Ropes Courses for All: Creating a universally accessible challenge program


by Teresa Nicodemus, American Camping Association

What day is it when hugs earn points and strange hats with funky costumes
are the norm? It’s Wacky Wednesday — a fun-filled day where everything
is topsy turvy, a bit bizarre, and very extraordinary.

Wacky Wednesday is a unique all-day programming event that encourages
relationship building between campers and staff and sparks friendly competition
between cabins. The day’s activities are designed to help campers earn
points toward services administered by counselors (e.g., backrubs, serving
cookies and milk, serving breakfast in bed, etc.), which are auctioned
at the end of the day according to the total amount of points earned by
cabin groups. Here’s how to start the wackiness at your camp.

Auction a Service

On Tuesday, ask counselors to list a service that they are willing to
do for a cabin group. The total number of services on this auction list
should equal the number of cabins to allow all campers to enjoy at least
one service. Tell counselors to turn the list in by evening meal.

Notify campers that the auction list will be in their mailboxes after
evening meal. Request that each cabin group rank the items on the list
according to their preference and turn in their rankings at breakfast
Wednesday morning. Tell campers a note will be in their mailboxes at the
end of the day on Wednesday, after total scores are tallied, informing
them what service they purchased with the points they earned. Auction
services will be awarded to cabins in preference order according to the
points earned; for example, the cabin earning the most points will enjoy
their first auction service choice.

Points for Play

Establish a point system for cabins to earn points for participating in
Wacky Wednesday activities. Points can be earned by individual campers
or by the entire cabin. The following are activity suggestions with possible
point values.

Wacky costume contest

A wacky costume contest can be held to start the day. At the morning gathering
or meal, judges critique the most unusual outfits, awarding 100 points
to the wackiest camper, cabin group, and cabin counselor.


Get your camp’s kitchen, administrative, and maintenance staff involved
and give them a chance to interact with campers even more. Dub them not
only as judges of Wacky Wednesday contests but as Hug-o-matics, too! In
Wacky Wednesday terms, a Hug-o-matic is a person wearing strange-looking
garb, a large, outlandish hat, carrying a clipboard, and roaming camp.

On cue (a dinner bell, gong, or horn that can be heard throughout camp)
campers have two minutes to find a Hug-o-matic to hug. Campers should
be instructed to stand in line at the Hug-o-matic in an orderly fashion
and give quick hugs! Campers are awarded one point per hug, which is recorded
by the Hug-o-matic.

Cabin tours

Instruct campers to decorate their cabins with a clever theme and then
schedule cabin tours. Let creativity flow. These cabin tours can be as
inventive as campers’ imaginations will allow. For example, cabins could
be arranged like campers’ homes, a "zoo," or campers can pretend
to be real estate agents selling their cabin. Judges tour cabins and evaluate
them for creativity, camper participation, use of everyday objects, and
being ready on time. The wackiest cabin is awarded 200 points.

Scoring and Awarding Auction Items

Develop score sheets for judges (impartial counselors, kitchen staff,
maintenance staff) to record points earned throughout the day. The program
director will record points earned on a master score sheet at the end
of the day for final judging. The cabin that gains the most total points
at the end of the day wins first pick of their chosen auction items. But,
the fun doesn’t stop there. Each cabin will enjoy at least one of their
chosen auction items (maybe not their first pick) according to the amount
of points earned by their cabin.

Depending on the type of auctioned service, counselors can pair up to
deliver services or do them individually. Counselors may not be able to
render their services immediately. Remind counselors to schedule a time
with the cabin group to administer their auctioned service.

With Hug-o-matics bringing automatic smiles, silly outfits causing outbursts
of laughter, cabin tours helping campers think creatively, and counselors
making campers feel special, you’ll soon begin to understand why wacky
is really wonderful on Wednesday at camp.


Originally published in the 2000 January/February
issue of Camping Magazine.