When you think of industries most affected by the global lockdown, summer camps might be near the top of the list. This is unfortunate for many reasons. Working parents need summer childcare options. Camp staff need employment. S’mores need roasting over a campfire. And those ghost stories aren’t going to tell themselves. However, we would argue that the biggest bummers resulting from the lack of summer camps are the lost opportunities for nurturing a child’s imagination. A camp’s raison d’être is to ensure kids can run around, see and do cool things, develop skills, and – well – just be kids. So what are camps to do, given the restrictions on public gatherings prompted by COVID-19?
Sandy Hill Camp & Retreat Center found a novel solution. Their international camp counselors created videos of themselves teaching and sharing aspects of their culture, naming it “Sandy Hill Around the World.” As of July 2020, there are twenty-five videos in the YouTube series, with more set to premiere on a regular basis.
What’s the most essential part of a trip? A map, of course! Fortunately, Sandy Hill’s intrepid instructors came prepared: the first in the series teaches young explorers to make their own world map. After that, it’s off to Kenya, for cooking, sports, and a virtual tour. The videos use these general topics to explore several different cultures from the perspectives of food, sports, and more. Lewis teaches how to make Scottish shortbread. Davianne demonstrates how to dance like a Jamaican. Lena creates flower crowns for the German Midsummer Holiday celebration.
Karolina, an international camp counsellor from Poland, made videos introducing her country, flowers wreaths, part of many rural Polish customs, and Polish cooking. She commented that she “was happy that, even though I could not be at camp this year, I can be a part of the campers’ experience and share some interesting facts about my country!” Karolina reflects an optimistic view on making the most of a difficult situation: “we can make their summer amazing,” she says, “as campers are not only happy to see us and hear about our cultures, but they are encouraged to participate in challenges, trying out dancing, painting, cooking and many other activities!”
Sandy Hill’s ultimate goal is to inspire young people. After all, most of us have camp memories that we’ll never forget.