Back in May, Ian and I made the difficult decision to not send Benji to in-person YMCA camp this summer. At the time, COVID cases were slowly but steadily trending downward and things looked better all the time. Even so, we opted for safety (in retrospect, a very good idea) and signed up for the YMCA’s new “Camp in a Box” day camp option.

Now, for six weeks starting this week, the YMCA provides us with a box of supplies and activity instructions. Twice a day Monday through Friday, Benji participates in a Zoom call with camp counselors, who play games and do activities pertaining to the week’s theme. The rest of the day he can choose what activities from the box he wants to complete. Most require little adult intervention after he gets started. There are usually two main activities per day: One thematic activity, like making a superhero cape; the other just fun and interesting, like making a straw rocket.

This week marked the first week of Camp in a Box, which looked like this at our house:

Camp in a Box: Superhero Camp 1
Camp in a Box Day 1.
Camp in a Box: Fireworks in a Jar STEM Project
“Fireworks in a jar” — actually a very cool density experiment.
Scooter Superhero
Super Benji leaving for a family walk in the morning before camp.

Benji didn’t care to do all the activities in the box, but that’s okay; it gives us some more stuff to draw on in the future when we’re bored. Which is a near-certainty, with him staying home all day every day all summer, and us working from home at the same time. He usually says, “Mommy, play with me,” for the first time each day between about 9:30 and 10:00, and it goes from there.

So: I didn’t know how Camp in a Box would go. Nobody did. It’s a completely new idea that they’ve never done before. But you know what? Benji loved the Zoom calls. He got really into his superhero crafts and made a cape, wrist guards, and (with Mom’s help) a shield that he wore around quite a lot. He changed his Zoom name to his superhero name: Super Benji. (Don’t tell him I gave away his secret identity.) We had a very enjoyable time doing some of the family activities.

Overall, I’d rate it as successful as any socially distanced day camp could be. Just goes to show: The YMCA rocks.

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