By Stephen Petrick
Can’t make it to a campsite this spring or summer?
Don’t worry, the Kinark Outdoor Learning Centre can bring the fun of camping right to your home.
The centre, which helps children with disabilities foster a love for the outdoors, is continuing with its Camp in a Box program this spring.
For $50, the Learning Centre will ship families a box that contains games and activities that can be used to mimic the experience of camping in the wilderness.
The box’s content may include materials needed for building a bird feeder, going on an animal tracking hunt, or nature-themed crafts.
“They’re just fun little activities and games that help with learning new skills and can strengthen family bonds,” said Chelsea Brown, a program supervisor at the Kinark Outdoor Learning Centre, located at 1766 Queen’s Line Rd. in Minden Hills.
The Camp in a Box program started last year when it was becoming apparent that another “COVID summer” would likely limit local families’ abilities to go out and experience traditional camping. Brown said the boxes staff prepared last year sold out. The program was so well received that staff decided it should continue this year. Kinark is preparing to relaunch the program this month.
“People really enjoyed it; it was a great way to connect and do virtual activities that were, in a sense, offline,” Brown said.
In fact, if there’s a silver lining in the pandemic, it’s that groups like the Kinark Outdoor Centre were forced to discover new ways to serve families. Brown said that many of the centre’s virtual programs are expected to remain in place, even if the pandemic wanes, because they’ve been successful at bringing new families to the Kinark Centre programs (even if not in a physical sense). Some families in the area, she noted, may still be unable to attend the centre in person, because of transportation issues or other barriers, which is why the Camp in a Box program is so important.
“Our philosophies are about allowing people to try new things; get a break from routine,” she said. “The (Camp in a Box program) gives a chance to experience those camp activities in a safe space.”
As a supervisor for virtual programs, Brown is busy preparing for a number of activities. The Kinark Outdoor Centre also hosts an online respite program. For $25 per hour, a child can connect virtually with another adult and do virtual activities.
The centre also has family programming, which includes a monthly trivia night event and special events, often themed around holidays. A St. Patrick’s Day virtual night is planned for March 9.
There are also youth programs, which include an “escape room” night event, coming up on March 23.