11 Great Tips to Run a Virtual Coding Camp
During this time of uncertainty, one of the most valuable things educators can do is provide a sense of normalcy for their students. Therefore, in the event that traditional coding camps won’t be open this summer, virtual ones can still provide kids with much needed fun, creativity, and academic activities. Here are 11 great tips on how to run your own virtual summer camp:
1. Have a Backup Plan
Since we don’t know whether we’ll be required to stay at home or not this summer, it’s essential to be flexible and have a Plan B. You may want to proceed with plans for a physical camp and have a virtual camp as your backup, or vice versa. Whatever you decide, be sure to let your customers know of your intentions as soon as possible. Also, update them frequently- through email, social media, website blog posts- and have a flexible cancellation and refund policy. Communication and quality customer service are more important now than ever.
2. Get Certified
Prepare yourself to run a coding camp by getting certified with the American Camp Association (if you’re in the US). The certification course costs around $300 and provides valuable information and documentation. However, if you’re a K-12 educator in the US, you can apply to run a Tynker CodeMaker Camp and your certification cost will be waived!
3. Embrace Virtual Learning
With online classes becoming a necessity for students right now, parents will be that much more willing to sign up for a virtual camp this summer. There are great resources on how to set up your virtual classroom, but the basics you’ll need are a computer with a webcam, a quiet teaching space, and a curriculum. Zoom is offering free accounts for educators right now, but there are many other great video conferencing services like Schoology and Google Hangouts, which may be most convenient if you’re already using Google Classroom.
4. Make A Schedule
Keeping students’ attention in person can be challenging, even more so online. It’s recommended that campers spend no more than 45 minutes straight in front of a screen, so schedule snack breaks and think of creative ideas to recharge your campers- group exercise or unplugged computer science activities, Lego builds- whatever fits with the theme of your camp! Be sure to check with a licensed insurance agent to see if you’ll need coverage to lead virtual physical education.
5. Engage Your Campers
One of the most difficult parts of teaching remotely, as I’m sure many teachers by now can attest to, is keeping your students’ engaged. This can be even more challenging with summer camp if you’re trying to retain customers week to week. Think of interesting ideas to keep your campers and parents coming back. Invite parents to join the last 30 minutes of camp each Friday to see their children’s projects. Hold weekly contests and give away camp themed goodies. And encourage campers to engage on the camp’s social media page with daily fun facts.
6. Check Your Camp’s Legal Requirements
Since you’ll be running your own business, make sure you’re doing everything legally. Review this handy ACA page to understand your state’s requirements, then decide how you want to structure your business.
7. Raise Money For Your Camp
No matter how great your idea is for a camp, you’ll need capital to back it up. How you set up your business will determine which avenues you take to raise money. Grants and assistance may be available, so speak with a financial advisor before making any big decisions.
8. Purchase Insurance
One of the biggest advantages in running a virtual camp is the significantly lower startup cost compared to hosting a physical location. Though you may still want to purchase insurance, it won’t cost nearly as much. You also won’t need to buy as much equipment, though you could establish a loaner program for students that don’t have their own devices at home (all Tynker camp courses require either a laptop or tablet). Be sure to thoroughly plan your camp finances in order to meet your goals.
9. Set Your Camp’s Price
Your pricing will vary from area to area, so do your research and price yourself competitively. Since campers will be attending remotely, lowering your business costs, you may want to pass along those savings by slightly lowering your prices or adding more value with free private tutoring, camp t-shirts, or themed computer accessories.
10. Market Your Camp
Successful marketing can be the difference between a great camp that makes no money and a great camp that makes lots of it. First, build a website and research which type of marketing is most effective in your area. Create social media accounts for your camp on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and post at least twice a day. If you can afford it, try a paid advertisement like Google Ads at least once a week.
11. Let Tynker Help!
With over 20 camp and after school courses to choose from, our web-based coding platform is the perfect solution for your virtual camp needs, making online instruction easily accessible for both you and your students. Check out our courses at www.tynker.com/camps or contact our Camps & After School Team for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org