Yukon University’s summer camp programs will be offered this year after plans received approval from the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMO).
Anya Zimmerman, the youth STEM outreach coordinator at the university, spoke with the News on June 8 about the YC Kids Camps.
The camps have a focus on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields as well as trades. There would usually be four camps offered in Whitehorse and one in each community in the territory with the exception of Old Crow, but this year will look different than usual.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university has cancelled all travel to the communities until the end of August, meaning all programming in the rural communities had to be cancelled.
“Our focus then went to Whitehorse and wondering what we could do to offer the kids camp programming here,” Zimmerman said.
The university reviewed the government’s guidelines for camps and put together an operational plan to be approved by the CMO as well as Health and Social Services. The university was given word of the approval on June 4.
The university had been preparing for the camps prior to the approval, Zimmerman said. The camps were designed to adhere to the health guidelines put in place by the CMO.
In previous years each camp consisted of approximately 20 people. This year, the university wanted to get 16 people per camp but that number is too large for current health guidelines.
This means, she explained, that there will be eight kids and two facilitators per camp. This keeps each group within the bounds of the 10-person maximum gathering size.
The health guidelines were sent out in a press release on June 8.
Large and mixed group activities will not take place. There will a bathroom as well as an indoor and outdoor space for each group.
There will be no materials shared between groups, and if anything needs to be reused, it will be disinfected first.
Each camp will support physical distancing whenever possible. Due to the age of some of the campers, physical distancing may not be enforced in all groups.
If a camper is experiencing flu-like symptoms, he or she will not be able to attend. Parents will have to sign a COVID-19 screening agreement before camp starts and be present when the screening process happens at drop off.
Due to the cancellation of camps in the communities and smaller groups, there will be more offered in Whitehorse, Zimmerman said.
“We’ve had to create more camps in order to accommodate currently registered participants,” Zimmerman said.
There will be six camps offered per week. Each day camp lasts one week, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Two of these camps centre on coding, with an introductory camp and an intermediate camp called Level Up.
One of the other camps is called Try the Trades Camp, where students can learn about various trades. This camp is held in partnership with Skills Canada Yukon.
Other camps include design, electrical engineering, earth discoveries, flight in space, and woodworking.
The camps are offered for children ages six to 14. Camp themes will change week-to-week depending on the age group. Most camps will have a single focus except Discover STEM, which has a variety of activities.
The purpose of these camps is to provide hands-on and age-appropriate activities for participants in these fields of study.
“We just want participants to be able to experience these different activities in new ways, outside of school and allow them to have other learning opportunities that they may not be otherwise be exposed to,” Zimmerman said.
She wants to inspire children to explore their sense of wonder and curiosities. She also wants to support kids with their own individual learning through rich educational experiences that are fun.
The camps will start on June 15 and will conclude on Aug. 14. Information about all the available camps and how to register is available on the university’s website.
Zimmerman said availability will also be shown on the website.
“We’re just very excited and so grateful that Kids Camp programming was approved for this summer and we’re really looking forward to seeing everybody at camp,” Zimmerman said.
Each camp will take place at the Ayamdigut campus in Whitehorse.
Should a registered participant develop any symptoms of illness, the registration fee is refundable provided notice is given at least one business before the camp in questions is set to begin.
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