A tradition for millions of families, summer camp is a time for kids to get out of the house. (And a time for parents to get a little break.) We know because our daughters have been attending (and loving) summer camps for years. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many parent’s plans for camp this year may have to change to virtual summer camp.
Ava is sick about this. She’s attended the same YMCA Camp Surf in the San Diego area for 7 years in a row now. This year she was heading towards Counselor-In-Training status, a pathway to a future summer job. She really wants to be a camp counselor at Camp Surf, but not sure that can happen now virtually.
Virtual Summer Camp is a Reality
According to the American Camp Association (AMA), there are around 5,000 day camps and 7,000 sleepaway camps in the United States.
Certain areas of the country are still not open or only partially open. As part of this, the AMA released guidelines for each camp to determine if they’ll operate or not. While some camps are completely closing for the year, some are deciding to do a virtual summer camp. This option helps families keep children busy while still respecting self-distancing rules.
Although virtual summer camp won’t be an option for everyone, it’s a great solution in a time of uncertainty for kids. To help out, we’ve gathered some good info on how kids can enjoy a virtual summer camp and still have fun this summer.
Camp In A Box
Summer camp-in-a-box isn’t a new idea. But it’s an idea that’s taken off this year due to self-distancing. There are plenty of options for camp-in-a-box depending on your child’s age and hobbies.
Little Passports is offering two camp-in-a-box ideas. One is for ages 5-8 which is a junior science box. And another is meant for ages 6-10, which introduces campers to different countries of the world. Both sets include schedules, hands-on projects, books and activities to complete. Each set has six days’ worth of activities, with 3-4 hours of activity per day. The Junior Science Box is $156 and the World Box is $150. These camps have no specific dates and can be done at any time.
Art camp-in-a-box is offered by Art Classes For Kids. There’s a box for beginners and another for more advanced artists. Each has 10 projects, all supplies needed, access to video lessons and live online classes so kids can meet the instructor and their classmates. The kids will create so much, they’ll be able to put on an art show at the end of camp! Each Art Camp-In-A-Box is $175 and contains all supplies needed for the activities including an artist apron. There’s also an option of a sibling’s box with extra supplies for $225. Camp runs the weeks of June 15, July 13 and August 3, 2020.
The Girl Scouts of West Central Florida are offering girls a camp-in-a-box series with a different theme each week, including Space Camp, Homestead Camp and Self-Care. Boxes contain activities of up to 2 hours per day for 5 days. Included are on-demand video instructions, recipes and items to complete the activities (excluding basics like scissors and glue). The girls also have access to online flag ceremonies, camp sign-alongs, and virtual sessions with camp counselors.
Open to all girls, they don’t have to reside in west Florida. The cost per week for registered Girl Scout members is $25. For non-members it’s $75 per week. Girls can select as many weeks as they like. Girl Scout Camp-In-A-Box runs every week from Monday, June 15 through Friday, August 7.
Camp Happy Days
Camp Happy Days is located in South Carolina and is a sleepaway camp for children who have been diagnosed with cancer. They’ve converted their camp to a home-based version this year. This is a great way for children who have been dealing with cancer during the Covid-19 outbreak to commune with others who understand what they’re going through.
Boxes will be delivered to homes a few days before camp starts and contain recipes, a derby car to decorate and other activities. Camp Happy Days begins Sunday, June 28, and includes an opening ceremony, virtual check-ins, a talent show and a ribbon ceremony. Then on Friday, July 3 will be the closing ceremony. For more info on pricing, please contact Camp Happy Days directly.
Running from western North Carolina south through South Carolina, the Catawba-Wateree River is about 220 miles long. The Catawba Riverkeepers normally offer a day camp for local children to learn more about the importance of keeping waterways clean.
This year, children around the country will be able to learn with their camp-in-a-box. Based on their H2O: Hydro Hands-On camp, this box includes 6 age-appropriate activities (includes supplies), daily videos from camp counselors and a summer camp bandana. Each box is $50 and siblings can join in for an additional $20 per child.
