Like many this year, Friends was not able to hold our beloved summer camps in person. So we got creative with staff, local agency partners, board members and volunteering professional teachers all coming together to develop an online camp program focused on nature.
We set out to build a program that would help children and families get outdoors and enjoy nature while providing guided lessons to create easy home, and near-home, learning experiences. What came together was a wonderful, engaging, five week-long program.
Local educator, Stefany Feldbusch, facilitated the team’s work, and helped guide the program into fruition through many, many Zoom meetings. Together they designed parallel programs for two age groups, older and younger, and in total, we registered over 100 children between them! Once everything was ready, the kids, parents and teachers were all off to the races of learning together, both online, and out in the world of summer.
The program was well received, and parents of the participants gave terrific feedback. One parent responded “We particularly liked activities that included a touch sensory component…like feeling mud between your toes or feet in the water. It was nice to have a variety of activities to choose from to accommodate the amount of time our family had each week. There was always something we had time to do and lots to do if we had more time. I thought it was organized well and had something that everyone could experience”. Hearing about joyful engagement like this told us that our goal to have families outdoors and working together was both accomplished and enjoyed.
Program volunteers were also very happy with their sense of accomplish-ment and the palpable sense of helping the community, especially in such a chaotic time. Stefany Feldbusch shared her experience about the program, “Just the thought of bringing families an opportunity and excuse to enjoy their watershed during the COVID-19 pandemic brought me so much energy and excitement. I was happy to work with volunteers and FNFSR staff to make it into a reality. My goal was to provide activities and resources that led families outside and helped children develop a deeper appreciation and love for their environment. I am proud of all FNFSR volunteers and staff that overcame challenges brought forth by COVID-19 to bring families a safe and engaging program.”
This program gave Friends the chance to jump into the world of online -driven outdoor education, and by all accounts, we succeeded with gusto. Summer Stream Adventure With Friends added to our teaching toolbox. Part of good teaching is being adaptable, and the Friends educational program has done beautifully in this move into the online world of learning. We are so pleased with the feedback we’ve received from families, children, and our colleagues.
While we will be excited to have summer camps in person again, this program shows that we can still provide camps for our community and we can continue to build future programs. A special thanks to the following volunteers who are responsible for creating such a unique and successful Summer Stream Adventure: Stefany Feldbusch, Kellie Newcomer-Hendricks, Joan Chapman, Allyson Ponn, Kathy Doyle, and Gael Shaffer.
See photos below for participants adventures: