Have you ever thought your kid spends too much time in front of the TV watching cartoons or playing videogames once school is let out? Summer is a time for kids to get outside and play with other kids, to make new relationships and to strengthen the current ones. Summer camps, however, are now very expensive and can be quite a burden to many parents.
Just this past week Maker magazine decided to partner with Google+ and create a virtual summer camp for kids who want to go to camp but may not be able to afford it, or find the transportation to and from. The virtual summer camp is 30 days long with themed days like Weird Science Wednesday. It’s an awesome idea. Kids can securely log into their computer and be entertained for an entire day, virtually interacting with fellow campers and counselors, learning how to create the project of the day. The camp is of very high quality, too. Maker reached out to high educational institutions, such as NASA and National Geographic, to help form the projects. It might not be out hiking in the woods by day and building a campfire by night, but this new camp definitely beats sitting in front of the TV all day.
Social media is more than just a way to create a camp, like Maker and Google have done, it is a way for parents to find camps, to connect campers throughout the school year, and a platform for parents to be “in contact” with their kids when they are away. Each kid is unique so finding the right camp, whether it is a 7-week sleep away camp or a day camp can be a challenge for parents. Campgurus.com is a site that can help parents find just the right camp/summer program for their kid. It is a location where many different summer opportunities are posted, giving parents the “one stop shop” experience.
Most parents are happy once their kids go away for the summer so they are able to get some “Me” time, but lets be real, everyone misses their children. Bunk1.com gives parents access to view pictures of their kids the camp uploads, and the ability to email their kid each day. It’s a great way to connect to the camp and follow the activities their kids are enjoying while seeing smiles of new friendships.
Once the kids return home from camp it’s important for them to keep in contact with their camp friends. I know from experience, camp friends are different than school friends; it’s a bond that is hard to explain unless you’ve been through it. More and more kids are connecting through Facebook and Twitter wishing friends happy birthdays, posting pictures from the summer and just telling one another that they miss each other. Camps are creating pages for their campers to “like” and keeping them up-to-date about what is in store for the coming summer. And the day they return home from camp at the end August, I can bet you many of them update their Facebook statuses to “I really do live 10 months for 2.”