More parents considering virtual summer camps during pandemic

With school wrapping up, Katey McPherson, an educator who travels the country teaching kids and parents digital dos and don'ts, says now is the time to have children pursue their passions.

DETROIT – With many traditional summer camps choosing to stay closed this season, parents have another option to consider, virtual summer camps.

With school wrapping up, Katey McPherson, an educator who travels the country teaching kids and parents digital dos and don'ts, says now is the time to have children pursue their passions.

Read more: Kids at Home

"Let's do some fun stuff this summer. Let's do some voice lessons, let's do a minecraft camp let's do art lessons whatever it is that they have a passion for, I would hone in on that. They have just been through trauma. All of us have experienced trauma, let them do some fun stuff that maybe they haven't tried before you've never thought it, identify what their passions are and pursue those," McPherson an associate of Erca Group Inc said.

She knows there are some great virtual camp offerings but wants to make sure parents are helping their children get enough physical activity.

"I just worry about moving bodies physically touching one another, connecting and nature. Those are the four principles of child development, nature, physical touch, movement and connection. So if there are virtual camps doing that, I'm all for it," McPherson said.

Camps like those offered by the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the Cranbrook Art Museum are working to do just that.

“This challenge brings an opportunity to flex some creative muscles and the piece that we’re most excited about are some pretty fabulous science kits for camps at the Institute of Science and art kits for camps at Cranbrook Art Museum. We know that this is a virtual experience, but we are going to equip you with the provisions you need for hands on science,” Sarah Schleicher, the visitor experience manager at the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Campers will be given kits to make the experience interactive and very hands-on.

"Our online camps are really designed to be really engaging, it's all live sessions with one of our teaching artists," said Kelly Lyons, the curator of education at the Cranbrook Art Museum.

The virtual camps will be two hours a day, giving families flexibility and have the camps be just a part of their summer experience.

Schleicher said this setup gives them the ability to share their resources, and people with audiences in a new way.

“Chatting with an astrophysicist coming to live from inside the Institute’s planetarium or we’re talking with the chef on campus because we’re trying to figure out how to send home, some cucumbers and a jar and salt and experiment with pickling, and then taste your pickles over the course of the week during chemistry week. So it should be pretty exciting,” Schleicher said.

Another example is the science kit that will come with geology week, campers can find rock samples cut by the Institute’s geologist and during ecology week campers will meet members of the freshwater forum and work with them to design solutions to solve environmental problems.

Lyons said the quality artistic and creative experience is extremely open ended. For example, the Design Inside camp teaches kids about interiors, floor plans and furniture. They get to see the chair collection as one of the things they will learn about before making their own creations. It’s their way of making the experience hands-on and connected by talking about both what the museum has in its collection as well as what kids make at home.

Registration is already open to the general public for Cranbrook Art Museum camps and the Cranbrook Institute of Science camps.

Here are the links:

The American Camp Association has a directory of virtual camp offerings and with it all being online kids can benefit from all kinds of different camp experiences from any location.

There are lots of virtual summer camp options, a quick online search shows the school offers programs including creative writing, wilderness survival and even how to debate.

Got a budding baker? Bake-a-camp offers kits that include baking cream puffs and cupcakes.

Or consider Camp KiwiCo, the company is selling crates with hands-on activities, but all the activities, videos and printables will be free for parents to do themselves too later this month.