BUFFALO, N.Y. — It may not be the same as the in-person experience, but it's the next best thing.
Virtual summer camps will give students behind-the-scenes access to iconic Western New York locations including Shea's Performing Arts Center and the Buffalo Zoo, while the attractions remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The sessions will include instruction over Zoom, along with assignments for the students to work on on their own.
"This is not the same as live theater. We're not going to pretend. We know it's not the same," said Shea's Director of Arts Engagement and Education Thembi Duncan. "But you know what we do understand, is that the skills that you need to be a good theater artist and the skills that you need to really be a better person, that we can teach over Zoom. Those things are critical thinking, punctuality, collaboration."
Shea's summer theater camps are available for students in grades 5-12, as well as grown-ups. Each runs for two weeks and costs between $100-$150. Financial aid and family discounts are available.
At the Buffalo Zoo, the education department took their popular summer camp program and transitioned it to an online learning format. The students will spend about two hours each day on a "virtual safari" throughout different areas of the zoo. Then, they'll be encouraged to get outside and explore on their own.
"Here at the zoo, our main mission is to get kids away from the screens as much as possible and get out and experience nature," said Director of Education Troy Paisley. "There will be some components where they can take what they've learned and go into their own backyards, or go into a park or another outdoor area and apply what they've learned. Look for certain things. Look for some birds, look for some plants, things like that."
The zoo's virtual camps run for seven weeks, beginning July 6. Families can register for a full week or just a day at a time, and registration costs about $100 a week, depending on your member status. Scholarships are available.