8 Tricks to Add Excitement and Wonder to Your Virtual Camp

May 19, 2020
Kids dressed up as a magician

Magicians specialize in making the impossible, possible. They look at the world differently with a focus on solving problems in a fun and unique way. Their ability to unlock the imagination helps create lifelong memories in any situation.

We asked the top presenters of the Discover Magic program to share some of their favorite "tricks" to help engage kids online and make virtual programming even more exciting and filled with wonder. Here are eight amazing tips that you will definitely want up your sleeve as you plan your virtual programming this year.


1. Supply Scavenger Hunt

Look for ways to make the ordinary extraordinary! An activity that requires kids to bring scissors and tape could be made into a scavenger hunt. For extra fun, add a few random items to the list to be used as a fun show-and-tell. Even better, give the kids an activity they can do with those items off-screen later.

2. Individually Wrap Daily Activities

When sending supplies to campers, individually package different activities in their own envelopes or bags. Not only does this keep kids from losing supplies or getting ahead of you, it also adds an element of suspense. Put a special seal on it and make a fun moment of opening them together! After all, who doesn't love opening a gift or a top-secret envelope?!

3. Set the Stage

A stage is designed to focus an audience's attention. Think of the computer screen as a stage. Be aware of your lighting, framing, background, and the camera height. Make sure your camera is at eye level. Try putting your laptop on a shoebox to get it to the right height. We've found that standing during your presentation may improve your mood and energy levels.

Keep the main action center stage. Stay in frame, but don't stay stationary. Occasionally leaning into the camera will help keep the attention on you. Keep items you need close by in your "Stage Wings." You might even put masking tape down on a table in front of you that marks when things are on screen or off.

4. Have a Bag of Tricks

Every good magician has a bag of tried-and-true tricks they can pull from when the need arises. Some activities may take less time than expected. Having a repertoire of proven go-to "tricks" will help give you the confidence to handle the unexpected. Make a list of backup games, stories, jokes, or other activities that you know the kids will love. One favorite impromptu time filler is the classic game of "I Spy" while in "gallery view."

5. Hold Up Signs

It is tempting to do a "screen share" to show an image or a quote, but it's more fun if you print those items out and physically hold them up to the camera. This allows for more face time, comedy, and byplay, and makes the experience feel more authentic.

Consider printing out the icons for camp orientation, like how to mute and unmute. Avoid glossy paper or lamination because it will create a glare on the screen.

Finding other creative ways to display visual aids will help keep your hands free to be more expressive. Try using table number holders, easels, or make something of your own.

6. Add Sound Effects

If you don't think sound effects are funny, just ask Walt Disney. A simple "WA WA WA WAAA" after you make a mistake or a victorious fanfare when someone answers a question correctly adds depth to the experience. Adding sounds to your presentation can be as easy as downloading a simple soundboard or music cue app on your phone or tablet.

Timing is everything so have your phone nearby for when the moment is right!  Make sure your volume is all the way up or better yet, connect it to a Bluetooth speaker.

7.  Record Yourself

Historically, magicians have practiced with a mirror to see what the audience would see (not as easy as it sounds).  Now it is easier than ever to record yourself and see exactly what your audience sees. There is no better way to improve your presentation than to watch it. 

Record the gallery view to directly observe what worked and what didn't based on facial expressions. Take notes of how to improve, then implement those changes in your next session.

8. Increase Your Interactions Per Minute

Comedians count laughs per minute but magicians count interactions per minute. A good magician will ask audience members to examine items, give suggestions, or even make the magic happen by wiggling fingers to keep everyone engaged.

Use kids' names, have them give a thumbs up, and ask questions (really listen to their answers). Take time to acknowledge your audience. Do not be afraid to "go off script" to react to something that's happening in real time.

Whatever you do, have fun! If you find something humorous, go ahead and laugh out loud! Chances are your kids will too. Enthusiasm, smiles, and laughter are all contagious. Time really does fly when you're having fun!

To learn more about the Discover Magic curriculum or to find a licensed instructor that can help you with your camp this summer, both in person and virtually, visit: DiscoverMagic.com.


ACA was not involved in the creation of this content and does not imply an endorsement of products/services.