We've already entered the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. It’s not to late to think about childcare! Here’s an option we think you should consider: virtual summer camps in 2022!
Yes, we all remember the exciting summer morning when our parents dropped us off a short drive away from home at a summer camp. We got to bunk up with our best friends for a week, sing all of our favorite camp songs, and build skills in arts, crafts, sports, and science. In some ways, nothing will replace those memories and experiences.
This year, instead of having your child spend their summer in a tent outdoors — or a lackluster day camp — consider enrolling them in a virtual summer camp instead. Virtual camps are an exciting new way for children to have fun and learn over the 8-week summer break.
With the popularity of virtual reality predicted to rise in society in general, it's no surprise that many schools and educational institutions have taken advantage of new technologies to educate students better. One such innovation is the use of 'virtual' summer camps to engage and educate students. In addition, they are making curriculums that are difficult to coordinate in real life more accessible through VR technology.
In 2020, most summer camps were canceled due to the pandemic, and many organizations scrambled to find ways to deliver their programming online. As a result, one report published by the American Camp Association (ACA) noted that camps recognized virtual programming as a positive recruitment method and an opportunity to provide programs year-round. One surveyed camp-runner said, "I didn't think it was possible, but I had campers crying on the last day of Zoom camp because they didn't want it to end."
Since then, free virtual summer camps’ 2021 season grew further in popularity. As a growing trend, the online experience of summer camp may be here to stay.
A virtual reality summer camp can allow kids and teens to get involved in all sorts of activities without leaving home. Some programs offer academic classes, while others are more focused on sports or artistic endeavors. Whatever your child's interests, there is probably an online camp to match them.
At Kai XR, we’re passionate about connecting kids with educational experiences through the power of technology. We use cutting-edge 360 technology allowing students to imagine themselves in new environments around the world. Through experiential learning students enhance their ability to ask questions, make decisions, and draw conclusions. We’re a lot like summer camp but we’re available year-round!
As part of our mission to break educational barriers and make emerging technology accessible, showcasing the benefits of virtual camp is important to us! This article will talk about the many reasons a virtual summer camp could be your best option. We'll provide program recommendations along the way!
Why Choose a Virtual Summer Camp
Anyone who has been to a summer camp or sent their children to summer camp knows the many benefits of participating. You get a little extra quiet time around the house for a week, and your kids get to make life-long friendships and build new skills.
The American Camp Association (ACA) describes the benefits of summer camp in the four "C's" of the camp community:
Children who participate in summer camps develop empathy for their peers, learn to contribute positively to their group, understand commitment in lasting the whole week away from home, and build character through their experiences. These are the kind of children who grow to become caring and capable adults.
Virtual summer camps share the same benefits of virtual field trips. A study conducted by the ACA found that most often, students and parents reported positive outcomes following camp attendance, including increased confidence and self-esteem, better social skills, development of leadership skills, and an increased interest in adventure.
In a pre-COVID world, it would be hard to imagine how a virtual summer camp could outshine the bunk beds and campfire stories, but in a post-pandemic world, there's proof of the benefits of going virtual everywhere!
In addition to the many benefits an in-person camp has, virtual camps also have their own unique set of benefits:
- Reducing the "summer slide"
- Promoting continued childhood skills development
- Reducing the cost of sending children to camp
- Making camp accessible for children with disabilities or sensory issues
Avoid the "Summer Slide"
The coined term "summer slide" is also known as summer learning loss. Researchers have found that students' achievement scores decline over summer vacation, especially math and reading. There is also evidence that lower-income students suffer learning loss even more than others. And while there's a lot of debate about the actual severity of the phenomenon, nobody can deny that students who do not utilize the skills they learned in the previous school year over the summer are bound to lose some level of understanding and absorption.
Summer camps, especially those that emphasize STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) programming, can help reduce the "summer slide" impact. Some programs focus on specific age groups. In contrast, others focus on a particular subject area, such as coding or robotics.
Virtual online summer camp allows students to learn at their own pace, giving them more time to master concepts before moving on to new topics. They also enable students to collaborate with other students around the world without leaving their homes or classrooms. This can help students develop critical social skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
You may be asking, are online virtual summer camps more effective in traditional hands-on subjects? Research points to yes. While it does take more effort, one study found that teaching engaging laboratory courses online can provide the same learning opportunities as onsite learning. Another study surveyed 291 high school students in a college-prep STEM virtual summer camp. Students reported that they found the Project SEED programming useful and learned a lot from the webinars. Overall, students agreed they were glad they participated in the virtual camp.
So whether your 6th grader needs to retain the basics of biology or your 11th grader is searching for their next step in their education and career, an educationally-focused virtual summer camp could be the best option!
Here are a few educational summer camps we recommend checking out:
- Kai XR's Virtual Field Trips (all ages) - Students can explore various 360 virtual field trips with STEM topics like DNA, aerospace engineering, the human body, and more.
- iD Tech (all ages) - iD Tech provides world-class STEM education centered around coding languages for websites, gaming, and more.
Summer Camp is Beneficial for Childhood Development
Summer camp programs vary widely, but they all have one thing in common: they give kids something fun to do during the summer months while encouraging them to continue building their skills.
Summer camp is beneficial for childhood development. It offers kids the chance to experience independence and learn how to interact with other children their age. There's also a lot of creativity and play in these camps, which is great for kids who need extra time to explore their interests and passions.
Here are some of the areas where summer camps help children grow:
- Improve social skills
- Provide mental stimulation
- Develop independence
- Learn to work with others
- Develop leadership skills
- Increase self-confidence
- Develop a better understanding of nature and the environment
Kids who attend summer camps tend to develop better social skills than those who don't. This is because they interact with others more frequently than during the school year, which helps them build confidence and form relationships with other children their age. While there's not as much facetime in a virtual camp, some camps set up their programming with this in mind. By setting up shared spaces and breakout video calls, students can engage in virtual social emotional learning activities.
