With day camps in the city in limbo and cuts happening in the city budget, a Bronx charter school is moving forward with hosting virtual summer school sessions and summer day camp.
The camp, which started on July 6, is hosted by Urban Dove, a school that focuses on at-risk youth and transfer students. The school is paying high school counselors from their own pocket and accommodates campers ages 6 to 7 and 11 to 13.
Instead of their usual camp, which they held every summer, kids will be enrolled in an online program where they participate in educational projects in the morning and then fun activities in the afternoon.
Jaden Dubois has been attending the camp for three years, but wasn’t sure what to expect this summer. 13-year-old Dubois of the south Bronx, is an eighth grader at P.S./M.S. 31 at 250 E. 156th St.
“I was honestly surprised when I heard that we were going to do it this year,” he said. “It’s provided me with some enjoyment and some comfort.”
Dubois, who describes himself as an “indoors type of guy,” is enjoying the activities the camp is offering. So far, they have done Simon Says, a singing game and the five second game, where they name as many people in a category in five seconds.
During the first week the kids did a lot of traditional ice-breakers and team building activities that have been adapted to the virtual experience, such as a combination of “Heads Up Seven Up” and “I spy.” The kids also do physical activities like rotations of jumping jacks and push ups. They’ve done sock “bowling” and soccer and basketball using items the kids have found around the house.
The camp also sent art care packages to the kids, which include construction paper, card stock, yarn, scissors, mason jars, art supply sets, Popsicle sticks and googly eyes. They will also get a mini-basketball and jump rope.
The virtual camp, also allowed teens to stay employed this summer. Selina Bishi is camp counselor for the first time, but worked with kids in an after school program this past year.
While she was a bit apprehensive at first, she is now at ease because it seems everyone is enjoying the experience.
“I didn’t know if I was going to like it at first,” she explained.
Her campers are ages 11 to 13 and she has done her best to get acclimated with the kids and make sure they are comfortable with one another and virtual camp.
After being shuttered inside for four months, this at least provides some type of stress relief, she said.
“They’re very anxious to leave the house, but we try our best to keep them engaged,” she said.
Raven Furs, a head counselor, has been with the camp for 10 years. She told the Bronx Times some of the planned activities for the kids included yoga, a scavenger hunt, acting out a scene from a famous movie or TV show and a puppet show.
Overall, the children have adapted to virtual camp and are having fun, she said.
“The response we have gotten is that a lot of our kids are really excited,” Furs said. “We found a way to make it work for them at home.”