SuperCamp is a 10 day academic and life skills program that happens throughout the summer for various ages. I worked mostly with the high school students. As you’d expect, no high school student wants to spend 10 days of their summer learning about speed reading, memory tricks, and positive thinking. Most would much rather be playing video games. Parents, knowing this, sometimes would trick their kids into going by saying they’ll be skating or video game playing.
On the first day, out of 100 students, there’d usually be one or two who’d have their skateboard in hand, looking around for the ramps. But instead of ramps, the walls were covered with positive affirmations and academic stuff. To which the students reacted with annoyance and anger. It was right about that time when I, one of the program facilitators, would step on stage in front of the mob and express my excitement for all the academic learning we’d be doing over the next ten LONG days. You can imagine the reaction.
We knew there was no way we’d be able to teach the students anything without first building a relationship with them and between each other. That’s what we did for the first few days. Then slowly, around the third and fourth days, we started to integrate more learning into the daily flow.
By the eighth and ninth days almost all the students loved the program and didn’t want to go home. But the tenth day was graduation in which the parents showed up to take them home. While two of the facilitators talked to just the parents in our main room, the other two facilitators took the students to a grassy court yard to play some games.
While hanging out with the students in the court yard, a traditional final game we’d play was called “Scream and Run” in which three students would start off by running and screaming across the yard and back again to the start line. No one was allowed to say what the game was unless someone came over and asked, to which we’d reply “it’s called Scream and Run. Do you wanna play?” They always did. Then a slightly larger group would run across the court yard screaming and running and again a few more students would come over to ask and eventually join in. After eight rounds of playing, usually all 100 students were standing in the corner waiting for a facilitator to yell go so they could run and scream across the court yard.
Every time I saw this game unfold, all I could think was how this was the stupidest game EVER. All they were doing was running and screaming. That’s it. I probably could have told them to scream and tie your shoe and they would have had fun. Or scream and clean the building with a toothbrush and they would have had fun. What I realized in that moment was that ANYTHING IS FUN as long as you have two things…
High Numbers, Low Relationships
On the whole, hardly anyone knows each other at this event, but because there are such high numbers, the event works despite the fact that there aren’t very many relationships.
Low Numbers, High Relationships
Admit it. When you and your friends get together, you do the dumbest stuff. So dumb that any outsider would question your sanity, but because you are doing the event with your friends, you have a good time. In this situation, the numbers are low, but the relationships are high.
High Numbers, High Relationships
The ideal situation for an event is one in which the numbers are hugh and the relationships are high. Family reunions (assuming you enjoy seeing your family) are a good example of this. There are a lot of people, and everyone knows each other. In this situation you could do just about any activity and it would be fun.
Low Numbers, Low Relationships
This is the typical flop event that far too many of us have either been to, or hosted, in which the turn out is low and the few people who do attend don’t know each other. In this situation the best option you have, to turn the event around, is to build up as many relationships as possible with the attendees so that it turns into a low numbers, high relationships type event.
In order to have a fun/engaging event you either need high numbers, high relationships, or both. But not all events will work with each situation. Scream and Run wouldn’t have worked on day one of Supercamp even though we had high numbers, but other activities did work on day one because we had high numbers. Scream and Run needed both high numbers and high relationships to be successful. As you plan your calendar of events, think about what type of event you are trying to create and what formula from above you need to make it successful. Then go and make that happen to set yourself up for success.