Mental health is another critical aspect of childhood development that parents should recognize. Children who participate in various activities often report feeling happier and more confident than those who don't engage in any extracurricular activities at all. Summer virtual camps offer plenty of opportunities for kids to explore new hobbies while learning valuable life skills.
Camp counselors can also help teach kids how to overcome challenges and achieve goals by setting realistic expectations for themselves that they can work towards throughout the week at camp.
Finally, a virtual summer camp is also the perfect place to develop 21st-century learning skills. The 21st-century skills framework focuses on life and career, learning and innovation, and information, media and technology skills. These are all areas of strength required by the modern-day workplace. By intermingling the benefits of traditional summer camps focused on leadership and learning and the technological and innovation elements of a virtual summer camp, you're setting your kid up for a successful future.
Virtual Camps Can Lower Costs for Parents
In summer 2022, the ACA reports that camp fees are expected to jump 10-15%. They estimate that the average price of summer camp per day adds up to $178.49. In addition, a sleep-away camp will average $448.53 per day. Ouch!
Fortunately, many programs offer scholarships or financial aid so that low-income families can afford this type of camp experience for their children. This can be especially helpful if your child has special needs that require extra help from professionals at the program site or if you live far away from the physical location of the camp itself.
One of the most significant benefits of virtual camps is that they lower the cost of sending your child to camp. In contrast to day- or overnight camps, most virtual camps charge less than $500 per semester, which is much more affordable for many families. Going virtual will also reduce transportation costs, a big win in today's fuel economy. As long as you have the proper equipment to tune in, an online summer camp is significantly more affordable than a traditional summer camp.
If $500 sounds like a steep investment, there are affordable options out there:
- Kai XR Virtual Field Trips ($9.99-$39.99/month) - For a small monthly fee, your family can access a growing library of educational VR field trips, covering a wide range of topics including Mayan Temples, wind farms, Civil War. You can also access the new virtual makerspace! You can even create a custom camp experience using a calendar of virtual field trips for families. A free trial is available to start.
- Smithsonian Summer Camp ($95-$195/session) - Access the Smithsonian's top educational resources on ecosystems, space, military history, and underwater environments.
Virtual Camps are More Accessible
Virtual summer camps offer a fantastic opportunity to learn outside the classroom and can be an excellent option for students with special needs. Whether they have a physical disability or struggle with sensory issues, virtual summer camps allow everyone to participate in activities that might not be available at regular camps.
Many virtual camps offer services such as sign language interpreters and braille instructors so that all students can fully take part in the activities provided by the program.
Because some camps are asynchronous (not live), students with disabilities are welcome to learn at their own pace. Many children with or without disabilities have difficulty concentrating on things they find boring, which makes it hard to focus on traditional schoolwork. Virtual summer camps allow students to work at their own pace, allowing them to move on when they feel ready and not when their teacher says they should move on.
Finally, summer virtual camps encourage social interaction with other students without being overwhelming. Students with sensory issues often struggle socially because they feel like they don't belong or fit in anywhere else but home or school. As a result, they may become overwhelmed by other elements in their environment and struggle to engage. Virtual camps allow students to interact with other kids who share similar interests and experiences in the safety of a controlled environment.
Some of the most popular virtual camps that are accessibility-forward include:
- Kai XR Virtual Field Trips - Our platform enables students to explore interactive 360° educational content from various screens. Suppose a virtual headset is too overwhelming for a student with sensory issues. In that case, they can opt for Exploration Mode on a VR tablet instead.
- Camp BuddEConnect - A student-led organization that offers kids with special needs the opportunity for social interaction, physical activity, personal connection, and fun!
Finding the Best Virtual Summer Camps
By now, it's hard to deny the clear benefits of signing up for virtual summer camp 2022. These camps are an ideal opportunity to reduce summer learning loss, develop your child's social and learning skills, and reduce the costs and challenges of in-person camp.
When finding the right option for your child, we have a few recommended considerations:
- Area of Focus
Area of Focus
Do you want a STEM-based or liberal arts-based camp? Maybe you want one centered around social skills. Figure out what will be most engaging for your child. Virtual summer camps for teens will vary greatly from virtual summer camps for kids.
Virtual camps come in many different formats. You can choose between asynchronous and synchronous programming. Webinars or videos. 2D or Virtual Reality-based. The list goes on. Ensure you have the right equipment for the camp you want to choose.
How much money do you have to spend? Figure out your budget and search for programs within that range. There are so many free virtual summer camps!
How much time does your child want to spend at summer camp? Lengths vary greatly, from 3-day crash courses to month-long programs. With shorter camps, you could plan a variety of focuses. But if you have a busy summer, you may want to stick with a week.
Enjoy an Endless Summer
Would you like virtual educational programming year-round? You might want to consider Kai XR's virtual field trips. Families and small groups can get started with an annual subscription starting at $99 annually. Your membership provides access to all Kai XR field trips, Kai XR customer support, and special offers.
We believe our platform is the future of education, a way to empower students to build the future they want to see. Through experiential, immersive learning, children can tinker, test, toy, and explore new experiences from across the globe. Start a free trial to discover for yourself!
If you're an educator looking for a way to provide a summer camp to your students, Kai XR can also support you! Kai XR is perfect for libraries, STEM/STEAM centers, after-school programs, and schools. We also offer discounts to Title-1 schools and nonprofits. Our Voyager package includes virtual field trips, professional development for educators, metaverse curriculums, and 24/7 support. All you have to do is schedule a demo to get started!
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