Pearce Williams Summer Camp

Kids Can Explore the Magic of Summer Camp From Home

Ava Thompson

A local summer camp knows how to keep the camp magic alive...even from a distance. 

Self-isolation measures aren’t stopping Pearce Williams Summer Camp & Retreat Facility from having fun with their campers. Kids are invited to tune into a variety of live programming initiatives hosted by the camp on Instagram, Facebook and Google Meet. 

On their Facebook and Instagram pages, @campisbetter and @campityourself, children can find daily challenges that are keeping Pearce Williams staff, counsellors in training, campers, parents, and alumni enjoying camp activities all week long. 

At 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m., children can join Pearce Williams staff members for a variety of fun and engaging activities, such as sing-a-longs, pyjama and dance parties, and arts & crafts. 

Pearce Williams is a summer camp and retreat centre located in Fingal, Ontario. When summer rolls around, they welcome around 400-500 campers with open arms, teaching them important skills such as self-esteem, respect, tolerance, and friendship. 

Camp is a special place for children to create friendships, lifelong bonds and lasting memories. The impact that social distancing will have on young children has been of concern, as summer camps will possibly have to move online if the pandemic ceases to subside. 

Yet, Pearce Williams’ ‘campityourself’ mentality is addressing these concerns by providing an engaging outlet for children to have fun, be active, and create friendships from the comfort of their own home. The camp has seen over 80 campers tune into their most popular livestream initiatives on a weekly basis. 

“I think that school is often the meta, it serves as an opportunity for kids to communicate [with] other kids,” explained Lindsey Feltis, Camp Director at Pearce Williams.

“We just have to get creative in ways that we can teach kids social and emotional well-being [from home]...The social and emotional skills that we teach kids are some of the most important skills that they learn.”

Feltis recently completed her Masters in Developmental Psychology at Laurier University, and she is bringing her knowledge of mindfulness and well-being to Pearce Williams’ virtual camp experience.

Feltis has used virtual programming to provide campers with positivity during these trying times. Their 11:00 a.m. programming is dedicated to mindfulness, where children can take the time to reflect and ground themselves. 

While Pearce Williams is bringing the magic of summer camp to children during these strange and unprecedented times, this is something many parents are equally as grateful for. 

“Whenever we do activities we make sure that there is always a part that requires participation,” explained Feltis.

“Parents know that for the half hour or 45 minutes that we’re on live, they’ve got something going on that is entertaining and informative.”

The online initiatives also help provide structure to the lives of both campers and parents who are trying to find creative ways to stay occupied while social distancing. 

And anyone is invited to join in on the fun. 

“We would love to see new campers. It's also a really awesome way for people who haven’t been to camp to be able to experience some of the camp’s activities from the comforts of their own home” said Feltis.

“These times are hard, you know we’re isolating, it's different, it's unique, I think that it's impacting everyone and I think it will impact everyone long term. The kindness, the inclusion, the listening skills – those are all skills that we can teach virtually and we will be doing our best to address them in the programs that we’re doing.”

Feltis emphasized the importance of teaching these important social skills even as children transition to a virtual learning environment. While kids are navigating an online world, this also provides a great opportunity to teach them about Internet safety. 

“As technology grows and as we sort of do lean on technology more, I think it's also really important to talk about Internet safety,” Feltis elaborated. 

“Teaching new skills to kids, ensuring they know that, hey, when you’re online, what you say stays there for a really long time. So, we want to practice the same kindness and compassion that you would when you’re talking to someone in person.”

Pearce Williams’ virtual camp programming is set to continue well into the future. In the case that summer camps will be unable to run as normal, Pearce Williams is considering adding more sessions to their daily roster of activities and ensuring staff are properly trained to run virtual sessions. 

“I think that anyone who’s experienced summer camp knows the magic. The bonds formed at summer camps are deep, they’re magical,” said Feltis. 

The camp bonds normally formed in the summer are being nurtured through original and creative online initiatives. Transitioning online and discussing the current situation with children is difficult, but Pearce Williams offers a safe place for children to learn, explore, and connect with others.