The last two months I’ve had the joy of working with the team at Connected Camps and wanted to share some insights to help parents choosing an online summer camp for their child.
As a parent to 11 and 8-year-old children, I’ve seen first-hand how playing games with their friends has made a big, positive impact on their lives. They’re able to still connect with friends who’ve moved away, are kept at home due to quarantines, or friends who live across town. Playing games like Minecraft and Roblox have helped my children tap into their creativity, work on problem-solving, and it’s an interest that I can be involved in.
The games our children play open up tremendous opportunities, and open their eyes to the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – also known as STEM.
In addition to being a great organization, parents like me have found that it’s a wonderful fit for young girls and boys who want to have fun and learn in a safe, educational environment.
Connected Camps is a Mission-Driven Non-Profit
Connected Camps is a non-profit with equity at the center of its mission to “to build a global online community where kids build, code, play, and learn from one another.”’
Not all school districts have the financial means to give quality STEM instruction to their students. Connected Camps runs a lean virtual organization in order to keep costs and prices low. They make high quality enrichment accessible to more families by offering programs at much lower prices than for-profit providers of project-based STEM camps.
Connected Camps is committed to hiring counselors who expand kids’ ideas of who belongs in STEM. It’s exciting to see Connected Camps hire young women and men with a wide variety of educational, professional, and socioeconomic backgrounds. They pride themselves on having counselors who attend great schools, but more importantly are STEM role models with a passion for mentoring young people.
One of the challenges discussed in the STEM community is access. Connected Camps has received grants from a variety of foundations to offer free programs through schools and libraries. This includes offering esports coaching in public schools through the National Scholastic Esports Federation, and partnering with the Seattle Public Library to offer STEM lessons.
Camp Counselors & Peer Mentorship
The Internet allows students from anywhere in the world to participate in camps, and it also enables camp counselors from all backgrounds to help lead the fun at their online camps. Many organizations had to make a switch to become pandemic-proof, but not Connected Camps! That’s how they’ve always worked – from their own home offices, while students enjoy camps in the safety of their own homes.
Vetted, Background Checked, Mentored & Trained
It’s great to see Connected Camps encouraging teens to volunteer. Their online Teen Volunteer Program is one of the places where Connected Camps seeks out future camp counselors. In this program, high school students volunteer a few hours per week by working alongside current counselors in a virtual environment. It provides a unique opportunity for teens to earn volunteer hours while preparing for a potential future role as a Connected Camps counselor.
This program is a fantastic opportunity for young men and women to receive mentorship and training, while working towards potentially getting hired on as a camp counselor!
Safety is vital when working with children in an online setting, so anyone being considered for a counselor role undergoes a thorough background screening.
Connected Camps is an Inclusive Environment
It’s refreshing to see that Connected Camps places an emphasis in hiring a diverse, talented and intelligent team of counselors who are great with kids.
Children from all backgrounds attend these camps; boys and girls of every race, ethnicity and socioeconomic background. Parents with children on the Autism spectrum have given positive feedback on how their children enjoyed camps, as well.
Camps Just for Girls
All camps are co-ed, except for a few. Surveys and studies have shown that women are underrepresented in STEM. As a father to an ambitious young lady, it’s exciting to see a camp that is aimed at helping raise her confidence by growing her skills. One of the ways that Connected Camps is working on increasing female representation in STEM is by launching camps designed specifically for girls in the subjects of Coding and Engineering using Minecraft. In these camps, one of Connected Camps’ female counselors works with female campers so they can see that STEM is for girls, too!
Wide Variety of Topics
Children who enroll have a wide variety of the types of camps they can choose to participate in. Camp topics include: Arts, History, Astronomy, Architecture, Zoology, Coding, Engineering, Game Design, and Esports.
There are many online camps to fulfill a wide array of interests within Connected Camps. With such a wide variety of topics available, there is something available for all children to be able to enjoy.
Instead of packing a lot of kids into a virtual environment, Connected Camps limits the number of attendees to each camp. In order to maintain the maximum amount of personal attention possible, camp enrollments stay small.
Connected Camps Is Gaining Attention
The last couple of years as Connected Camps formed partnerships with organizations like the Seattle Public Library, North America Scholastic Esports Federation, Building Blocks for Kids, and MindFoundry. Partnerships with large organizations help Connected Camps reach groups that are underrepresented in STEM, as well as offering scholarships and grants for camps.
Organizations like the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, Real Simple, and Pivotal Ventures have featured Connected Camps as a resource for parents to send their children for their summer camps.
Please take a few minutes to read the parent testimonials to get a glimpse into the experience that campers receive with Connected Camps.
With Connected Camps, it’s more than just an online summer camp. It’s some much-needed downtime for parents while their children enjoy a fun, educational, social experience!
At the end of their week of camp, you may see that your child has an increase in confidence, love for technology, and that they made some new friends – all in the safety and comfort of their home.
To enroll your child in a camp, check the camp schedule and get them started while spots are available.