University of Alaska Fairbanks summer camps go virtual this year

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The University of Alaska Fairbanks is offering virtual summer camps for children this year. The move to make the 2020 camps virtual came as a result of social distancing concerns over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

For camps that involve supply kits, these kits will be delivered individually to participants. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)

According to Michelle Bartlett, Director of Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning with the university, before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the university’s plans, 69 summer camps were planned with over 850 slots filled.

“I think it’s really important for the community to know that even though the doors at the university are shut, our connection is still there,” Bartlett said.

Among the camps being offered is a Butterfly Yoga course taught by Teal Rogers, a Junior Gardening camp taught by Melissa Sikes, and a series of cooking camps taught by Chef Sean Walklin.

The format of the camps will vary, but according to Bartlett they will generally involve zoom meetings, videos recorded and posted on YouTube, and supply kits which will be distributed to participants personally when they register for a camp.

Bartlett sees a benefit from the new delivery method. “One of the advantages is that our neighbors in Healy or Delta, anywhere, can sign up for these, and you don’t have to be literally a Fairbanks resident to take part. So we can offer to a wider community.”

Meanwhile, Bartlett thinks the adaptation necessary this year will come in handy for future camps. She said, “We’re creating tools that we didn’t even have in our toolbox. So how can we use these tools? In the long run we’ll be richer.”

Instead of releasing a booklet describing all of the available camps, this year's camps will be offered when they become available. Those interested in learning about programs as they are rolled out can be put on a mailing list by emailing summer@alaska.edu or calling 907-474-7021.

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