As much as we love camp, it’s always fun to take a day away for an outing. One of the most hotly-anticipated traditions of the summer is one of the trips we’ve been doing longest: our annual day trip to Hershey Park!
Located a few hours south of camp in Amish country, Hershey is a popular trip for a lot of reasons. Thrill-seeking campers love the roller coasters, but there’s a wide variety of tamer rides for girls who like a little less adrenaline (the classic carousel is always a favorite), and plenty to do for those who don’t love rides, like shows and games.
Oh, and of course, there’s the chocolate.
Our trip to Hershey Park always ends with a tour through Chocolate World, where campers learn how the famous chocolate bars are made – and where they get to shop for tasty Hershey goodies! This year we were fortunate to have sunny, cool weather on Hershey Park day. It was the perfect way to enjoy the park, and the long day flew by.
For campers, trip days are exciting breaks from the daily camp schedule. Staff enjoy trip days, too – but they’re definitely not days off. It’s important to us that no matter where we take our campers, they’re just as safe as they are on campus. On trip days, this means we add extra layers of organization to ensure our camp outings are safe and enjoyable. Since we can’t bring Hershey Park to Bryn Mawr, we bring our camp structure to Hershey Park!
Planning for a day trip begins long before the buses roll onto campus. Staff members are assigned to buses and trip roles to ensure a strong leadership presence every step of the way. Counselors are thoroughly coached on trip procedures and policies, and we ensure that every staff member understands the important role he or she plays in making trip day a safe and smoothly-run experience.
At the theme park, we use time-tested strategies to ensure campers are safe at all times. Dan and assistant director Bill Widman personally supervise the Hershey Park trip. We begin the day by establishing a home base where campers and staff know they can always find Dan, Bill and a nurse, and we make sure every camper and counselor knows how to find her way back to that spot. No camper is ever permitted to wander alone. Extra counselors are assigned to younger bunks to provide additional supervision and flexibility (for example, if four campers want to ride the Ferris wheel and four campers want to watch a show, there’s plenty of staff supervision to allow everyone to do what they want). Each age group has assigned check-in times throughout the course of the day, and the times are strictly enforced so we know everyone is accounted for. And members of our senior staff wearing trusty gold baseball caps make up the famous Bryn Mawr “Yellow Hat Squad.” Stationed throughout the park, they’re on hand to provide extra support to campers and counselors, make sure policies are being followed, and ensure camper safety at all times. We also take steps on the buses and in the park to ensure campers with food allergies and other considerations are able to enjoy the day safely.
Over the years, trip day has come to function like a well-oiled machine, and we often hear compliments from park staff about how pleasant and well-behaved our campers are. Most importantly, campers are able to enjoy Hershey Park and other day trips while feeling just as secure as they feel at camp. All the planning and organization pays off when we see the huge smiles on their faces as they walk through the park gates at the end of the day, still excited about all the fun they’ve had.