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A Parent’s Guide to 2021 Summer Camps

If you’ve got kids in school, odds are you’ve had to deal with constantly wavering and unpredictable changes in school regulations – in person, remote learning, 50-50, 70-30, who knows anymore?! 2020 and 2021 have had us in constant anticipation of what’s to come, and parents deserve some serious recognition and respect for staying on the ball through all of this, because it has been far from easy. 

That being said, Summer 2021 is just around the corner! We can all look forward to some sunshine, warm evenings, and cold drinks. Kids everywhere are gearing up for the end of the school year, which means that parents need to start thinking about what options are available for their kids this summer. 

Covid Summer Camps 2021  

For Summer 2021 in Canada, parents have a whole spectrum of Summer Camp offerings to choose between, ranging from in-person, socially distanced, to completely virtual. There has been a trend for camps to conduct “scenario planning,” in which organizations have various offerings planned out and depending on the regulations that are in place when summer camps begin, they will proceed accordingly. 

There are four different Covid summer camp offerings that parents should be on the lookout for this summer: 1) virtual, 2) interactive, 3) hybrid, and 4) in-person. The following sections will go into the specifics for each of these Covid summer camp alternatives, as well as provide some summer camp examples in Toronto and Vancouver. 

Virtual Summer Camps

Arguably the safest and most practical solution to Covid summer camps is taking it completely virtual. There are a wide range of online summer camp programs available entirely online, ranging from single hourly classes to month-long courses.  

One of the most appealing benefits of virtual summer camps is the opportunity to take part from anywhere and potentially connect with kids and families from different cities or countries. The world is your oyster when it comes to online summer camps, as you are no longer limited to the camps that are within a reasonable driving distance, so you can choose a program in practically any subject area!

Virtual Summer Camp Example: Build a Biz Kids is a Vancouver-based organization offering virtual summer camps focused on developing foundational soft skills in kids aged 7-14, attracting families from all over North America. 

The Build a Biz Kids website shows all the summer programs that are available this summer, alongside course descriptions and the essential skills that kids will be developing throughout the course. 

For example, they offer some courses that are focused on entrepreneurial skill development, such as the “Start a Magic Toy Business” course, while others are targeted at more specific skills like the “Powerful Kids Public Speaking” course.

Interactive Summer Camps 

Another alternative that some organizations have been implementing is a more interactive model, in which the summer camp program itself will occur virtually, but the kids receive a package, kit, or goody-bag in the mail that contains the materials and/or equipment needed for the program/course.

This offering is typically offered if the camp requires kids to conduct experiments or complete projects and activities on their own for learning purposes, enhancing their overall experience, but likely requiring a certain degree of parental assistance. 

Interactive Summer Camp Vancouver Example: Genome BC is a non-profit research organization on Canada’s West Coast, facilitating and adopting genomics into society. Their Geneskool Summer Science Program allows students in grade 8 or above to do hands-on molecular biology and genetics experiments at home. The paid program includes a lab kit that is shipped to the students’ homes, which includes all the necessary materials and equipment.

Interactive Summer Camp Toronto Example: Little Robot Friends offers kids aged 7-10 years old the chance to either make their own video game at the “Game Makers” camp or explore sculpting in 3D and drawing with code at the “Art in Space Camp.” They mix computer-based activities with hands-on crafting (camp + kit), providing kids with an interactive experience.

Hybrid Summer Camps

Some summer camps are proposing a hybrid offering, meaning that roughly 50% of activities will be in-person, and the other 50% will be virtual. Various program providers split up the activities in different ways, but parents can typically expect a Day 1/Day 2 schedule, with both in-person and remote participation. 

This is in line with how the education system in many districts has chosen to regulate the numbers of kids in classrooms, allowing for effective social distancing and optimal learning during the pandemic. For example, the Vancouver School Board has specified that Summer 2021 Programs will be conducted in this hybrid format for students in grades 10-12. 

Hybrid summer camps are not as common as the other formats we discuss in this article, though it is worth it to mention as many in-person summer camps have made this an option if restrictions increase in their area. 

In-Person Summer Camps 

A number of summer camps providers are remaining optimistic as we get closer to summer 2021, keeping their camps in-person, while implementing the necessary rules and precautions to keep kids safe. These precautions may include:

  • Social distancing 
  • Mask wearing
  • Sanitization of surfaces
  • Frequent hand washing/sanitization 
  • Disinfecting supplies and equipment
  • No sharing of supplies 

In-Person Summer Camp Vancouver Example: UBC Camps provides kids aged 3 to 17 with a wide range of summer camps, ranging from adventure programs, art and music, as well as sport and recreation; all of them operating in-person for Summer 2021. They have increased their health and safety precautions significantly to reduce the spread of Covid-19. 

In-Person Summer Camp Toronto Example: Camp Robin Hood is a GTA-based, outdoor camp that is planning to provide in-person day camps this summer. They have implemented increased safety precautions, while also ensuring a fun and exciting summer camp experience for kids.