Our first week of summer dance camp in Woodstock is in the books for 2020! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our summer camp looked a little different than normal, but our first week back at the dance studio was truly unbelievable thanks to some amazingly magical dancers living in Woodstock.
Our Fairy Tale-inspired morning camp brought us 8 campers between the ages of 3-6. Many dance studios decided to forego this age group for camp this year due to the many restrictions put in place by Public Health Units and local government. Nevertheless we were confident that we could make some magic happen for these little dancers.
From our first week back into the studio, we have learned some incredible lessons from our campers in the era of COVID-19:
Lesson #1: Children are more resilient than you might think.
On Monday morning during check-in, one thing was incredible clear – anxiety was running high in the grown-ups…
Our staff met at the studio much earlier than needed and double-checked, then triple-checked for all of the policies: sanitizer spray bottles were full, the tape squares were stuck down and bright, our face shields were secure, etc. We went through every possible scenario that could happen with the little ones – what will we do when a dancer accidentally steps out of their box? What will we do if a child misses their mom/dad and needs a hug? What will we do if the kids are nervous and don’t want to leave their parents at check-in? All of these scenarios are entirely possible when working with a 3-6 year old age group. We didn’t want to ‘react’ in the moment and cause any unneeded grief or anxiety in the children. We needed to be prepared to act with care and understanding with our little ones, as we all learn together.
When it was time for check-in and kids started arriving, the campers looked eager and the parents had a brave face on. This was their first time letting their child go into a public setting without them. This was the kids’ very first step independently into the “new normal.” We could totally understand why parents might be feeling a little bit anxious too. But the kids….
They were so excited and so happy just to see other kids again! Walking up the steps of the studio, they wanted to fill me in on ALL of the things that have happened since March. From their funny looking new-masks (frozen prints aplenty), to how excited they were to have their parents at home with them every-single-day. The kids were pumped to be back at the studio!
Lesson #2: Children posses such incredible empathy and understanding.
On that first day of camp, our campers already knew what was going to be different. A week prior to camp start we sent out a safety video detailing all of the new policies and procedures for our camp. Allowing our students to be front-loaded with this new information helped them transition smoothly into the studio.
The campers were excited to point out the new boxes on the floor, “just like in the movie!” They were also so incredibly understanding and respectful when it came to keeping to their own space. And when a camper accidentally moved into another dancer’s square, they didn’t freak out or argue with the other camper. They kindly asked them to go back to their space. Our older campers were such great leaders for our younger campers too. They demonstrated such great empathy and understanding for the little ones.
Everything to the dancers was about keeping their friends safe. They truly understood the new procedures at camp because keeping their friends safe was the most important thing in their minds.
Lesson #3: We can still have FUN!
There has been a lot of talk and worry that “kids won’t be able to be kids” with all of the policies and procedures due to the pandemic. But truly, the kids we saw this week were still kids.
The campers still loved to interact and socialize even when they couldn’t be too close to one another. They still imagined and created incredible crafts. They loved to play outside and came up with some pretty silly ways to play house, horsey and all the regular kid games while keeping their distance.
We are so incredibly thankful for our first week back into the studio. The campers and their families made it a truly spectacular week of dance camp! We can’t wait for five more incredible weeks with more dancers and families!