Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Centre for Summer Camps and Programs

Our Kids is actively working to collect and share resources and examples to help camps manage marketing, communications and to find best practices during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have a resource or example you’d like to share, please contact us.

Contents:

  1. Marketing & Communication Tips
  2. Inspiration and Examples
  3. Resources

Featured:

WEBPAGE [Our Kids]

Virtual camps and programs guide

Visit our new Virtual Programs guide, for a look at both on-demand and registration required offerings member camps have recently released. The first part of our soon to launch Our Kids Virtual Learning Library.

CHAT [Go Camp Pro]

Connect with the camp community

Join the active Covid19+camp Slack group and add to the discussions about everything from operations and staffing to fundraising and contingency planning. Also bookmark the Covid-19 Camp MegaDoc available at zoic.ca/camps-covid-19

WEBINAR [American Camping Association NY & NJ]

The business of camp in uncertain times

Watch this Q&A recording as seasoned camp professionals address some of the most challenging business topics impacting camp related to COVID-19. Key issues addressed at a practical level.

1. Marketing & Communications

As the appetite for all forms of engagement is understandably high, now is the time for families to absorb information about your brand and offerings. Prospective families are going to be turning to online sources—such as your website and any other information they can find online, including OurKids.net—to determine what they should do next. Your approach to how you handle this crisis can have a significant impact on how a family perceives your camp.


Five tips for camp communications during crisis

Tip 1: Review your messaging

Double-check your messaging, visuals and tone. It’s a difficult time for everyone. Speak with more empathy and sincerity, and avoid the extremes of being too light-hearted or too scarcity-driven.

camp covid updatesAlso look at the images you’re using. Professional videos and images of crowds seem out of place and almost offensive in a world where most people are physically distancing. Sharing ‘memories’ or ‘past camp moments’ (Camp Tanamakoon example)  is one way to showcase ‘regular’ camp life through photos or videos.

Be sure your entire team has clear scripts on how to address questions regarding:

  • An updated health and safety policy
  • Registration and refund criteria and policies
  • Various outcome scenarios (if this… then we’ll do that)
    • Camp is not happening in person (possible Virtual Camp?)
    • Camp is happening, but shorter sessions/different dates
    • Camp is happening, but has a smaller limit on campers

“As camp professionals, we are experts at building optimism and community in the face of fear and uncertainty. Our experiences teach resilience, determination, kindness, and teamwork.”
Writes president of the ACA, Tom Rrosenberg in his uplifting open letter here.


Tip 2: Communicate openly and often with staff and families

Parents and staff will have lots of questions about your plans and what’s happening. Even if you don’t have all the answers, write down what you know and share it openly and often to keep all stakeholders in the know.

camp covid updates
  • Post an official release to your website and link to it from your homepage just as Camp Ramah has done here. Families who are looking for answers will expect to see it there.
  • Consider creating a COVID-19 Hub FAQ’s section online which can be updated. See how Pedalheads did this here. If you don’t have access to easily update your website, consider adding information to a Google Doc or Google Site you can hyperlink to.
  • Share your release with partners, such as Pedalheads did here on the Our Kids Newsfeed.

Remind parents, campers and camp staff their health and safety is the highest priority and that you’re planning for summer to begin as planned (if that is in fact the case). And remember to thank them for their support during this uncertain time.


Tip 3: Use video were possible

Video can connect with your audience on a more natural level. Leverage video and share your messages with short video clips from the director (or a spokesperson).  For current camp families, they’ll appreciate seeing you and your optimism during these difficult times. Camp Grey, a Catholic Camp of the Diocese of Madison shared their program update with current and prospective families using a simple but powerful video which is also featured on their homepage.

covid19 hub for camps


Tip 4: Showcase your camp community, virtually

Many camps and programs have created online offerings that foreground the camp culture.  Medeba instituted a daily challenge. Glen Bernard Camp hosted a Virtual VistaCamp Wenonah hosted an online campfire, as did many others. Camp Tamakwa engages both campers and staff with their baby face challenge. Camp Pathfinder did a great job aggregating all their resources onto one page.

Be sure to record any virtual events using available free technology—this is fantastic content that can continue to draw an online audience for years to come by posting to our Virtual programs hub and your website.

