August 24, 2020
This summer was anything but traditional. With in-person camps and activities postponed or canceled, we knew we wanted to step up the virtual fun and offer a way to bring elementary-aged military kids together—all while keeping them engaged, busy, and active!
That’s why we created our four-week long inaugural Blue Star Summer Camp – the Home Edition. Thanks to CSX, Boeing, MetLife, and Department of the Interior—our #BlueStarNeighbors, we were able to provide virtual field trips to amazing museums, aquariums, and zoos all over the country. Not to mention, we delivered fun self-guided activities and ended each week around a virtual campfire for singalongs and meet-and-greets with special guests.
It really was the next best thing to being at camp! Don’t just take our word for it, though. Here are the five things military family members in attendance loved most about Blue Star Summer Camp.
“This was a lifesaver. With all of our summer camps being canceled, it gave them something to look forward to and was very organized. Each day, they couldn’t wait to learn something new or do the virtual field trips. Thank you so much for helping my kids have a better summer!” – Military Spouse & Mom
1. The Camp Counselors
It wouldn’t be summer camp without some super fun camp counselors! A big shoutout to our Chapter Directors and Blue Star Volunteers for serving up serious energy, which brought smiles and laughs to our campers!
2. The Virtual Field Trips
Our campers had some amazing experiences brought right to their own homes! Here are some highlights, to name a few:
- The Newport Aquarium’s own WAVE Foundation excited, engaged, and educated attendees on the wonders of aquatic life and the importance of conservation.
- The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium provided an enjoyable experience that helped our campers foster an understanding, respect, and appreciation for wildlife.
- The University of Nebraska State Museum promoted discovery of our natural world with its interactive “Steady as a Rock” demonstration.
Photos: Newport Aquarium/Pittsburgh Zoo/NOAA Marine Sanctuaries
“Blue Star [Summer] Camp has been amazing! We loved the penguins. The aquarium has done a great job. And the zoo with the animals close up was great. Thank you so much. My son, Eric, has loved it.” – Military Mom“The virtual zoo trip was the best. My daughter loves animals and enjoyed seeing them.” – Military Mom
3. The Special Guest
Each Friday during Blue Star Summer Camp, campers around the world gathered for a one-hour virtual campfire via Zoom to sing songs, show off their favorite projects, and even meet a few special guests, like former astronaut and NASA administrator Charles Bolden!
Photo: Charles Bolden – Astronaut (top), Campers in attendance (bottom)
“My son loves all things space. This was a good opportunity to let him experience something fun while his daddy is deployed. Thank you!”
– Military Spouse & Mom
“My boys loved all the events!!! After visiting the museum they spent the rest of the week building airplanes out of cardboard and paper. My husband and I got to hear all about the Major General after the [campfire] on Friday. They also called their grandparents to tell them all about it! I loved seeing how excited they are/were and how much they learned. Thank you so much! – Military Mom
“Aerospace week was a dream come true for my 9-year-old who wants to become a pilot!” – Military Mom
4. The Science Experiments, Art Projects & Snacks
Each day featured a selection of self-directed activities and ideas for military kids to tackle at home. Supply lists were posted to help families prepare to take on the art and science projects using many materials they most likely already had around the house or in their craft drawer. We also included some suggestions for outdoor play, yoga videos, scavenger hunts, virtual park visits, and more!
“We’re low income now due to COVID and having lost our jobs. We’re struggling with money and having this program let my daughter attend something cool and gets her mind off the stresses we face daily. We could not afford online camps offered through her school or the county we live in so this was a real blessing for us and a treat for her. We truly appreciate your kindness.” – Military Mom
“Programs like these help our kids in transition. We’re in the middle of a PCS and having activities to do, like these have helped in a time when she had to leave all of her friends without being able to say goodbye. In all of this uncertainty it’s wonderful that she can see other kids, even if it’s only for a little while. Thank you.” – Military Mom
5. The Campfire Songs
Singing songs around a campfire is a long-standing tradition. So we knew it was a must to include an opportunity for families to unite for a fun virtual experience, singing to tunes that connected to the week’s theme—from Scales and Tails to Aerospace, Branching Out, and History’s Mysteries.
“My child smiled and was so excited to see and interact with other children her age and loved the campfire songs with the presenters! She is really looking forward to this week’s activities! Thank you so much for making this possible for our family! – Military Mom
Thank you to our Blue Star Neighbors for making the inaugural Blue Star Summer Camp event possible!
Because of CSX, Boeing, MetLife, and the Department of the Interior, military kids around the globe had the opportunity, even during a worldwide pandemic, to get creative, blast off into space, hear animals roar, and explore—all from the comforts of home. We, along with our community of military families, are so grateful for their support!
“In these uncertain days, a sense of belonging and community is so important. Without fail, Blue Star Families always steps up to provide resources for military families by adapting its programs as defined by the new hurdles and challenges faced by military families worldwide. Their programs are so important to me and my family.” – Military Mom