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New York Colleges Take Academic Camps Online amid Crisis

The decision to take some academic camps online came after planning for the possibility earlier during the pandemic, officials said, with instructors asked to be flexible in adapting to the circumstances.

by Steven Howe, Observer-Dispatch / May 21, 2020

(TNS) — New York College campuses in the upstate area remain on lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic and the summer camps that would make them hubs of activity in the summertime are on pause.

At Utica College, all academic camps have been canceled and academic camps through July 31 are also shut down, said Christine Leogrande, director of media relations.

It's a similar situation at Hamilton College, which is at a minimal operating status. Summer camps and programs are currently suspended, said Vige Barrie, senior director of media relations.

At SUNY Polytechnic Institute, camps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — better known as STEM — will be held virtually this year, said Steve Ference, director of university communications. The camp leaders are currently creating a schedule for the camps, with more information in the coming weeks, Ference said.

Mohawk Valley Community College already has the framework in place to offer virtual camps, specifically focused on coding and science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, said Sara Vivyan, program specialist of College for Kids and Teens.

MVCC typically would be offering a lineup of 60-70 in-person camps in the summer, beginning on July 6 and running for six weeks, Vivyan said. This year, the available virtual camps will be divided into two age groups — 8-11 years old and 11-14 years old — with focus on Roblox, Minecraft modding and similar computer-based pursuits.

"So there's some of them that we've run on campus before and some new ones," Vivyan said.

Another in-person camp favorite, Kids in the Kitchen, will be heading online as well, though the details are being worked out. Other camps moving into the virtual space will center around Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars and similar topics.

The decision to take some of the camps online came after planning for the possibility earlier into the pandemic, Vivyan said. Many of the instructors are school teachers or professors at MVCC who have been flexible in adapting to the circumstances, she said.

"It's taken a little bit of work," Vivyan said. "It's gone really smoothly just because we have a wonderful group of instructors who have been with us for a long time."

With the social benefit of in-person camps off the table, Vivyan said camp instructors have been encouraged to hold ice breakers and other socialization so kids can still connect with new friends.

If the camp format is successful, online offerings may remain on the table in future years, Vivyan said.

"We will always keep our in-person camps, but we're kind of testing the waters to see if in addition to that, next year maybe we'll offer some online as well," she said.

©2020 Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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