Starting in July, the Ute Indian Museum will be offering “Hands-On History” activities in the form of in-person summer camps as well as take-home kits. Both types of camps will have an emphasis on social interaction amid the pandemic, including Zoom meetings for the take-home kits and education on cleanliness and social distancing during the in-person camps.
“[The kits] are a program that is designed to be done at home, mitigating risk for families who want to stay safe and make sure everything is controllable,” said Education Director Carly Jones. “For in-person camps, we were given the green light to go, and we’re following state guidelines very closely. ...We are implementing a lot of new changes to make sure we can still have these camps, and try to make them as normal as possible. There are going to be some things we have to do to make them accessible.”
The in-person camps will have limited spots available and each session will take place on Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to limit hours. Throughout the sessions, Jones said there will be an emphasis on education — both about the topics and about social distancing — in hopes that kids can learn about what measures they may have to take during the school year in a more casual setting.
“We’ve limited the number of kids that are going to be allowed to do these camps, but we’re thrilled we’re going to be able to have them,” Jones said. “We might be these kids' first opportunity to be in a group setting. ...We might also be the first exposure they have to this new world. We’re trying to make it into an educational experience, just trying to give them a little exposure to what things might look like at school.”
The themes for the in-person summer camps will be “Recycling and Reusing” on July 16, “Wild Water'' on July 23, “Survival Fun” on July 30 and “Native Arts” on August 6. Each camp will take place primarily outdoors, and Jones encourages families to also take advantage of the outdoor opportunities offered through the museum itself.
“Museums are an educational resource and getting that knowledge out and disseminating that knowledge is the biggest part of what we do,” Jones said. “In a typical year, we would have a full summer’s worth of summer camps as well numerous partnered activities. We’re hoping these camps allow a little bit of that to stay strong.”
For families who are still in quarantine, or who are simply not yet comfortable with sending kids to in-person summer camps, take-home kits are available to allow kids to participate and learn about the topics from the safety of their home.
“We’re hoping these kits allow us to interact with our community and continue the educational goals and stay the educational resource we are in times when we don’t really know what’s around the next corner,” Jones said. “Despite the fact that we’re all stuck inside, we’re trying to bring some of that camp activity back into their home version of camp.”
The take-home kits will also have a socialization component through Zoom calls between participants, which Jones hopes will allow them to connect with teachers as well as each other. The calls will take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the week of each theme.
“We are adding that socialization component into those kits. They have that opportunity to talk and chat with friends or meet new friends through the program,” Jones said. “They’ve been stuck at home and have limited resources sometimes, so we hope these kits allow them to explore new crafting techniques and new skills, the hands-on aspect, especially since we went to digital schooling.”
The theme for the week of July 6 is “To Bead or Not to Bead,” July 13 is “Native World! Skills and Crafts,” July 20 is “Roar! Wildlife Exploration,” July 27 is “Dig! Archaeology Week” and August 3 is “Splash! Wild Water Week.”
Jones hopes both the camps and kits lead participants into asking questions about what more they can learn. The Ute Indian Museum is focusing its efforts on education this summer, and encourages the community to get involved.
“We’re so happy to be back and able to interact with our community, albeit in a slightly new way. ...We’re trying to keep engaged in our community and provide those educational but also fun resources that they're looking for in this very stressful period of time,” Jones said. “The museum is the community, and the community is the museum. We’re happy to have them back.”
The in-person camps are $70 per week and the take-home kits are $36 per week, with discounts for families on free and reduced lunches or for multiple participants in the same week. The museum encourages families to find more information on the summer camps at their Facebook page, and is also asking for donations of clean recycled materials to use during the activities.