If going outside is not an option, this article will help your community to create a memorable online camp for kids who are staying at home. Over the span of a week, kids will learn new moves, cook yummy snacks, and watch movies with their friends. All without leaving the house!
Things you will need (as camp coordinator or camp team leaders):
Getting your online camp started
In this case, we are planning a camp for 7 to 9 year-olds. We recommend having a team leader for every age group. In this case, we will have three groups with three team leaders. You can add activity coordinators (like Arts and Crafts teacher, or Singing coach) as admins as well, or choose to add them
Using your desktop, open a Zelos account and name it after the camp. In this case, our online camp will be called Morningside Champs. Create a unique password, so only the people who know it can join. In this case we chose “SPRINGTIME”.
Once it is open, ask your team leaders to join the space and make them admins so they can supervise the tasks that kids complete.
Creating online camp groups
Now we will create three groups: Polar Bears, Silver Koalas, and Mighty Pandas (or any other name you can think of!) using the Groups tab in Zelos.
Plan your activities using an Excel sheet, you can use several sheets depending on the age group of the participants. Here you can see the schedule for the Polar Bears (which is the group for 7-year-olds).
Setting up daily camp activities
For online camps, it is advisable to plan activities in blocks of 20 minutes to keep everyone’s attention. Make sure every camp team has enough offscreen time as well by setting up break times.
Create tasks on Zelos using your Excel list as a template, make sure to assign the task to the appropriate group and team leader. If you have additional team helpers for every kind of activity and assign them only the tasks they need to lead.
Set your tasks to be published every morning, and remind the kids to take them and mark them as complete everytime an activity finishes. This will help you to take track of most popular activities and you can reward kids with participation points for showing up.
In the case of Arts and Crafts, you can request the kids to take a picture of the artwork. This can help you to create a small camp report for the parents showcasing the kids artwork.
In the case of daily announcements, make sure to share those in your team workspace as well so everyone can check back on them if needed.
Create friendly competitions
Part of the experience of summer camps is to have friendly competitions. Reward the kids for completing tasks by giving out points for attendance. You can easily track results by creating a leaderboard.
Go to the Rewards section, and start creating leaderboards in seconds. We suggest creating a general one, and one per team. As they accept every task, kids will earn participation points and will start appearing on the scoreboard.
You can even add additional tasks for their spare time (such as drawing and sending a picture of it), to keep them busy and award extra points. You can also grant badges for these extras tasks, which you set up in the Rewards section.
How to involve parents in the online camp
Once all your tasks are ready and scheduled, send the parents an e-mail asking them to download the app on their kids phone, look up for your space, and join it using the password.
Don’t forget to also send the parents a grocery and material list (brownie points if you deliver everything to their homes beforehand).
And that’s it! The Zelos App will send the kids a notification of every activity as it begins. Since every activity will give out points (and you can give extra ones to the winners of the Karaoke Showcase for example), you will later be able to give special participation awards to the most active campers.
As you can see, with a little bit of planning you can turn a day camp into an online camp in no time. It might not be exactly the same, but it will offer kids an opportunity to make new friends, learn, and develop new skills no matter where they are.