My First Summer Camp: Where I Went Wrong

My First Summer Camp: Where I Went Wrong

Does the thought of running a summer camp fill you with dread? It does for me.

Thinking about a dozen kids all doing a dozen things at once stresses me out. My heart is starting to palpitate as I write this!

I used to make excuses. I’m an only child. My husband and I have just one child. I’m an introvert. I prefer one-on-one teaching and taking the time to focus on ONE student.

But every year, piano teachers start talking about summer camps as we get closer to summer.

A few years ago, I decided to go for it. I’ll be honest; it was difficult. But I did it, and you can, too! I will share my mistakes with you so you can learn from where I went wrong.

Table Of Contents:

  1. My Summer Camp Was Too Big
  2. I Created My Own Plan
  3. I Didn’t Take Pictures Of My Summer Camp
  4. Reflection

My Summer Camp Was Too Big

For that first summer camp, I went all out.

I packed 12 kids into my two-room studio.

Not only did I have a huge group, but they stayed a long time. I hosted five hours a day for a whole week.

What was I thinking?

I’ll give myself credit for being organized:

  • The kids were divided into two groups.
  • Each group had a teacher and rotated around.
  • I hired a helper.

But truthfully, there were still too many students for my first camp.

And it was definitely too long.

Do this instead

A better idea would have been to break that big camp into two smaller ones several weeks apart.

I should have started with six students for two or three hours.

That would have allowed me time to determine what worked and what didn’t.

Ultimately, it would have been the same number of kids for the same income but much less stress.

Related: How To Run A Summer Music Camp (plus free eMag download)

I Created My Own Plan

I thought planning a camp was easy.

All you do is teach a few piano songs and do some crafts. Right?


I really should have researched what was working for other teachers for my first camp.

Instead, I brainstormed what might work.

My camp had no theme and no real organization.

The piano choices were good, but I made the crafts way too complicated.

I got caught up in wanting to WOW parents with good take-home souvenirs. In reality, they just wanted their kids to learn and have fun.

I made things much too complicated.

Do this instead

Research what works for other teachers and implement their ideas.

For your first camp, I highly recommend buying a formal plan.

Several teachers sell inexpensive camp programs online. They include daily schedules, a supply list, resource links…All the planning has been done for you!

This will save you hours of preparation time and help ensure your first summer camp is a huge success!

Related: Planning A Piano Summer Camp

I Didn’t Take Pictures of My Summer Camp

As you’ve gathered by now, my first summer camp was…chaotic!

Yes, I was smart enough to hire extra help, but I was so busy planning and organizing that I didn’t even think about taking pictures. After the camp was over I really regretted not having photos to put up around the studio.

Do this instead

While you could take photos, I highly recommend having your spouse, a friend, or a parent take pictures.

You’ll love having this burden off your shoulders during camp week, and the photos will be invaluable when promoting your next camp.

Ensure your studio parents sign a waiver that you can use their child’s photo.


It’s been years since I held that first summer camp. Truthfully, I still don’t enjoy teaching large groups of students.

On the bright side, I’ve found great success with smaller groups.

Duet Camps are much more my style and still bring in extra income (and on rare occasions, I’ve gone wild and crazy and taught three students at once!)

A big help when planning and organizing summer camps is a support system.

The TopMusicPro community is all about giving support, encouragement, and feedback. It’s a great place to get ideas, ask for advice, and discuss successes and failures with other like-minded teachers.

Tracy Selle

Tracy Selle is a Christian wife, mom, piano teacher, and author of 101 Piano Practice Tips. She is also the creator of Upbeat Piano Teachers. She’s been teaching piano for nearly 20 years and prior to that, was a TV meteorologist. Her goal is to inspire other piano teachers and hopefully their enthusiasm will impact students across the globe!

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