This is our 45th Anniversary at Camp Winnarainbow. When we had to make the final decision to close our sleepaway camp due to State and County restrictions we asked ourselves, how can we put our good where it does the most in this pandemic? How can we get kids outside and engaged together in physically safe ways to support their social, emotional, mental and relational health? What if we could pull off Winnarainbow Day Camp?
And we are! Our staff has worked tirelessly to translate key elements of our familiar resident camp into the new mandated COVID-wary day camp structure. These elements included free choice, community gathering, collaboration, skill building, and an end-of-the-session community celebration.
WHAT FREE CHOICE LOOKS LIKE WHEN WE’RE IN A PANDEMIC
At our resident camp program, campers get to choose between 14 class options twice every morning. We also offer optional classes during afternoon free time. Over the course of a session, campers can sample a wide variety of skills and ultimately settle on one or two skills to focus on for the Big Show. For our day camp structure, it is mandated that we keep campers in discrete groups of twelve. This makes our usual individual free-choice model impossible. It DOES allow us to decide as a group all the fun things we’d like to do.
In order to preserve the spirit of free choice, we have developed a “Focus and Variety Plan”. Our Day Camp model will ask each camper to decide on a Focus, which their entire group will share, while still having a wide variety of activities to engage in each day. The groups Focus will be their theme for the three-week program but they will also have opportunities to try a variety of activities.
THE FOCUS AND VARIETY MODEL
Before their session begins, campers choose a Focus based on their interests. We will then place them into groups of 12 – considering requests for friends to be in the same group (they have to choose the same Focus though) and placing kids from the same household together. The four broad skill areas, or Focus’ are circus and movement, visual art, music, or drama. The point of the Focus is allow campers to explore their interests in new and deeper ways. They will also contribute to a final performance piece. For example, campers in the visual art track would spend an amount of time working on art and set design for the final show, but would also get to go hiking, attend West African Drum class, try unicycling, go to a water carnival dance party, etc. as a group.
Our focus will also remain on building community and helping kids learn skills that will help them in life, such as how to compromise, how to speak up in a group, decision making, how to listen, how to make mistakes and repair them and how to be silly and have fun.
THE BIG SHOW
At Camp Winnarainbow it is our tradition to have the “Big Show” at the end of every session where campers can perform the skills they learned for their grown-ups. This is always a very exciting and emotional event. At this time, we don’t know if we will be able to have a large gathering. Our alternative plan to preserve this rite of passage is to create a movie. The sets will be created be the visual art pod, the soundtrack will be created by the music pod, the circus and movement pod will provide stunts, and the drama pod will act. Camp has a decade-long history of creating smaller-scale camp movies. Converting our Big Show into a movie will be a natural combination of two camp traditions.
Due to running Camp and the time it takes to edit Camp movies, it will most likely be available to families 3 to 4 weeks after camp ends. But won’t that be fun, to receive a copy in the mail to enjoy together?
PROPOSED ACTIVITIES (a finalized list will be out in a week)
Circus and Movement Focus
- Stage Combat
- Tight Rope
- And more…..
Visual Art Focus
- Set/Prop creation
- Pop up scene creation
- Possibly printmaking
- Textile art
- Fashion art
- Video filmmaking
- And more….
- Playing instruments (maybe forming a band?)
- WestAfrican Drumming
- Music appreciation
- And more….
- Script writing
- Possibly puppetry
- Video filmmaking
- And more….
General activities that are a part of our Day Camp program include: hiking the beautiful 80 acres that we’ll be on, weekly “special events”, games, hanging out and getting to know each other, performing acts of kindness, daily snacks, trying something new, All People’s Day – a space to talk about our world today and learn from each other.