Summer camps across the country are being postponed, and it’s tough for a variety of reasons.
For parents, camp offers a number of benefits for their children, but it’s also a time for parents themselves to clear the house so they can pursue their own summer projects and plans, or simply, take a break.
For kids, It’s a time for them to explore a passion on a deeper level, or to build a new interest they’ve wanted so bad to get involved with; and with other kids who share their same interests. It’s a time for independence and growth.
When you consider the different types of summer camps, some kids will feel these losses more than others.
For instance, the traditional summer camp - where so much of the experience is tied to cabins, campfires, and canoes - is a tough one to have postponed given that it can’t be easily recreated at home.
But others - to the point of this post - might actually be more “savable." In fact, knowing that this will be a summer at home for your kids might enable you to help them dive even deeper into that one thing they were supposed to tackle at camp.
It’s all about adopting the mindset of how kids can still pursue their passions, but just a bit differently in the absence of camp.
Summer is saved (and then some?)
Let’s use soccer camp as an example, with the understanding that a lot of what’s listed below can be carried out with other interests and previously-planned camp destinations as well.
So, given all that’s going on, how can the canceling of soccer camp be turned into a positive for your child? How can they still pursue their soccer interests?
One nice thing is, with kids at home and schedules more or less free of external commitments, you can make an ongoing “camp” effort; really, it’s not the idea of soccer camp any more, but the “summer of soccer” instead, where kids can focus on multiple aspects of the sport versus a week of camp and being done with one particular aspect.
Here is what I mean.
Training can still happen with virtual instructors
If one goal this summer was for your child to improve their skills under the guidance of an expert or experienced coach, that’s still very much a possibility.
Now, there are a number of interactive virtual dribble trainers and simulators that can help kids keep their skills sharp. For instance, something like the smart soccer ball and accompanying live daily classes allows young athletes to run through a variety of drills and exercises.
The same options are available for basketballers, while baseball and other sports offer their own creative virtual sessions. And if a sport wasn’t the prime target this summer for your child, the same idea applies to art, theater, cooking, and more.
While COVID-19 came out of nowhere as a surprise, and has extended longer than many anticipated, activity providers, experts, instructors, coaches, etc. have embraced reality and made the pivot; doing what they can to allow kids and teens the opportunity to still be able to pursue their interests, just in different manners.
This goes for all interest areas—coding, music, art, theater, and more.
Two-way interaction can still take place as well
With this soccer example, it’s not much fun for kids to only be able to dribble the ball around on their own, right? At least with the smart ball mentioned above, kids are training right alongside live humans on the other side of the screen.
But one missing piece here is the key soccer component of kicking a ball in a certain direction towards another player, and being able to receive passes from others as well. Soccer is a team sport, and it’s difficult to recreate that aspect without the help of another.
To get as close as possible, there are a number of different practice nets available that offer the ability for kids to play on their own, more or less; kicking the ball and not having to worry about misses given netting that extends beyond traditional post lengths and returns the ball right back (or at least corrals the ball so it doesn’t go much further).
Again, this option lends itself to athletes, as there are also basketball hoop attachments that help with ball return, and practice nets that baseballers can slam into.
But, think about the summer activities your child is getting or wants to get involved with this summer. Are they typically elevated at summer camp by having another person available to allow for two-way interaction? It’s a big piece missing from many suggested summer activities right now, but opportunities do exist.
Supplemental training is almost easier now
As mentioned above, your child’s primary summer goal may be to improve their skills in soccer or other interests.
But, with the combination of more at-home time than usual, and the many organizations doing what they can to make their services accessible, kids can also think how their interests and passions can be fueled through other means.
Last summer, your child may have gone to soccer camp, had a great time, but didn’t do much that was soccer-related the rest of summer. Whether that’s good or bad is determined by your unique situation!
If that’s in fact “bad,” and you would love for your child to take things a step further, think about how this might be accomplished.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about for our young soccer star:
Creating a personal brand via graphic design: To kick off such a branding endeavor, kids can learn how to design brand assets like logos and different assets in Adobe.
Launching a YouTube channel: After their design work, who knows, maybe your child can even start their own YouTube channel where they provide their own soccer training tips and tutorials?
Connecting "soccer" to tech: Or, as a different path, think about what soccer has to do with something seemingly unrelated like tech. While it might be difficult to recreate particular in-person summer camp experiences at home, learning with technology is largely unaffected. So, perhaps an activity is something like creating a FIFA-style 3D soccer game?
Relationships can still be built
Last, perhaps it was being able to connect with other soccer-focused kids and teens your child was looking forward to most this summer? Without physically going to camp, this is a tough piece to replace, but still, there are options.
For instance, have you considered virtual summer camps? Yes, as in camp from home? It’s one type of online learning, but instead of kids sitting at a screen and learning on their own like some options, or having to share time with 30 others in a distance learning classroom scenario, these are small group “camps” or classes with live instruction.
And, there are outlets for different types of interests. So, for this soccer example, maybe it’s eSports Player Development and Data Science, while others interested in animation would be drawn (no pun intended) to something like animation and digital shorts.
Summer is still here, just different
It’s a tough mindset to adopt, but summer as we’ve known it is no longer. Even so, activities like camp can still be pursued, just differently. Hopefully the above gives you and your child the inspiration to do so.