Day camps are vital to communities as a safe resource for families to keep kids moving, learning, and playing once school is out for the summer. Unfortunately, camp was not in session in 2020. PBS39 recognized this gap and began creating an alternative for families, to help kids discover new things and stay curious about the world around them. We also hoped to give parents a break each day, even if it was only for 30 minutes.
Along with 10 community partners, including Martin Guitar, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Valley Youth House, the Wildlands Conservancy, the Da Vinci Science Center, National Museum of Industrial History, two local Intermediate Units, and ArtsQuest, PBS39 began producing 11 weeks of “It’s Camp! Live from Camp Fowler” as a virtual alternative to in-person summer camps.
Throughout the late spring and early summer, PBS39’s production team collaborated with these organizations to create segments that touched on STEAM learning, art therapy, mindfulness, and physical activity. While social distancing made it impossible for kids to play a game of kickball or make friendship bracelets together, PBS39’s broadcast brought these activities into their homes.
For nine weeks, the PBS39 crew traversed the Greater Lehigh Valley to film these lessons and turn them into daily, half-hour programs for broadcast. We also included a weekly digital activity guide and resource list detailing what kids and parents needed to get involved and create their own art or science experiments.
Camp counselors taught viewers about dinosaurs, fishing, kickboxing, yoga, cooking, gardening, caring for themselves and others, kayaking, orienteering, and more. Kids also got the opportunity to sing around a campfire every Friday with two musicians.
We created an online media resource kit for our partners and others who were interested in helping us promote the show. It included logos, social media posts, sell sheets, handouts, press releases, and more.
This initiative had both tangible and intangible benefits for our community. We have been able to reach thousands of local children each week through our on-air programming, live-streaming, and video resources. Since its debut on June 9, we estimated that 200 to 300 kids were watching every day on television, and about 2,000 people have visited and watched the videos on the “It’s Camp!” web page. The weekly activity guide has been downloaded approximately 2,500 times.