By David Markham
With all the strangeness of the past year, who hasn’t felt a little powerless at times? The theme for JCPRD’s 2021 Camp Guide, “I Have the Power,” acknowledges that even when we are way outside our comfort zones, all of us – even kids – are stronger than we think and still have the power to be kind, to be happy, to have a great attitude and make good choices, and to engage in camps and lead others to do the same.
Online listings for JCPRD’s 2021 summer camps are now online, and printed copies of the camp guide will be mailed and available after Jan. 27 at all JCPRD facilities and Johnson County libraries.
Camp registration begins Monday, Jan. 25, and the sooner you sign up, the more choices will be available. Most full-day camps offer sessions beginning weekly from June 7 to Aug. 2. Other camps start throughout the summer, around the county, and with programs offered for ages three through 18.
Several camp programmers shared their interpretations of the “I have the Power” theme.
“I like the idea that not all ‘heroes’ rush into burning buildings,” said Children’s Services Specialist Maureen O’Grady. “Some tie someone else’s shoes or cheer them up when they are having a terrible day. Some help someone else connect to a Zoom meeting. We have all had to tackle stuff WAY outside of our comfort zone, both mentally and physically.”
“‘I Have the Power’ means we are able to slowly get back some of the things in life that we once took for granted,” added Children’s Services Specialist Lisa Hughes. “We have the power to offer fun, safe camp opportunities, and families have the power to choose JCPRD to provide that to their children. We have the power to slowly get some normalcy back in our lives this summer.”
“I have witnessed firsthand how summer camps allow children to feel empowered through new exciting experiences, improved self-confidence, and new-found friends,” said Outdoor Education Specialist Andrea Joslin.
“Camps give kids the tools and resources to think creatively, develop confidence, and social and emotional well-being,” added Theatre and Performing Arts Coordinator Elena Stephenson. “These are the tools that make kids’ lives ‘better’ and equip them to ‘have the power.’ We also have learned that arts education is integral for social and emotional wellbeing. Kids need an outlet to create and express themselves and camps at the arts and heritage center do just that.”
Lessons learned during 2020 camps give programmers confidence in their ability to safely deal with the ongoing pandemic while presenting fun programs.
“2020 was a good guiding post for camps during a pandemic,” Stephenson said. “I am proud to say JCPRD staff at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center safely and successfully executed ten-plus weeks of summer camps, totaling almost 600 participants, with no COVID exposures. Masks were worn, temperatures were checked, and surfaces and hands were sanitized. It’s hard to say if we will have similar protocols and where we will be at this summer, but we are prepared to implement such protocols if needed.”
“We are very proud of how we handled the changes necessary to provide care during the pandemic in 2020,” Joslin added. “This summer should be easier for us to plan for because COVID-19 protocols are already in place. Although we feel we did an excellent job preparing for and dealing with the constant changes in 2020, we will be much more prepared to offer another fun, enriching summer camp season in 2021.”
“We learned that we can safely offer camps to children by having staff wear masks at all times, extra handwashing/sanitizing, disinfecting more frequently, and doing daily temperature checks,” Hughes said. “I am excited for this year’s camps because I want to offer some fun activities away from home since many children have been cooped up for so many months now. Children need to socialize just like adults and there is no better place to do this than in a summer camp!”
“2020 taught us all of creative ways we can have fun while learning at the museum,” added Johnson County Museum Curator of Education Leah Palmer. “We look forward to taking those lessons into 2021 and creating a unique experience for our campers.”
Camp offerings include full-day programs and partial-day programs serving a variety of interests. For the convenience of working parents, most full-day programs provide supervision and self-directed activities from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
In all, more than 75 separate camp programs are being offered this year, ranging from fine and performing arts, nature, science, leadership, sports, and many more! There are seven entirely new camps for 2021, as well as lots of new topics, ideas, and locations at many existing JCPRD camps. New offerings include: Sweet Summer Creations Camp, Get Crafty Camp, Dare to Dance Camp, Screenplay to Screen Camp, Adventure Photography Camp, Outdoor Basics Camp, and Outdoor Celebration Camp. Several additional summer camps will be listed in the May through August program information, online the week of March 22.
Remember, summer camps are consistently some of JCPRD’s most popular offerings of the entire year.
“It’s going to be an incredibly fun summer,” Stephenson said. “We have camps for all ages, pre-K to 18! Don’t wait to register as camps fill quickly!”
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