A couple of months ago I wrote a post giving a basic overview of our girls camp certification program last year – a certification fair. I’ve already shared two of our stations – roll a first aid kit and candy fires, and today I’m going to share more details about exactly how we ran our certification fair. If you’re looking for activity ideas, here are all of the stations/activities that we did for certification.
Girls Camp Certification Fair Organization
Let me preface this by saying that everything below is how we envisioned our certification fair to work. It rained the day we were scheduled to do our certification fair and because we didn’t have a backup plan (not recommended), we ended up doing our certification fair inside our mess hall (not recommended). This is much better if you can make it work outside and setup all of the booths. If you have to pare it down to make it fit inside, I recommend doing what we did and split the girls between certification booths another activity, then rotate.
Girls Camp Certification Fair Setup & Preparation
Location & Booth Placement
You’re going to need a large space, and I recommend doing it outdoors if at all possible. You could also do a combination of indoor/outdoor if you’re doing it say at a church building and want to do some activities inside and others outside.
I recommend setting it up so that the booths are organized by certification level. All 1st level activities on one side, 2nd levels on the next side, etc. There are a handful of booths that we did that covered a number of levels; just pick a place for each of those and make sure the girls are aware. Organizing by level will allow your girls to go to one section and complete those activities before moving on to optional activities in another section.
When selecting your booths and activities, make sure to include enough certifications from each level to keep the girls busy. Because of our rainout, we ended up with only like two activities for the 4th years, and they ended up just wandering around because they finished their certification too quickly. You want the number of activities for everyone to be pretty close to even if possible.
For each booth, we had a printable sign that included a country, the name of the activity, and the certification levels that needed to pass off that certification. In addition to the printable sign, we had leaders and YCLs (the 16-18 year old girls) sign-up to be in charge of each booth. Make sure you think about how many people you’ll need to run each booth and have people sign up accordingly, rather than having say 2 YCLs and 1 adult at each. Some booths are much easier to manage than others.
BEFORE CAMP, make sure that the leaders and YCLs are familiar with the booth they are organizing, the information (so they’re not just reading from a piece of paper), and how things will work. This allows things to move quicker since the leaders aren’t trying to learn things as they go as well. This is especially important for things like the licorice knot tying because the leaders need a chance to make sure they know how to tie the knots as well.
Certification Fair Passports and Stamps
Before camp, we made little certification passports (like these ones) and purchased these certification passport stickers for the girls to use, so each time they completed a certification the leader gave them a certification sticker to put into their passport. While this seems like a REALLY fun idea, it was probably the most annoying part of the entire certification fair. And the girls just didn’t care about it at all because the stickers were hard to get in, there was no incentive for finishing it, etc.
Here are my suggestions for doing this in a way that will make it fun and manageable for the girls.
Skip the individual certification stickers. We did these and they were cute but every time we made a change to the name of something or the certification, the stickers no longer matched. We also had to print, cut, and sort every single one. It ended up being a waste of time. Instead of stickers, buy these cheap stamps and give every booth a stamp and stamp pad to use during the event.
Give the girls customized passports by certification level. Give the 1st year girls passports that start with their required certifications with some sort of note indicating where the required ones end and the optional ones start. Do the same for the 2nd years – a passport that starts with required 2nd year certification and then moves into other optional activities.
Or skip the passports altogether and give the girls passport bingo cards. I’ve created free printable certification bingo cards here that they have to get stamps on each space and then turn the card in. This is something they would need to do throughout the week (not just at certification fair) and keep track of, so just be aware of that.
Have girls write their names on their passports. Or better yet, write all of the names on them beforehand and pass out a bag of passports to each level or to each cabin (depending on how many girls you have), so you know everyone got one and when they inevitably get lost, you’ll be able to figure out who it belongs to.
Have an incentive for getting stamps for each of their required certifications. Just the required ones though because you’re likely not going to have time for everyone to do all of the optional ones as well. It can be something simple like a bag of candy or maybe a cute treat and handout that goes along with your theme, but I’d recommend not telling the girls ahead of time what they’re getting because surprises tend to incentivize better. Another fun idea would be to do what they do at SNAP conference and have the girls turn in their cards (if you use the printable bingo card), and during camp pick out some cards at random and give the girls a simple prize like being the first one to eat, getting extra free time to shower, etc.
These thank you notes for the YCLs or leaders who helped out with camp would be fun too!
During the Girls Camp Certification Fair
As I mentioned before, start the 1st level girls in the 1st level section and so on. If you have too many girls, I’d recommend having half of them play games or do another activity like these minute to win its games and then rotate after a certain amount of time.
At each booth, make sure that girls are listening to instruction and completing the activity then getting their stamp before moving on. We said that if girls showed up to a booth in the middle of something, they needed to wait until the next round of instruction to participate so that they weren’t just doing the activity and missing out on the actual learning.
Once they’ve finished all of their required activities, they should spend the remaining time doing optional activities and getting stamps. Once the certification fair time is up, they can show their completed passports to leaders to receive their completion certificate or handout.
Since you’ll be outside in the middle of the summer, make sure to have plenty of water and beverages on hand. You don’t want the girls having to learn about dehydration from firsthand experience.
And that’s it, that’s how we ran our certification fair. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t quite as fun as our certification Olympics the year before but still a blast and more fun than just sitting around listening to someone talk. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me.