Sites offer a virtual camp experience

ELLSWORTH – After months of home schooling their children and being cooped up inside, parents are learning that many summer camps and other summer plans are being delayed, canceled, or going online due to safety concerns and social distancing guidelines still in place due to COVID-19. An estimated 20 million U.S. children attend summer camp each year, according to the American Camp Association. That leaves many Maine parents wondering what they will do with their children this summer.

“Like many families, I find myself wondering what options I have for my kids this summer to get outside, have fun, and be safe,” said Matt Kasper, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in New England. “While we all try to juggle work, kids, and our health, the convenience of our mobile devices can help us create balance to our days  with convenient access to work platforms and to the many online resources for kids during the summer.”

U.S. Cellular suggests the following options to help keep your kids busy, entertained and safe this summer if overnight and day camps aren’t an option.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Brain Chase is an online scavenger hunt that allows each participant to create customized academic activities that help them unlock new chapters in an animated story as they participate in a global race to find a real, live treasure.

Staying Active: The United States Tennis Association’s Net Generation program has a website that includes fun activities and tennis-themed educational content to help kids learn tennis skills at home. The site also has math activities, drawing challenges from tennis stars, games and projects.

Find Your Interests: Outschool is an online source for kids that have a variety of interests. Parents can sign kids up for a single class, multiple classes or even a summer camp. Teachers offer interest-based classes like: arts, life skills, coding & tech, health & wellness, math, science & nature, music, social studies, world languages, and even classes on Minecraft, Lego and Harry Potter.

Coding: For kids interested in coding, game design and digital arts, Connected Camps is a live, hands-on interactive camp. Kids interact with one another in small online groups, encouraging teamwork, collaboration and problem-solving skills.

Go Local: Many local camps are modifying their camp experience either by reduced camper class sizes, staggering the number of campers or by going online with virtual campfires and even virtual sleepover cabins for overnight camps. Maine Summer Camps is a

resource for families looking for camps in Maine. A camper tool will help you identify the right camp for your child and provide the latest update on their status due to COVID-19.

Check in with your child’s camp organizers to learn more about how they are proceeding this summer, what safety procedures they are putting in place, and what is expected of campers should they decide to stay open.

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