A virtual camp experience for youth with disabilities

Sep 20, 2021

In 2021, Easter Seals BC & Yukon, a service of the British Columbia Lions Society for Children with Disabilities had to cancel their popular in-person sleep away camp for youth with physical and intellectual disabilities due to COVID-19. As an innovative alternative to the traditional camp experience, the organisation instead hosted a virtual summer camp designed to help reduce social isolation and improve self-confidence for campers in a safe online environment. 

The TELUS Friendly Future Foundation helped the organisation create this engaging virtual camp experience. Through a $97,750 Provincial/Territorial grant, 100 youth with disabilities across BC and the Yukon gained access to immersive summer camp programming and virtual field trips. The virtual camp experience allowed participants to stay connected with their community while providing respite for caretakers and families whose responsibilities have increased during the pandemic.

Giving young people with physical and intellectual disabilities a space to connect with their peers is needed now more than ever. 

The organisation has seen first-hand how the pandemic has been isolating for so many people, but even more so for people with disabilities, many of whom are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Having a virtual place where their campers could laugh, play and connect in a safe environment with others sharing a similar experience was truly invaluable.

Emmett has been participating in virtual camp and just loving every minute. From tie-dye tee shirts, to virtual dance parties, and even a talent show, they didn’t miss a beat! We are so impressed with how they have managed to translate the magic of in-person camp to this virtual format.

- Parent of a virtual camper