Eco-Adventure Camp offering virtual summer camp experience

Campers at last year’s Eco-Adventure Camp, which is run by Queen’s Undergraduate students in education, biology and environmental sciences. Submitted photo.

Eco- Adventure Camp, a camp run by the Queen’s University Biology Station, normally to sets off for Elbow Lake each morning from Queen’s University by school bus to make the almost 40 minute drive, and drop the kids off for a day filled of learning, canoeing, hiking and gaining an appreciation for local ecology and being outdoors in nature.

This year, due to the COVID-19 public health safety risks, restrictions implemented by the Ontario government, and the comfort level of staff and parents, Eco-Adventure Camp is going to look a little different.

The staff with Eco-Adventure Camp during a Zoom meeting this summer. Submitted photo.

“The entire mandate is to help kids get outside in nature and experience and learn about the local ecology around them,” said Ruth Bryce, the Camp Director for the past two years.

But how does one encourage adventure and the appreciation of local ecology from inside and why would they try and continue in the first place?

Well, according to Bryce, the team of staff, a group of Queen’s Undergraduate students in education, biology and environmental sciences, hired prior to the COVID-19  lockdown, were dedicated enough to overhaul the curriculum and make it so it is friendly for home, as well as the fact that fostering an appreciation for ecology is more important now more than ever.

“I think teaching kids to appreciate the nature around them and different biological processes, like pollination, will help them understand the importance of fighting against climate change,” said Bryce. “This is a current topic that we think it’s important for kids to understand and fight against since it will heavily affect their futures.”

To foster this appreciation from home, the camp is doing a number of things, including dropping off “camp-in-a-box,” a box filled with what the campers will need for the week in order to participate in the interactive activities, such as crafts, for the week.

“It would depend on the week but it’s going to be a lot of supplies,” said Bryce. “For example, for some weeks we will be planting so there will be little pots and soil and seeds for the kids to plant, with as well as pipe cleaners and tape for crafts.”

As for the lasting friendships and break for parents that camp normally provides, the staff of Eco-Adventure thought of that as well.

“One thing that we thought was really missing for the kids is the chance to interact and connect with their friends,” said Bryce. “One of our main goals this summer is to still be able to create connections between the campers.”

To do this, they will be doing a 90 minute group Zoom call with the campers in hopes of providing ice breakers, a teachable moment, and time for parents to have to themselves.

“Because we are virtual, we can’t provide 100 per cent supervision, but what we are aiming to provide is 90 minutes of supervision so parents can have a break,” said Bryce. “While their kids are occupied with us, we’re trying to create very engaging content that will keep them occupied without needing their parent’s help.”

And although the staff can’t take the campers to Elbow Lake themselves, Bryce encourages parents to take their kids to the public trails at the Lake or more locally around their homes to get up close and personal with the local ecology.

Because Eco-Adventure campers won’t be able to participate in the outdoor and in water activities the Camp normally provides, like the one pictured above, the staff are encouraging parents of campers to help their children access local trails and lakes as part of their virtual camp experience. Submitted photo.

Eco-Adventure Camp is offered to kids aged eight to 13 and is starting July 6th. It will cost $60 per week.

“It was a bit challenging coming up with programs to get kids outside when you’re on a computer,” said Bryce. “But we’re really excited about the content that we’ve created and we really hope that parents and kids enjoy, as well.”

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