For the last three months, the classroom has gone virtual. Now entering the summer months, the traditional summer camp may also look different for kids due to social distancing measures.
Katherine Bryant ’07 and seven other educators from the U.S. and abroad have used their virtual classroom experiences from the spring to create a virtual camp experience. Camp Anywhere is a virtual summer camp for students ages 5-14.
“A big takeaway of this time has been that I have hope that it improves the real disparities in our national education system,” said Bryant, who teaches middle and upper grades in the Washington, DC, area.
“I also hope that it pushes us to be more innovative and creative. I found that was absolutely true for myself.”
Not Missing a Beat
Bryant says her school was fortunate to have a computer for every student. Since every student did have a computer, she was able to run the typical school day.
They didn’t “miss a beat” when it came to the time they spent learning, Bryant said. But social interactions with peers and personal feedback from teachers were lacking in the virtual classroom.
“Relationship building is what’s most important with this camp program that we’ve been developing,” she said.
Bryant said the teachers wanted children to participate in experiential learning while also developing emotionally and socially.
During the virtual summer camp, students will learn tools to use in their communities. They’ll share what they’ve been learning with their teacher and classmates on Zoom calls.
“As an educator, I try to develop student experiences with the sustainable mantra ‘Think global, act local’ in mind,” Bryant said. “It’s important kids know about global issues, but also have the tools to make changes in their own community.
“Camp Anywhere will provide a place for kids to engage in structured activities and continue to learn over the summer through a deep dive into topics that they’re interested in. They will also be collaborative problem-solving with children from around the world.”
‘Skeleton Scavenger Hunt Yoga’ and more
The campers are offered a variety of sessions designed for four age groups.
The youngest campers can learn about the bones of the human body in courses like “Skeleton Scavenger Hunt Yoga.” The eldest are putting together 2D and 3D materials in courses like “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”
Sign-ups for the first sessions have already closed, but the adventure continues for two more sessions this summer. The later sessions will have new classes based on student feedback.
Bryant says it’s a blessing that Camp Anywhere is offered to students internationally. She says that being able to work with field experts has been a blessing too since students weren’t able to take field trips this past spring.
Teachers hope to meet families’ specific needs this summer. Bryant hopes to reach more students who may have had a gap in learning and offer meaningful experiences for kids unable to attend traditional camp.
The teachers are providing student leadership opportunities for high school and college students as well. PC student Hanna McElroy will intern during the summer.
As for Bryant, who studied biology and history at PC, she says her majors were instrumental in developing an interdisciplinary lens in how she sees the world and her work.
Her studies are also grounded in the faith-based imperative of serving others, she said. After graduating from PC, Bryant taught and worked with a non-profit in South India for a year before going to graduate school.
She became involved in sustainable agriculture when she returned to D.C. to pursue a degree in international development. She spent her next few years farming and working with student programming.
Education isn’t her formal background. Still, as someone who believes in lifelong learning, she feels that fulfilling this type of programming is a natural fit.