Additionally, Our Kids is preparing to launch a new section on the OurKids.net website that will showcase the resourcefulness and innovativeness of camps in this challenging time. In the meantime, please share stories of how you’re dealing with the Covid-19 situation with [email protected].


Tip 5: Use this time to collect testimonials

The authentic perspectives of your current community will play a key role in ongoing registrations and re-registrations (possibly for this summer, and definitely for next). Use this time to connect with camper families and collect testimonials about what they love most about camp.

You can add Stories and Testimonials to your Our Kids profile from campers, parents, and staff members. Feel free to add as many and as varied stories/testimonials to your profile as you can—this is truly a case of the more the merrier—and include interesting titles to engage readers. Our Kids will also be adding these to the camp review hub in the coming months.

camp reviews and testimonials

2. Inspiration and examples

In this space we’ll aggregate the best examples from camps and programs, along with ideas being shared for you to draw inspiration from. If you have something you’d like to add, please through our member support service here.

COMING SOON In the meantime, visit the Our Kids Virtual Programs guide

“Covid 19 won’t take camp away from us, our families and our friends. Let parents know today that CAMP IS ON NO MATTER WHAT. The ‘WHAT’ might be so awesome you’ll be talking about summer 2020 for years to come.”
Writes Eric Shendelman, Director at Crestwood Valley Day Camp and Past President of the Ontario Camps Association in his optimistic address.

3. Resources

Associations

COVID-19 Resources for Ontario Camps
By: Ontario Camps Association
The OCA is sharing the up to date information and resources on COVID-19 through their OCA Weekly, with resource links posted to their hub here.

COVID-19 Resource Center for Camps
By: American Camps Association
A compilation of resources categorized into 5 topics: Health and Safety, Camp Business, Staffing and Human Resources, Online Learning and Communications.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response
By: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Comprehensive online guide offers guidelines for American schools and day camps on page 45

COVID-19 Resource Center for Schools
By: National Association of Independent School
Although not a ‘camp’ association, NAIS has one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 portals with hundreds of examples and guides on operations, leadership and crisis management.


Talking to children

COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Talking to Children About the Pandemic
By: Ontario Ministry of Health
A resource from the Ministry of Health around messaging and communication during the pandemic and beyond

A Kids Guide to Coronavirus
By: The Daily, The New York Times
Children naturally have lots of questions about this situation. In this 30 minute podcast, the Daily tries to answer most of them.


Relief for small businesses

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
By: Government of Canada
A summary of measures announced by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario directed at supporting employees and employers in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre
By: The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
Answers to frequently asked questions about everything to keep you, your employees and your business safe.


Technology & Tools

Microsoft
To support the transition to virtual environments, Microsoft—with whom Our Kids has recently partnered—has developed a frankly impressive suite of resources. Although the tools were originally designed with schools in mind, they can work well for camps and programs.

camp covid updates
  • Microsoft Teams
    Teams is a virtual meeting platform that enables group discussion, collaboration, and program delivery. Online sessions can also include everything from group crafting activities, to counsellor training, to virtual classrooms.

  • Distance learning hub
    Microsoft has created detailed interfaces to ease and support the transition, including a quick start guide, best practicas and a useful guide for parents. On-demand webinar training also available here.

  • Shifting to distance learning - A 5 day guide
    This three-phase approach will help you shift to this secure and inclusive online environment that protects the data of the entire camp community.

Best Video Conferencing Software
By: G2.com
Review and ratings of the best free and paid video conferencing solutions for a multitude of use cases. Some of the products listed are great for 1-1 conversations, some for teams or lessons, and others for live broadcasts.

The 12 Best Team Chat Apps
By: Zapier.com
Team chat is similar to email, but its main benefit is that it keeps all your company’s communications in one place, making it easier for everyone to talk together with group or private chats. Here’s a the pros and cons of 12 popular apps.


ABOUT OUR KIDS

Our Kids is Canada’s guide to summer camps and programs. Trusted by more than 380 camps and used by nearly 3 million families annually, our goal is to help more families find more camps, more often. Click here to learn about adding your camp, along with all of your day, overnight (or virtual) programing, to OurKids.net and Camps.ca





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