HIGH COUNTRY — It’s the height of summer, but with summer camps canceled across the United States, kids and parents alike are looking for something to do with the long summer vacation. This is why Inspire EdVentures, in partnership with WAMY Community Action Center, has established an exciting new program for the summer: Virtual Summer Camp, a program created for third to fifth graders (but open to all ages) to find adventure, joy and discovery in the natural wonder of their own backyards!
Why virtual summer camp?
In the wake of the Coronavirus health crises, the founders of Inspire EdVentures — an educational travel organization that brings on average four groups to Belize each year to learn about the natural world – began to look for new learning opportunities to engage with their communities closer to home. In communication with WAMY, Inspire EdVentures became aware of many third to fifth graders who were without summer activities during their usual vacation. From this partnership came an idea: to combine Inspire EdVenture’s passion for science and learning with WAMY’s established presence in the High Country community. In mid-June, Inspire EdVenture’s first week of Virtual Summer Camp began.
“We are trying to expose learners to experiences that open their mind,” said Eric Weber, co-Founder of Inspire EdVentures. “We want them to observe and think critically about their surroundings and the impact of their decisions.”
Through the Virtual Summer Camp, young learners are supplied weekly activity packets full of educational opportunities that can be completed in their own backyards. Activities range from how to do a “bio blitz” – where learners record all living creatures they can see in a 30-minute period – to information on backyard birding, which teaches students how to identify species such as cardinals and finches common to the Blue Ridge area. “It’s important for kids to get outside, especially right now, when they’re not able to socialize and be outdoors,” said Emily Neff, Youth Development Director at WAMY. “Even if they’re just doing it with their siblings, or even if they don’t have a backyard, everyone has something that they’re able to explore.”
Making an impact
Inspire EdVentures’ Virtual Summer Camp isn’t just about finding new methods to share the group’s passion for adventure and learning – it’s also about finding new ways to give back to the community. As part of the Summer Camp program, Inspire EdVentures and WAMY are also providing meals to summer campers who depend on camp lunches to meet their daily nutrition requirements during the out-of-school period. The meal program reflects one of Inspire’s core values: creating a positive footprint in the communities they engage with, whether it be in Belize or North Carolina.
While travel and in-person education may be impacted by the ongoing pandemic, Inspire EdVenture’s Virtual Summer Camp program shows that learning, discovery and fun can continue even with traditional programs on hold. “We aren’t expecting that everyone will become a scientist, we just hope that we can urge our learners to observe and wonder about the world around them,” said Weber. “Absolutely everything in nature has a story – we want you to ask yourself, ‘what is the story?’”
To learn how to sign up for a Virtual Summer Camp, click to inspire-edventures.com/virtual-summer-camp/.