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SIU summer camps, programs go virtual this year

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- Many children look forward to going to summer camp each year and usually parents like the break too.

Southern Illinois University's summer camps and programs almost didn't happen due to COVID-19, but the university found a way to make it a reality.

Staff worked hard over the past few weeks to find ways to reinvent activities and put them online for participants.

Sarah VanVooren, Associate Director for the Student Center's Conference and Scheduling, says professors will host these programs on several online platforms allowing kids to participate safely from home.

Those include "My Courses" (normally used for SIU students to complete online classes), Zoom and online platforms from vendors.

The university is bringing back some of its most popular camps including its aviation course. But instead of going up in the air, campers will be given flight simulation software.

Art camps will also make a return but campers will be sent supplies and complete projects via Zoom.

There will also be STEM camps for elementary students all the way to high school students.

VanVoreen says STEM activities get kids out of the house and gives them a challenge.

"Those will happen through my courses online and they are really cool because they are project-based and online learning, she explains. "So, they are going to prompt the campers to look for things that maybe in their backyard or in their neighborhood to do projects with."

There are also continuing education courses for high school students to focus on stress management, mindfulness and resume writing.

New this year, is an American sign language camp for students in 2nd through 5th grades.

VanVoreen says even though the camps and programs are online that all the benefits are still there.

"They will get to interact with other people," she adds. "Really developing what could be some lifelong skills or skills in a particular area."

Parents can sign their children up now by going to the website here or calling (618) 536-7751.

Right now, staff hours are limited in the office but encourage callers to leave a message so they can be reached.

Brooke Schlyer

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