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  • Writer's pictureAmarinda Keys

Behind the Scenes: Planning a summer program

How do you plan a summer camp program during a pandemic when your location is not ready and you only have two staff?

It was a tall order, but we pulled it off thanks to some creative thinking and some fantastic partners!

Summer camps have always been a staple summer program for the museum. Full of open-ended exploration, hands-on experiments, messy projects and muddy shoes, they are always a highlight of the year. Having to cancel last year’s scheduled summer programs was devastating. We missed the laughter, we missed running wacky experiments, and most of all, we missed building relationships with kids and families in the area. So this year, we were determined to make it work.

Partnering with the Friends of Quarry road and the City of Waterville gave us the perfect spot: Quarry Road! Full of miles of trails, a home-base yurt to keep all of our supplies, a stream, woods, fields and more, it was the perfect place for camp. With the funding from the Ollie Fund, we were able to purchase 8 mountain bikes, so the campers could learn to ride the trails. We kept the entire program outside, rain or shine!

We have to thank LC Bates for running two wild-life programs, the Kennebec Bee Keepers Association for teaching us about bees, Waterville Creates for running a fun bubbles-painting activity, museum board member Mrs. Meg for coming to teach us Animal Yoga and museum board member Karlene for taking us all on a guided hike.

We are proud to have been able to offer this program to the community. We are also proud to have been able to provide 13 scholarships to families, allowing children to attend camp free of charge. This increased our ability to serve the children of the community and ensured that cost was not a barrier for attending. We were also able to partner with the local school food program to provide all attendees with free breakfast and lunch.

In addition to Kids in the Woods, we also partnered with Viles Arboretum, in Augusta, to support their week-long outdoor-based summer program. The museum helped with curriculum development and ran a block of programming in the afternoon.

What a fun few weeks we had! We are thrilled with the feedback we received from parents and partners, and we can’t wait to grow the success of this year’s programs for years to come.

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