Make a good case. Be prepared to sell your camp to participants, sponsors, volunteers, and donors through blogs, press releases, logos on t-shirts, promotional videos, and sponsor pages such as this one from GRTC 2015. If you want to continue holding camps in the future then you need to put in the work now to secure interest and funding.
Front-load your preparation. The day-to-day operations of a girls’ technology camp were often overwhelming. Having spent months planning (and in our minds sometimes over-planning) really helped those busy camp days stay manageable. Lock down as many details as possible regarding curriculum, timeline, housing assignments, and required paperwork before your project begins.
Track your money. Many of us with writing expertise view numbers as the enemy, but they are a big part of running a successful a camp. Find a partner, perhaps your department administrative assistant or someone in the university finance office, to help you set up structures for money monitoring and stick to the plan you develop.
Find the balance with volunteers. Volunteers need a reason to participate and while your enthusiasm and praise is one big motivator, remember too that in order for your camp to run smoothly volunteers need to show up. Making volunteers feel both energized and accountable is a tough balance to strike, but it's extremely important. Create a sense of agency within volunteers by involving them in all stages of the camp -- from initial planning to leading activities to helping with the closing ceremony. Remember: personal Investment is key.
Work with kids differently than college kids. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the differences are sometimes unexpected. While younger kids typically require shorter activities and longer breaks, they also are more willing to share their ideas and work as well as to relish opportunities to experiment. Make sure you provide ample "free" time for participants to have fun exploring writing, technologies, and digital spaces on their own.
Embrace mess and a little chaos. You've planned every hour of every day of camp, but one afternoon the Internet is down. Or, you have your sponsors, volunteers, and campers coordinated, but someone's mom is running late and your activity leader forgot to show up. Things like this can -- and likely will -- happen, so just be prepared to go with the flow as much as possible. Unless the chaos is life threatening, there's no harm in being flexible and changing plans as you go.
Expect fatigue. Keeping up with campers and maintaining your composure during those messy times is extremely tiring. You're so focused on making sure your campers and volunteers are taken care of that it's easy to forget to take care of yourself. Try your best to get sleep each night, to eat meals and snacks, and most importantly, to drink water throughout the day. Although at the end of camp you'll likely still need to sleep for two days straight.
Prepare to be under-appreciated. You will pour months and countless hours into your community engagement project -- not to mention careful research and disciplinary expertise -- but some colleagues, administrators, and publishers of scholarship may persist in seeing your work as somehow extra or “simply service.” When you face such moments, remember how much learning, growth, and fun took place during your project. This is why we do the work we do.