Summer camps convert to online offerings

Summer band camp at Henderson State University has attracted young musicians to the campus for more than 50 years.

Art camps for teens and adults are a newer summer offering, and Henderson’s STEM Center always provides hands-on opportunities for students both young and old.

This summer, however, the campus is closed due to COVID-19.

But some camps and programs have adapted to the situation, making their summer learning experiences available online.

“Virtual” band camp will offer private lessons using online technology and pre-recorded instructional videos that have been uploaded for online viewing.

Virtual meetings using the Zoom conferencing platform have been scheduled to allow discussions and professional development for band directors.

“Being in existence for 55 years, Henderson band camps have provided a long tradition of musical and social activities for campers,” said Dr. Shaun Popp, director of bands and associate professor of music education. “While we are unable to host camps on our campus this summer, we wanted to offer a virtual format that would engage our campers during these times of uncertainty.”

Free online events are planned June 25-26. Go to for more information.

The Teen Art Workshop just wrapped up a week of online experiences for participants. Guest artists provided expert lessons using instruction videos, live sessions, and unique art materials for campers to work with from home.

Henderson art education majors created online classrooms and assisted the instructors during the live sessions.

Sessions included painting, sculpture, fiber art, and African textile dye art. Each camper had access to a specialized art kit.

“Our campers seem to have adapted with no issues,” said David Warren, professor of art. “They were excited to have the opportunity to continue to work with our visiting artists.

“The instructors had to tackle the online ‘learning curve.’ We planned and worked as a team for months to make sure the experience would be a great one.”

Warren said two of the sessions were streamed live from Zanzibar, Africa.

The art department’s focus has now shifted to the upcoming workshop for art educators and will follow a similar format.

Henderson’s STEM Center worked with the university’s TRIO program to offer a virtual STEAM camp. The curriculum was designed for students in grades 6-8.

The three-day camp focused on coding and design thinking, according to Michelle Johnson, STEM Center director.

“The students received a microcontroller (makey makey) that brings engineering and coding concepts to life in exciting new ways,” she said. “It is already programmed to replace keys on a keyboard, and the students created projects integrating coding, presentation skills, and their understanding of electrical circuits.”

The STEAM staff used Zoom web conferencing and Canvas for their learning management system. About 30 students participated, Johnson said.

In July, the STEM Center will host online training for teachers participating in the Reddie Virtual STEAM Academy which was developed to provide online instruction to students throughout the state for the 2020-21 school year.

This is the second year for the academy which is funded through the Arkansas Department of Education.

“This year, our focus is on providing training to teachers to build capacity for the implementation and development of online and/or blended learning,” Johnson said. “Because of COVID-19, this project is even more relevant than when we started this journey with our online academy.”

The STEM Center is also working on short playlists called “Reddie Bytes” to provide additional learning opportunities for educators.

“We realize that most people don’t have time to sit down to watch a 30-45 minute training video to learn a new skill,” Johnson said. “These bytes are meant to be consumed on an as-needed basis and will be in small “easy-to-digest” pieces.

“Training will be provided on a variety of online teaching strategies, pedagogy, and technology that will help teachers connect with their students during the pandemic and beyond.”

For more information, go to