Camp Bethel offers outdoor day camp for remote learners

'School's Out, Camp's In' for third to eighth grade kids goes for entire fall semester

BOUTETOURT, Va. – For the first time in 94 years, Camp Bethel in Fincastle did not have overnight summer camps because of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite all the changes, Camp Bethel is still helping families with the first-ever School’s Out Camp’s In day camp.

The camp is specifically for third graders to eighth-graders. It doesn’t matter if a child has remote learning all five days or just part of the week, they can still join.

Every morning kids go through a health and temperature check. Kids are split into groups of six to 10 students where the majority of the day they do active, engaging outdoor projects. That is their group for the entire fall semester.

“Each group stays as its own group and unit throughout the entire time that they’re here. They have a home-based facility that is only their home-based facility so at no time does the groups and their leaders interact with other groups,” said Camp Bethel director Barry LeNoir.

LeNoir added that if someone were to get sick with the virus this cohort style approach will call for only that child’s group to quarantine, not the entire camp.

Camp Bethel is all about being an active, engaging outdoor learning setting so the majority of the day camp will consist of that. There will be time carved out at the end of the day for kids to get support with their virtual learning homework.

LeNoir said for kids, time spent outdoors reduces stress and increases cognitive abilities, something kids still need despite a pandemic.

“We’re so tired of Zoom meetings and being on our screens and although that has to continue for students for their remote learning days this is an opportunity to get a break from that and an opportunity to get engaging, face to face, with masks on, experience in the outdoors,” LeNoir said.