Virtual Summer Camps Excite Students About Lake Champlain
Although COVID-19 put a lot of activities on hold this summer, for 124 students from seven states and two Canadian provinces, the pandemic created an opportunity to get to know the watery world of Lake Champlain—virtually.
"Our traditional Lake Adventure Camps are one of the best times of year for all of us, staff and campers alike," said Elizabeth Lee, the Museum's director of education and interpretation. "When we realized we couldn't come together as planned this summer, our goal was to find a way to recreate even a piece of that joy of being outside, learning from experts, and trying new hands-on activities. Thanks to our sponsors, we were able to make the camps free and available to everyone."
With financial support from the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes offered six free, week-long online summer camps. These Virtual Lake Adventure Camps engaged youths in Grades 2-12 in themed learning opportunities.
Campers received a kit in advance by mail that included supplies for hands-on projects and safe outside activities. During the daily 90-minute sessions, they met professional blacksmiths and crafted copper wire trees and tin lanterns, learned about local fish species, and built their own fishing rods. They also became virtual nautical archaeologists, exploring underwater environments and designing ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) and habitats.
"These camps gave youths who may never have had an opportunity to get to know Lake Champlain a chance to explore it and generated an interest in science and recreation related to water resources," said Kris Stepenuck, Extension program leader with Lake Champlain Sea Grant, a cooperative effort of the University of Vermont (UVM), UVM Extension, and the State University of New York Plattsburgh. "If anything good can come from a pandemic, I think this is a great example of a success."
In addition to Lake Champlain Sea Grant, sponsors for these virtual camps included Reinhart Foodservice; Cabot Creamery Cooperative; Community Bank, N.A.; and IPJ Real Estate.
About Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: Founded in 1985 with the mission to preserve and share the cultural and natural heritage of the Lake Champlain region, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is building a healthy future and community for Lake Champlain. Through education, exhibits and historic boats, research, and collections, the Museum connects people to the region’s history, ecology, and archaeology and creates opportunities for hands-on learning that will last a lifetime. Year-round education programs serve more than 2,500 K-12 students, as well as hundreds of educators locally and nationally. Learn more about the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
Lake Champlain Sea Grant develops and shares science-based information to benefit the environment and economies of the Lake Champlain basin. Learn more about Lake Champlain Sea Grant.