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As a Brit I've very little knowledge of American-style summer camps (none, in fact, beyond Addam's Family Values) however I'm attempting to help organise such an event this Summer.

I've been told that the only way to end a summer camp is with an award ceremony. Is this correct? Should parents/families be invited?

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    Not sure this is a great fit here. Americans love awards. Just make sure every camper gets something. – StrongBad Apr 26 '16 at 17:37
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    The current generation expects an awards ceremony following everything. Simply showing up for school gets them an award ceremony at the end of the year, so summer camp would be no exception. And make sure they all get an award no matter how much they don't deserve it. – Carey Gregory Apr 26 '16 at 23:36
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    @CareyGregory Thanks for your input, I'm awarding you a participation badge and of course one for myself for participating :) – AM_Hawk Apr 27 '16 at 1:04
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This is one of those "it depends" answers. Based on my experience growing up in-part in America, with other Americans, going to camp:

Size matters. Very big camps end up breaking people out in small groups, and the small groups (and entire large group) may not have award ceremonies.

Setting matters. Is this a day camp or a sleep-away camp? How long have campers attended? What age are campers? What activities do they do? How diverse are camper demographics?

These sorts of things shape the ceremony, including whether or not parents attend. In my experiences, parents are not invited during the ceremony - aside from maybe one specified visiting day and drop-off/pick-up day, and phone or mail contact as needed, parents let kids stay at camp on their own to gain some sense of independence there.


Ultimately I think we can make an educated guess that all summer camps end with a ceremony. The ritual or wrapping things up, providing closure with some reflection on past and a look to the future, is common for these sorts of things. It defines an ending point which is logistically and emotionally important.

Are these ceremonies all award ceremonies? To answer that question - definitely not. Award ceremonies can facilitate a closure ceremony, and add a fun dynamic to the reflection. Awards also give something for campers incentive to strive toward during their time at camp if they know it is coming. There are other ceremonies camps use to wrap things up however, and those as well as award ceremonies all differ from place to place (each camp developing its own unique style and subculture).

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    Agreed, "It depends". On the age of the participants, on the nature of the camp, on many things. If the participants are young and at least notionally learning something at camp then a ceremony attended by the parents on the last day where they can demonstrate what they've learned with prizes/awards for merit is probably expected. – Perry Apr 27 '16 at 0:39
  • Excellent, it's very useful to know there's no real guideline, so we can't necessarily get this wrong. Thank, cr0! – user9353 Apr 27 '16 at 15:09

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