By now the news likely has settled in — your best-laid plans for sending the kids to summer camp have been obliterated by the coronavirus pandemic. There are still plenty of ideas for salvaging summer camp — most for families with budgets at every end of the spectrum.
As long as the new summer plans engage your child’s mind and serve up chances to think independently and forge new friendships, your child will still grow, said Peter Scales, a research psychologist and senior researcher at the Search Institute in Minneapolis.
Here, then, are six suggestions for salvaging the summer without breaking the bank.
With tens of millions of Americans sheltering in place these days, virtual school and virtual work have become commonplace. Understandably, then, many day camps are also pivoting to roll out virtual versions — each with spots to fill.
In San Francisco, for instance, Rock Band Land, a popular weeklong summer day camp that focuses on music, storytelling, improv comedy and video, has virtualized the experience to offer a new product, The RBL Donkey Camp Show.
For those families who can afford virtual day camps curated entirely by counselors, there likely will be plenty of choices. For those operating with smaller budgets, embracing a more ad hoc approach may be necessary.
One great option for this approach: Daily STEAMwork videos from the new National Children’s Museum in Washington, DC. Every day since March 17, the museum has created videos to inspire children in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. There are now more than 60 videos on the museum website with a list of materials needed for each.
For parents of younger kids, full-on camp-style activities may be too involved. This is where quick-and-easy check-ins can save the day.
Through the California-based Hope, Love and Magic, families can sign up for virtual character visits with actors dressed as princesses and characters inspired from fairy tales and iconic kids’ movies. A 30-minute Zoom visit includes conversation, singing and story time.
Technically speaking, long-distance travel is against the rules until national, state and regional governments lift various orders to shelter in place. (The rules of each US state vary.) Once we’re all free to move about again, however, vacation rentals may emerge as a safe and worthy choice for quick and easy summer getaways with the entire family. These getaways can take the place of camp.
If you live near a public library (spoiler alert: many of us do), there’s a good chance your kids will have the opportunity to participate in a free and age-appropriate virtual reading club this summer.
Timothy Shanahan, founding director of the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Literacy, said parents should play an active role in evaluating the parameters of any book club, and that they should investigate everything — the content and difficulty levels of the books, and the maturity level and dynamics of the group.
In this age of social distancing, he said it’s good for kids to join with friends to stimulate discussion.
At the very minimum, experts suggested that families consider the forthcoming camp-less summer as an opportunity to come together and tap the knowledge and resources of their respective communities.
These newfangled camps have no employees whatsoever — instead, many grown-up neighbors simply take turns volunteering to teach groups of socially distanced kids on subject matters that they know and love.
Excerpted from “6 Ideas for Summer Fun Now That Camp Has Been Canceled” from CNN. Read the full article for more details on each of the summer camp alternatives.