Virtual STEM Camps
Based in southern California, Digital Dragon offers a modern approach to STEAM activities. In addition to teaching digital skills to kids, they also teach about teamwork. They’ve taken their approach online this summer with programs for all school ages who are interested in art, science and math.
Your kids have probably seen a video of someone plopping a Mentos candy into a bottle of Diet Coke and watching it explode. Well they can take virtual summer camp with the inventor of that experiment, Steve Spangler.
Great for children ages 5 to 11, this STEM Camp includes an hour each day with Steve for live instruction, Q & A, and info. You’ll receive a box that includes items that will help children conduct experiments at home. And there’s also 50 hands-on experiments to help draw out kids’ creativity and interest in science. The cost to attend is $299. Steve Spangler’s summer camp is only available the week of Monday, June 15 and space is limited. There is a choice to attend a morning session or an afternoon session.
Greater New Orleans STEM Initiative
Formed to give children in their area the resources they need to learn more about STEM, the Greater New Orleans STEM Initiative has taken their camp online this year. With the theme ‘Robotic Electrical Engineering’, this camp is geared towards students heading into 3rd through 11th grades. Students will be grouped by appropriate ages and levels so no one is left out. A box of materials, including electronic items needed and a camp t-shirt, will be sent out to all campers.
This camp is 2 hours per day of live instruction for one week. There will also be hands-on circuit building. Challenges and practices that are self-paced are also expected. Included activities include motors, circuits, voltage and batteries. The cost of the camp is $185 and there is a choice of two sessions – either the week of June 15 or the week of July 13 (both sessions are the same).
Intensive Visual & Performing Arts
World-renowned for its programs surrounding the visual and performing arts, Interlochen Center for the Arts welcomes those of all ages to its location in Michigan for classes and performances year-round. Alumni such as singer Josh Groban and Tony award-winning actress Victoria Clark often speak to how attending camp at Interlochen helped shape their careers. And now children in 2nd through 12th grades can experience the rewards of attending Interlochen, right from their own homes.
Each age group will receive three weeks of masterclasses, elective classes, performances, and both live and private instruction. Courses include classical music performance, creative writing, acting, singing/songwriting, musical theater, dance and the visual arts. There are also free add-ons for fitness opportunities. While the program for grades 2 through 6 are less strenuous at an estimated 3 hours per day of instruction, the schedule for grades 7 through 12 might be considered intense. Programs for older children is 4 hours per day of instruction. There is also additional time for practice, about an hour per week.
All levels’ sessions will be from Sunday, June 28 through Sunday, July 19. Tuition for Junior Session is $1,950. And tuition for both the Intermediate and High School levels are $2,950.
New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts
Geared towards high school students interested in pursuing a career in acting, The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts is offering online intensive training. These 4-week sessions will assign classes based on age and experience. Topics covered are Film & TV or Musical Theater. The topics are broken down into sessions such as Voice, Scene Study, Auditioning for the Camera and Dance & Movement. Classes run from 9 am to 5:30 pm EST with a break included.
Casting directors, agents and current Broadway stars are included in the last two weeks of each session. All of the classes will be live and interactive with the guests, students and instructors. There is a choice of two sessions. Session 1 is from Monday, June 15 to Friday, July 10. Session 2 is from Monday, July 20 through Friday, August 14. The cost to attend is $3,500 and scholarships are available.
Berklee College of Music
The college of choice for famous musicians including John Mayer and Esperanza Spalding, Berklee College of Music is the go-to training grounds for serious musicians. Both online and immersive, their summer program allows musicians from around the world to learn and work together. Programs such as Electronic Music Production, Film Scoring, Guitar and Songwriting are geared towards students ages 14 and over. And certain courses can provide college credit!
Course dates and durations vary based on the program selected. Fees range from $750 to $5,430.
Virtual Summer Camp May Be the Best Alternative
So after the wringing of hands and the worrying about whether or not camp will be in session, there are viable alternatives. It’s not the same as being there overnight for a week or two, but it beats your kid staring at their four walls this summer!