For the first time in 10 years, the Hormel Historic Home was unable to offer their in-person Autism Summer Camp experience due to COVID-19. However, through diligent work, they were able to provide an alternative virtual camp option that aimed to meet the same goals as their in-person camps.
Circle of Friends and Camp Just for Me were provided in an easy turn-key prepared kit. Sensory toys, creative activities, crafty projects, and snack recipes were included with all materials, instructions, and supports for campers and their parents/guardians. Kits appealed to individual interests and sensory preferences of campers while working to engage them socially.
An example of a prepared kit.
All Access Community Explorations Camp for their older age group took place in a Zoom meeting format, which included live tours of local businesses of interest, recipes that campers could prepare at home, and specific activities in which campers could engage. Though the Hormel Historic Home was unable to utilize everything they usually would be able to, response to the virtual camps was terrific.
"It was a pleasant surprise to hear positive feedback from parents about our virtual camp experiments," Holly Johnson of the Hormel Historic Home said. "Our efforts helped foster some increased tolerance and appeal for distance learning that will be helpful in this school year." Advice for anyone moving forward would be to "Keep an open mind, regularly review the goals of your program/organization to possibly spark a new and creative way you may be able to accomplish them during these restrictive, challenging times."
To learn more about UWMC funded programs, clickHERE.