When school lets out for summer, the excitement is palpable...there’s no homework, so much ice cream and, of course, camp! But what to do if COVID-19 has closed down the camps in your neck of the woods? Fear not: There’s a Zoom for that. (And some of them are actually pretty innovative and pretty adept at keeping your children active.) Read on for our roundup of virtual summer camps, which offer something to keep every type of child entertained this (long, long) season.
20 Virtual Summer Camps to Keep Your Child Busy When the Days Are Long
1. Varsity Tutors
These week-long camp sessions allow parents and kids to test the waters of virtual summer camp before diving into a longer commitment. Varsity Tutors boasts a large staff of expert instructors with experience in a wide range of subjects—ranging from uproarious improv games for little ones to mathematical research for the highschool set—and live, interactive learning (i.e., new summer camp friends) is part of the deal. The camp offerings are growing every day so you’re bound to find something that speaks to the specific interests of your young and restless, be your babe mini or just a mini adult. (They grow so fast, don’t they?)
2. The Camp Cloud
The ACA-accredited experiential education gurus from Adventure Links have put their heads together to craft this equally engaging selection of online summer camp for kids ages 6-15. There’s something for animal lovers, rugged outdoors adventurers, and even performing artists—and each program includes interactive screen-based time to provide children the opportunity to meaningfully connect with peers and mentors. That said, the majority of the curriculum can be done on a flexible schedule and consists of enriching at-home activities that provide plenty of fodder for when the fun goes live. (Good news for anyone who has ever brought a kid to a Zoom playdate unprepared and suffered the painful awkwardness that ensued.)
3. Camp Wonderopolis
Bueller? Bueller? Truth: Kids don’t like sitting at desks (actually, neither do we…) and that’s why STEM, with its hands-on approach to learning, has grown so popular with educators and parents. Behold then, the promised land of play-based learning: Wonderopolis is a DIY STEM-based summer camp that involves every skill-building project you wanted to dream up, if only you had the time and patience while simultaneously working from home. The resources range from literacy-boosting games to mind-blowing science experiments, and they’re free. So let’s all raise a glass to professional curriculum for kids that doesn’t jeopardize the college fund.
5. Happy Camper Live
Sometimes general camp curriculum on a virtual platform can be a tough sell...and yet your kiddo still needs to do something this summer or everybody will go bananas. Don’t worry, the folks at Happy Camper have your back with a goldmine of activities and pre-recorded videos for every age and every imaginable area of interest. Parents can help kids upload videos of their individual experiences to join a virtual campfire, an epic exchange of fun that provides even more inspiration to engage your little one—short attention span be damned!
6. Camp Edmo
Well-rounded learning is the best way to form youth into well-rounded people—or at least that’s the philosophy behind the Edmo method, and it’s hard to argue with their well-respected approach. Kids from preK through junior high can attend this summer camp, which offers a little bit of everything—nature hikes, art, coding, crafting—in its curriculum. Best of all, the instruction is all done live with the same group of campers throughout the session, so kids have a chance to form new friendships, near and far.
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7. Camp Kinda
Parents and children are already reeling from the disruption and uncertainty of life these days, and Camp Kinda is keepin’ it real. (It’s kinda nice not to be gaslit by a summer camp.) Funny name aside, this virtual camp promises to keep kids k-8 engaged with three to four hours of activities a day—and the schedule is particularly forgiving of working parents. Advance notice of the curriculum, flexible participation and a focus on mostly independent activities (movie-making, history’s mysteries) are among the camp’s many attractive qualities. In other words—no, you don’t have to help your kindergartener papier-mache the solar system while on a conference call. Oh, and did we mention that Camp Kinda is free?
8. Tech Revolution
Technology is indispensable these days, even for summer camp—so it’s only fitting that tech skills are the subject of this virtual education experience. This highly praised STEM summer camp relies exclusively on live interaction and small group learning for kids ages 6 to 14, and the curriculum was built by leaders with serious academic chops. Sign your child up this summer and you might end up with a future Harvard grad on your hands.
13. Virtual Summer
A skillful blend between distance learning and a classic, carefree summer camp experience. Every session 14 campers and two instructors come together and the group stays intact, providing a sense of community and peer connection. (Maybe even future pen pals?) The morning starts with a group meeting but from there the schedule includes a lot of flexibility and choice. The day is peppered with four periods, spaced out by several hours, but the periods are particularly appealing because children get to choose an activity from six different options. After all, you can lead a kiddo to the art supplies but you can’t make her draw.
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14. Le Club EFBA
Bilingual education boasts a whole host of benefits but it’s a pretty big job to take on at home, even if there’s a bilingual parent present. Give the gift of language learning to your child this summer with an online version of the acclaimed EFBA summer camp original. This immersive French program has earned the seal of approval from the ACA’s updated list of virtual camps, and it’s a pretty cool way to give your bebe a cosmopolitan experience this summer sans travel—n’est-ce pas?
18. The Boom Writer Haunt
The more you read, the more you know—and the better you write. This ingenious summer program is designed to encourage literacy and creativity in children grades three through six. Here’s how it works: your kiddo (independently) reads an assigned chapter, which ends with edge-of-the-seat suspense. Next, the happy camper pens the next part of the story and submits a draft for revision by real teachers. Of course, there’s no better motivation than a dose of competition, so final drafts are reviewed and a winner declared. Still, there are no losers in this educator-supported, invaluable introduction to the writing process. Consider it the first step towards a future oeuvre.