Summer camps that serve kids and teens in the St. Louis area are expanding options online in response to the COVID-19 crisis, in some cases offering live, interactive, virtual camps. In addition, some camps are offering spring camps and classes you can sign your kids up for right now. Some traditional camps have also lowered camp enrollment limits and instituted safety checklists for in-person camps.
First out of the gate to offer live, interactive virtual camps have been organizations that already specialize in technology, like Lavner Camps, a nationwide camp organization that has been offering tech and STEM camps at Wash U for several years. Lavner is offering live, online, interactive tech camps and one-on-one tutoring now and in the summer for elementary-age through high school age students. How did they make the jump to add more than 30 virtual camps so quickly?
"We have a year-round technology department who works hard to develop a cutting-edge curriculum for our camp families all year, so it's not like we created these programs from scratch," said Justin Lavner, Founder and CEO of Lavner Camps. "Instead, we were able to utilize what they already produced and adapt the program accordingly for our virtual camps. Some activities were removed and some were added, so we're confident that campers and parents alike will receive the fantastic experience they have come to expect from Lavner Camps."
Parents don't have to wait to take advantage of Lavner's online programs. Weekly spring tech camps and online tutoring programs have already begun. "Our Lavner IQ Tutoring Program is open to campers all year. It features live 1-on-1 instruction online, cutting-edge curricula, and Ivy League, top notch tutors," Lavner added. Lavner also plans to offer in-person camps this summer, so parents can choose which option is right for their family. "With school not in session, our commitment to providing educational experiences for our families is more important than ever," he continued. "Regardless of the type of camp that families choose, we want campers to discover a passion, gain experience, develop skills, create awesome projects, learn from talented instructors, and get a head start. We have spent a tremendous amount of time and resources developing both our in-person and virtual camps in order to ensure that our campers achieve these goals."
Another tech-focused camp, Bricks 4 Kidz, has also begun offering online programs to kids now and plan to in the summer as well. Owner Nancy Portscheller said online classes and camps will use the same proprietary LEGO kits as in-person camps and will use platforms like Zoom to provide live interaction with campers.
"We are offering a wide variety of online LEGO building camps. Minecraft, Star Wars, Amazing Animals, Superheroes, and more. We are also offering computer camps like Minecraft Gaming and Video Game Design," Portscheller explained. Online camps are limited in enrollment so students will get plenty of individual attention.
Bricks 4 Kidz has also made adjustments to their planned in-person camps this summer. Enrollment for its LEGO building, Scratch, Minecraft and Robotics camps will be limited to 12 campers, and Minecraft Gaming will be limited to 20. All LEGOs will be disinfected daily, and students will be limited to groups of three or four that use one set of LEGOs for the entire week, she added. "We hope to give children the option to start or continue building a love for STEM-related activities."
Little Medical School is taking its award-winning healthcare curriculum online for summer camps with its Calling All Doctors virtual camp, said Director of Special Programs Alissa Duel. The hands-on curriculum will allow campers to collaborate as a virtual team led by trained and certified instructors. Live, online sessions are for ages 6-10 and will be held throughout the month of June. Areas of focus include pediatrics, sports medicine, wilderness medicine, and veterinary medicine.
Little Medical School's traditional summer camps will have limited enrollment – 10 kids per camp, and each camp has gone through a COVID-19 Safety Checklist System based on CDC recommendations that Little Medical School developed. Camp programs for ages 4-15 run throughout the summer at Little Medical School's campus in Creve Coeur.
Sweetology has also just announced virtual camps as well as in-person cake decorating camps with space limitations and special health precautions. Learn more here.
For more spring and summer camp opportunities - both in-person and virtual, visit our easily searchable 2020 Summer Camp Guide (updated weekly to include new virtual camps as they are announced) or our newest section featuring Online Camps and Classes.
In-person story times are on hold, but children can still enjoy virtual story times from the expert storytellers at the St. Louis County Library!
Make art. Go on a guided tour, DIY a time capsule. Peek behind the scenes. Watch the Cassily Crew at work. Help inspect the slides. All from home! Every Monday through Friday the staff, crew, artists and historians at City Museum are going LIVE on Facebook to share stories, offer free art classes, and entertain kids and families in all the ways they know how (read: mischief, mayhem and making).
Enjoy the Saint Louis Zoo online! Zoom with Saint Louis Zoo educators is a live, free presentation that allows families to learn more about animals and how amazing they are. Themes vary, and registration in advance is required. After registering, you'll receive a confirmation email letting you know how to join.
If you can't join the live presentation, the recordings are available on the zoo's web site at stlzoo.org/STLZOOms
Purina Farms is bringing the best of the farm to your home every week! You can virtually explore Purina Farms through videos featuring the animals, dog trainers and others who work there, as well as the pets who work and play at Purina Farms every day. Each day of the week features videos on a variety of topics including animal connections, training tips and responsible pet care advice for kids.
The Magic House is bringing innovative, hands-on learning to you at home with its #MagicAtHome series of interactive, instructional online presentations. The Magic At Home series of activities includes lots of fun projects that you can make at home with common materials. The easy-to-follow directions mean your kids can make paper sculpture, do shaving cream marble painting, create make-your-own flowers, go "fishin," make TP roll animals, make salad spin art and more.