BLOWING ROCK — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and summer camp cancelations, the Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation Department launched a free, eight-week virtual summer camp on June 16. The department announced this alternative to its traditional day camp on its Facebook page.

“(The inability to host our traditional summer camp) doesn’t stop us from wanting our campers to have the best summer possible during these wacky times,” the post stated. “We have come together with local businesses to help provide our campers with activities all summer long.”

Connor Pate, summer camp director, said that the challenge of hosting the summer camp virtually came from figuring out how to put the activities online. He noted that the staff of the parks and rec department was “happy to put something together” for summer camp because it’s one of the department’s “most treasured events.”

“When all of this (the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions) started, we were still planning the regular camp,” Pate said, adding that the staff had to pivot when stay-at-home orders were issued and restrictions were placed on the amount of people gathered. “We have a great staff that worked hard to find interactive activities and make videos to put on the website.”

A majority of the summer’s content was posted during the week of June 29 to July 3, giving users a variety of day-to-day activities, but according to Pate, the occasional new activity will be added from businesses who have partnered with the camp to provide how-to videos or activities.

Additionally, hosting the summer camp online has expanded the amount of participants that the camp has had. While a traditional year’s summer camp would see 70-80 participants, according to Pate, the website has reported “about 400 different, unique visits” to the online content.

Pate said that the parks and rec department “wanted to offer something for both the kids and the parents that would help them through these wacky times.”

Find online Blowing Rock Summer Camp activities and videos at blowingrocksports.wixsite.com.

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