Since the beginning of YSM’s modified COVID service plan in March, YSM’s Tree of Life Homework Club staff had been connecting weekly with 41 children, and their families, all of whom were looking forward to a new camp experience this summer.
With the city moving to stage 2 re-opening, and to ensure the safety of campers, Tree of Life staff designed Taking Camp to the Kids, an innovative arrangement combining online and in-person activities.
After 3 months of isolation everyone was craving fresh air, physical activity and the company of others. Full of enthusiasm and ideas, the children helped plan their perfect camp experience over video calls.
From the excitement of simply seeing friends, to visiting animals at the Toronto Humane Society, touch-less soccer to picnics and hikes, the children shared their vision and staff incorporated much of it into their planned activities.
Following the regular Tree of Life theme of body, mind and heart, each child received a camp kit on their first day filled with supplies and resources required for activities – items such as sketchbooks, art supplies, cloth masks, water bottles and other surprises and treats! Three days a week, camp counsellors picked 10 children up from their homes and welcomed them to an outdoor space, with tents provided by generous donors. Campers enjoyed art, exercise, gardening and much more, all in the company of old and new friends.
The transition from being home for so long, back to the company of others in such a safe format gave campers time to get used to the “new normal” and allowed staff to help prepare kids for their return to school, easing the minds of many parents in the community.
The small groups provided opportunity for kids to connect with encouraging camp counsellors to work through their thoughts and emotions. Over the course of the summer, kids and families also created a time capsule and diary encompassing their experiences over the last few months as another way to process, together, all they’ve experienced.
Thanks to your support, Taking Camp to the Kids was custom designed for our community in the time of COVID and was a huge success!