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Transition to Virtual Summer Camp Expands Reach of Program

May 17, 2021

Summary
The Poe Center for Health Education hosts two week-long Healthy Habits Camp sessions every summer. Kids learn about the importance of nutrition and physical activity through classes, games, gardens, and hands-on cooking experiences. At Healthy Habits Camp, breakfast and lunch are provided through the summer meals program. Additional food tasting occurs with SNAP-Ed cooking activities.

Challenge
Following guidance from the state and the CDC, the Poe Center needed to modify the annual summer camp to ensure kids stayed connected, learned about nutrition and physical activity, and had nutritious food throughout the week. 

creating activity kits for pickup by camp participants: fruit and veggies in a plastic bag with a recipe attached
Creating the activity kits

Solution
In 2020, Healthy Habits Camp went virtual. In June and July, participants came to the Poe Center “drive-thru” to pick up breakfast and lunch provided by the Wake County Public School System, activity kits, and fresh produce from the Poe Center garden. Once at home, the youth had the opportunity to log into three classes a day and follow along with their activity kits.

image one: a bag of materials waiting to be picked up by participants; image two: 3 adults wearing masks stand socially distant from each other with camp materials to be picked up
Materials pick up was conducted via a contact-free outdoor drive through. All items that were reused were sanitized between each use.


“This was the BEST idea for an unprecedented situation!”


“How all activities that were given were set up so neatly and easy enough to complete the activities with the kids.”

 

There were 70 children, rising 1st - 5th graders, that registered for and participated in Healthy Habits Camp. In addition to these 70, when children participated in the online activities, they were rarely alone. Parents, guardians and siblings joined in on the fun.


“I liked how everything was well thought out and prepared. I loved watching my daughter engage with you guys. You helped instill another level of self-confidence. As well as discover some things she did not know she liked. Those who ran the zoom classes were very attentive and engaged with the children. It created a space of security encouraging them to engage, ask questions and most importantly learn. I truly enjoyed this week.”

a child participates in a zoom call with a plastic MyPlate in front of him
The children login and follow along with the virtual activities.


One family had a child with special needs who is not normally able to attend summer camp. The family was very appreciative that their child was able to participate in the virtual camp. 


“We have special needs children. It was so worth the drive for the amazing activities, creative meals, zoom calls, and the morning pick up started our day off great. We always have a variety [of food], so this helped reinforce in visual ways the importance of balance. The body activity & rainbow of foods handouts were awesome! They are on our kitchen walls.”

Of those who completed the evaluation, 96% said the camp was a good or great experience, 96% said their child was willing to try more fruits and vegetables, and 96% said they plan to make one of the snacks they tried at camp again.


“It was a great experience for my kids, they loved it and it gave them something beneficial and fun to do.”


“I really enjoyed the healthy interactions, snacks, and teachings that came from each session!!! She really enjoyed the trail mix and the fruit pizza! this was awesome. If you offer an in person camp next year, I think offering a separate zoom camp would be great also.”


Sustaining Success
The Poe Center is looking forward to having camp in person again but has and will continue to use this model for other SNAP-Ed activities. This has proven to be a way to reach families not just during the pandemic but also to increase reach in general. Evaluations were distributed at the end of the week to determine program success. SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework indicators include ST1, ST3, ST4, and MT1.


Contact Information
Author Name: Rachel Pohlman
Organization: Poe Center for Health Education, Raleigh NC 27610
Phone Number: 919-231-4006

* Quotes are from Healthy Habits Camp evaluations.