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Gig Harbor mom creates a ‘virtual kids camp’ to help families stuck at home

A Gig Harbor mom looks to help parents in need. (Unsplash)

If you’re a parent who has been home with your school-aged kids, you can probably relate to Gig Harbor mom and social media manager, Carri Anne Ekberg.

“It just was overwhelming to think that I was going to have my kids home for six weeks because I was not prepared to be their teacher,” Ekberg said. “I wasn’t prepared with activities and crafts. I thought to myself, I’m going to need some serious help to make it through this six weeks.”

Ekberg had the idea to start a virtual kids camp; to gather up local artists, yoga instructors and teachers of all subjects to teach virtual lessons to kids stuck at home. She created the Facebook group Too Cool For School Virtual Kids Camp, and 11 days later it had more than 17,000 followers from around the world.

“Every time we have somebody come on to do a virtual class, you can go to the events tab and you will see, on a daily basis, what the events are. You can click on them and request to be part of that event. Then you’ll get the notification specific for that event.”

So far they’ve had a virtual drawing and painting class, yoga, creative play and some mindfulness and parenting classes for the grown-ups.

“A local non-profit here in Gig Harbor, Harbor Wildwatch, did a beach detective virtual. They went out to a local beach and talked about the tides and the waves and showed everybody some cool animals you can find here on Pacific Northwest beaches. Saturdays we’re going to have a career highlight. Last Saturday we had a state trooper couple come on and kids asked questions and got to learn a little bit more about what it’s like to be a state trooper.”

If you miss the live stream, most of the activities and classes are recorded and available for you to watch on your own schedule.

“A friend of mine, Holly, she has a company called Raising Rookies, and she does outdoor activities and sports agility for kids,” Ekberg said. “She posted a link to six or seven YouTube videos that you can go out and do with your kids. For example, a video of an obstacle course. So I grabbed my kids, we went to our basement and found everything we could and set up an obstacle course.”

Right now, Ekberg is looking to expand the programming. She’s hoping to get someone to do a virtual cooking or baking class and do some science experiments.

“We are looking for any businesses that have kid related activities who would like to come on and do a video or teach a class. We’re really looking for folks who have backgrounds in education or maybe have a children’s museum or have science backgrounds or a really cool career that they’d like to come on and chat with the kids about.”

She polled the parents on the Facebook group, and learned that most have kids 12 and under. So they’re focusing on content that appeals to kids from preschool to middle school. And best of all:

“We will never charge in this group for classes. It’s 100% free. That is not the point of this group at all. I want every single person who’s struggling or stressed about having a kid at home to be able to access this. Even if just one of the videos or resources helps, I want everyone to have access to this group. We’re all in this together!”

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