Creating an Inclusive Virtual Camp
This toolkit will guide you on how to turn your camp into an inclusive virtual experience for all campers.
Inclusive Virtual Camps
Virtual opportunities are becoming more and more common, and this opens up a whole new world of access and inclusion for people with a disability. With transportation and site accessibility no longer in the way, more kids are able to participate than ever before when you turn camp into a virtual experience. Deciding to take your camp virtual can give access to more participants and break down barriers for many with a disability.
This toolkit will provide you with the information needed to turn your summer camp into a virtual camp and deliver a high-quality inclusive experience for all of your campers.
Picking a theme
When picking a theme, take time to think about what type of event you're planning. Ask yourself six questions:
1. What is the goal and purpose of your event? For example, a Nature Camp may help individuals explore and be active in an outdoor setting.
2. Who is your target audience? Note the age range, hobbies, or interests.
3. How many days is the event?
4. Are there any major holidays, sporting events, or pop culture events taking place that you could incorporate?
5. What is your budget?
6. Does your theme consider staff and participants’ cultural beliefs?
After you have reviewed these questions and gathered your answers, hopefully you have a few ideas in mind of a theme to fit your event. Make sure when picking your theme that you can facilitate it both in-person or virtually. There are also a lot of resources out there with themes that you can scroll through to get ideas that align with the answers to your questions above. Be sure to pay attention to any themes or names that may be trademarked.
Not all resources and space accessibility are created equal when you move a camp into a home. As you create your program, you will need to consider internet usage, the physical environment, and the child's access to a parent or guardian during the camp.
Consider the following:
1. Internet Usage: Will the camper be using a tablet, phone, or desktop? Consider wifi or limited data.
2. Physical Environment: Can the camper navigate the space independently while participating in activities? Think of the amount of space needed.
3. Guardian Access: Can the camper perform the activities alone or will they need assistance?
Never assume what your participants have access to and do not. If equipment will be needed, it should be provided.
When taking budget needs into consideration, plan like your participants don’t have any of the materials needed to complete each task. There are many websites you can bulk order from at a discounted price. If your organization is a nonprofit, you can even try registering your future purchases to be tax exempt. You could also partner with organizations that offer grants or supplies.
Once you know your theme and what activities you want to include in your event, reaching out to partners in the community who may be proficient in a certain area can be helpful to making your event successful. They may be willing to exchange resources for advertisement or may even be open to donating equipment or being a guest speaker at no charge.
If you don't currently serve people with a disability, partnering with a disability organization would be a wise option.
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your program instruction booklet and its accessibility. When working in Microsoft programs or Google Drive, most applications have pre-made templates to choose from. Important pages to include would be:
• Welcome letter
• Table of contents
• Very detailed step-by-step directions written in simple language
• Photos or video of the activity and how to complete them
• Activity worksheet pages
• Blank pages for notes
• Contact information for key staff
Keep in mind it is more user-friendly to include a table of contents with all activities labeled with page numbers throughout the program booklet. It is also helpful to have multiple ways to distribute your program instruction booklet, offering at least a minimum of two forms including digital and hard copies to both participants and staff facilitators. A digital copy would be easier for someone who may use an e-reader or have a visual impairment; however, you will need to make sure it is in an accessible format as PDF's are often not readable by certain screen readers.
Communication with Participants
Think about how you plan to facilitate the event and what your communication will look like. Consider the following checklist below before running your event:
1. What platform will you use?
2. How often will you gather as a group?
3. Is the platform accessible, and do you know how to use it?
4. Did you ask for accommodation needs on your registration form?
5. How will you accommodate a missed call?
6. Is there someone available to answer questions throughout the event?
Steps for a Successful Camp
1. Know your audience
2. Create a theme
3. Establish a budget and seek funding
4. Purchase equipment
5. Marketing and registration
6. Distribution forms
7. Prepare and send packages
8. Follow up with participants
9. Have fun
10. Debrief with staff