Summer has started for thousands of students in the North Bay, but many families are struggling to figure out how to spend the season, as the usual array of kids’ camps and outings is largely canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, several Sonoma County arts and education organizations such as the Alexander Valley Film Society, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Transcendence Theatre Company announced their plans for offering virtual summer arts camps in lieu of in-person programs.
Now, many other North Bay groups are jumping in the digital pool to provide their own virtual art experiences for kids in Sonoma, Marin and Napa County.
Healdsburg Center for the Arts is one of many nonprofit arts hubs that are temporarily shut during the stay-at-home orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Center also cancelled many fundraising events in the wake of the pandemic, including the beloved Healdsburg Earth Festival, the Healdsburg Art Festival and a number of popular art classes for adults and children.
“The past ten weeks have given us an opportunity to reflect on the benefits a community art center provides and we’ve had the opportunity to re-think about the future of the organization”, said Diana Jameson, Healdsburg Center for the Arts Board Member, in a statement. “We have discovered there is great interest and enthusiasm in the community for Healdsburg Center for the Arts to continue its creative endeavors, even during this public health crisis.”
To that end, the center is now offering online Bookmaking Summer Camps through a partnership with Book Arts Roadshow, co-founded by award-winning artist and former HCA board member C.K. Itamura. The camps are run over Zoom and offer the opportunity to explore the art and craft of making books while at home. The online sessions run select dates, June 27 to July 26, with sessions for ages 5–7, 8–12, 13–18, and even adults.
Bookmaking materials for the online sessions are provided by a grant from the Bill Graham Foundation. Packages of bookmaking materials will be mailed to registered participants ahead of the workshops.
“An online Bookmaking Summer Camp series for adults is included,” Itamura said in a statement. “Because bookmaking can be stress-free and fun and we’re pretty certain most adults can use a dose of that right about now.”
In addition to the Bookmaking Camp, local artist Jean Warren reformatted her popular Watercolor & Journaling workshop to make use of Zoom. Warren will guide students through watercolor painting lessons via video and email at a to-be-determined date. Register for camps and get more information at Healdsburgcenterforthearts.org.
When most people think “summer camp,” they think of the great outdoors, and usually the North Bay is a haven for kids to backpack, hike and explore in natural sites like the Laguna de Santa Rosa.
This summer, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation knows that gathering, even in nature, is problematic in the face of a pandemic, so the group is inviting kids to join the Laguna Explorers @ Home program to explore the wonder of nature in their own backyards.
Aimed at kids ages 6–11, Laguna Explorers @ Home includes at-home activities that engage the senses, ignite curiosity and increase environmental literacy. The activities are designed for children to do on their own without much need for parent’s interference. The program also incorporates online meetings and circle time for discussion, play, and sharing with other children and Laguna camp staff.
Environmental explorations will run July 6–10 and July 13–17. Each Monday, explorers will pick up a pack at the Laguna Environmental Center, the pack comes with the materials needed for the week, including custom field journals, nature craft supplies, activity instructions, naturalist tools, game cards and more.
A Parent Pack will also be provided with instructions, website links and supplementary materials including “rewards” for participation that parents can give their child each day. Get more details and register for Laguna Explorers @ Home at Lagunafoundation.org.
Now in its 15th year of operation, the Napa School of Music has provided thousands of lessons to families in Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, with approximately 400 students taking lessons every week from 16 top-notch teachers. In addition to private and group lessons, the school engages budding musicians in Music Camps, which are going virtual this year.
Beginning June 8–12, and running several subsequent weeks through August, the Napa School of Music’s camp schedule is packed with small-group sessions in guitar, ukulele, music recording and other classes that are designed for all ages and all skill levels, with instrument rentals available.
Beginner guitar, bass guitar and ukulele virtual camps will start aspiring musicians on the right foot with instructions in fundamentals and exposure to a repertoire of songs they can play with minimal skill.
Advanced virtual camps, designed for older tweens and teens, take the basic concepts of guitar, bass and ukulele to another level with new strumming concepts, advanced arrangements of popular melodies to learn and more. Other virtual camps include Musical Theater Camp and Songwriting Camp. Get details and sign up at Napaschoolofmusic.com.
In Mill Valley, the Marin Theatre Company is renowned not only for their stage productions, but for their commitment to community engagement. That includes the company’s Drama Conservatory, which provides classes, camps, workshops and performance opportunities for Bay Area children and teens. Approximately 8,5000 students participate in the company’s programs each year, and while the MTC’s doors closed in March due to Covid-19, they continued to engage with young actors and playwrights remotely in online classes through the Spring.
Now, MTC is introducing a new concept, Summer Camp in a Box, which was created as a way to bring summer camp activities directly to younger students so they can participate from the safety of home. The format is literally a box of theatrical supplies that can be picked up or dropped off. Boxes range from $50-$75, and scholarships are available.
Each box is themed and targeted at Kindergarteners-through fifth graders, and each box includes instructions and materials needed to complete drama activities, arts and crafts, games, recipes and more.
Themes range from “Living Literature,” which lets young ones act out classic kids books like The Magic School Bus, The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Dr. Seuss stories, to boxes based on Disney movies like The Secret Life of Pets and Frozen that let kids run wild with their imagination.
In addition to the Summer Camps in a Box for the young ones, theater kids in middle and high school can sign up for summer camps conducted virtually through Zoom, with an emphasis on acting and improvisation. All virtual camps for tween and teens are $100 and, again, scholarships are available. Register for MTC’s summer camps and boxes at Marintheatre.org.