In these last days of summer, Sherwood Forest is wrapping up a camp season like no other. Stay Camp 2020, our first ever all-virtual camp program, challenged staff and campers to stay connected, keep minds engaged, and cultivate the spirit of camp in our homes. While spending the summer apart was never what we anticipated, it proved that camp bonds are stronger than we ever thought possible.
Sherwood Forest made the call early on in the spring to transition programs to an online format, swiftly making outreach to camper families and strategizing the best ways to provide kids a camp community at home.
“Part of our mission at Sherwood Forest is to serve kids with limited resources who would likely not have the option to attend a residential summer camp”, shares camp director, Rachel Tutwiler. “Keeping that in mind, it is also likely that many of our families are experiencing increased financial stress during this pandemic. As schools closed in the spring and it became clear that in-person programs everywhere were choosing not to run, we realized that many of our campers were losing their options for connection and enrichment. We also thought about all of our campers who look forward to camp throughout the year because it feels like a needed escape from “normal” life. Although we knew we couldn’t safely provide the typical program, it was clear we had to do something for our campers.”
Stay Camp 2020 programming ran the gamut as far as activities offered, ranging from a book club and art projects to science experiments and even yoga. Each child registered for camp and those on the wait-list, were delivered a “Buder Box”, which included the supplies and instructions for joining online meetings so they could participate in Stay Camp. What really brought home the experience for campers, however, was the community time with their friends, also known as “Logs”. By starting and ending their days in this shared virtual space, they were able to plan their day, reflect on what they learned, and simply have fun together.
This fall, Sherwood Forest will be continuing with virtual programs through offering weekly themed clubs that campers can chose based on personal interests. Similar to the boxes they received over the summer, campers will be delivered all the supplies they need to participate and each club and directions for online meeting. So while summer may be drawing to a close, camp and its work with kids continues.
While campers and staff have felt the weight of the loss of the typical summer, it’s been empowering to realize that Sherwood Forest can overcome such an enormous challenge and continue serving kids. It’s because of the strong community behind us, that the team was able to pivot all plans for summer camp and transition so quickly.
As Rachel shared, “volunteers and donors alike dug in to say ‘How do we help you make this happen?’ and we truly would not have been able to do this virtual program without the support and trust of our Sherwood family.”
To catch up on everything Stay Camp 2020, visit the following link to see various videos and activity plans. https://www.sherwoodforeststl.org/stay-camp-2020/