want them on board for this, and I found my mom to be so helpful in bouncing ideas off of and helping me work through some practical things. Especially if you want to hold a camp at your house, you should talk about what you’re doing before hand.  It’s better to know that you are in no way allowed to paint on dining room chairs before camp starts.  #beentheredonethat.

With all this in mind, start thinking/discussing what dates and times you’ll be having the camps. I’ve had one “overnight” sleepover camp for middle school girls once, and it was a completely different deal than day camps.  If you are starting out, I highly recommend doing a week long or four day camp.  I think those are the ones of the best value to parents, so you’ll earn the most money. For example, having a one day long from 9-5 camp is the exact same number of hours as having a camp from 10 am – 12 pm Monday through Thursday.  But moms will probably pay more for the week long camp, just because it seems like more instruction time.  I’ve tried it all, but a typical Creative Chicks session goes from Monday to Thursday and I have a 3 hour morning session and 3 hour afternoon session (same crafts morning and afternoons but different girls).  Another thing to start mulling over is how much you want to earn from this, and how much you think you could charge.  I’ll have a whole separate post on that, but it’s good to start thinking.

Get your name

This is SO hard for extremely indecisive people like me.  Maybe you have a knack for names and already have ideas, but if you are stuck you could try looking at similar camps’ names and see if you like them. Think of personal things you could use.  It may be as simple as “Lane’s Art Extravaganza” or “Periwinkle [a nickname of mine] Camps”. Start making a running list, even if you don’t like the names you come up with and think they’re completely stupid.  Think of as many event/class/camp/or even blog names as you can. What made you remember them. Was it somehow funny or ironic, cute, did it have alliteration (think Caddy’s Corner or Sewing Skirts with Sarah, if you’ll exuse the lameness of those examples). Or did the name just roll? See if you have any similar names on your list. And if you’re still stuck, ask others for ideas.  My mom came up with Creative Chicks!  At last though, you just have to pick it and stick with it.  In the long run a name will not affect your camp nearly as much as it seems. It’ll probably grow on you the more you use it anyway.

Walking to the park to do some nature crafts.   Doing different things through the week is fun.

Walking to the park to do nature crafts. Varying the kinds of projects through the week is fun. (:

Wowww, that was a long and really text heavy post!  I hope it’s not overwhelming.  These are all things to be mulling over when you say you want to run a camp, and if it’s the right idea, it should be fun to think about.  I start thinking of camps months before I even send out a flyer, so even though next summer is about as far away as it can get, it’s never to early to start planning.  Or you could think about having a short camp over Christmas or spring breaks!  So many ideas….

have a good weekend!

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Life, Currently: Photography derps, some Busyness, and Business

This post could have alternately been named “some random musings on what’s been happening around here, and some sneak peaks about new blog posts in the making” or “A Stream-of-Consciousness Look into Lane’s Life This Past Week”.

First, I’m going to confess that I had grand plans of sharing a sewing tutorial on Tuesday. and then today.  But school happened and I forgot that in order to write a tutorial you need some pictures. And in order to take pictures you need some light, and the only time of day when there’s enough light in the sewing room in the mornings. Otherwise you can get some really, really blurry pictures.


You’d think I would have remembered from when I was editing pictures for the headband tutorial… So note to self for next time, don’t wait until the afternoon to decide to write a sewing tutorial!  Oh well, I’m still learning this whole blogging deal.  I guess I can only improve from here!  Be expecting some of this in the near future.


This week, three more of my classes started.  Which was crazy on so many levels, but especially coming to the realization that I will be in some sort of class or volunteering for 9 hours on Thursdays.  Homeschooling is fun like that sometimes, but I actually do enjoy getting to be around people for classes. To de-stress yesterday, I found a little weekly calendar by hour and bubbled in every time slot where I’m in a class, studying, or in the car.  For some strange reason it was rather therapeutic, and I don’t consider myself an organized person.


I only have to add one more class, which starts next Monday and then I’ll be on my normal, full school schedule.  That class is an entrepreneur and economics class which I am so excited about (the entrepreneurship part, maybe not so much econ.)  I’m going to start sharing some of my tips on running a camp, mostly for me as a way to remember it, but also to show that normal people can definitely earn money on their own.  I love reading about people’s creative ventures.  If that’s your thing too, I read a really interesting thing called make29 that the enJoy it blog did last year.  Basically Elise made and sold all these different types of products to celebrate her 29th birthday and as a little experiment to see what sold the best.  It’s over now, but I am kind of an artsy business nerd so it was really fun to read about.  (:  Whether it’s selling something handmade at a craft fair, learning how to market your own products, or teaching something like an instrument or a craft, it’s so amazing that you’re sharing with others while simultaneously supporting yourself.


I’m so excited to gush some more about businessy stuff over the next few weeks and share how I did my camps, so I hope you’ll stick around!

In other randomness, thank you so much for the kind words (both online and in real life) on the teenager post from last week.  My friend wrote a similar post that is so true. You can check it out here.

Well, that’s it for now! have a great weekend!

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