Nature Canada

Got Bored Kids? Check out Our #VirtualCamp Sessions!

It isn’t always easy to stay connected to the natural world in the midst of a global pandemic and stay-at-home directives. These days, we need to think creatively about how to keep Canadians of all ages engaged with nature. 

That’s why Nature Canada recently led three #VirtualCamp sessions. #VirtualCamp is the brainchild of Dustin Rivers and Chris Lutz, two Ottawa-area dads and event planners who came up with an innovative way to keep kids entertained (and parents sane!) during the COVID-19 crisis.

They launched #VirtualCamp at the end of March and have since entertained more than 230 virtual campers with nearly 60 sessions. Campers are typically between the ages of 6 and 10, and the sessions are live streamed on YouTube. They can be watched for free after a parent or guardian registers their child as a camper.

In our first session, Naturalist Director Ted Cheskey did a dramatic reading of Rufus the Red Knot, a comic book that he wrote alongside Aurélie Bourbeau-Lemieux. The story takes kids on a journey from Southampton Island in Nunavut all the way to the southernmost tip of Chile in South America. It features an adventurous red knot, a shorebird that migrates more than 30,000 kilometres each year! 

The comic was produced in 2016 in collaboration with Cree First Nations around the James Bay coast, key partners in the conservation of shorebirds and protection of nature.

Nature Canada’s second #VirtualCamp session took place the week of Earth Day, and fittingly included the performance of a song called “I Like Birds” by Ted and Benoit Lalande, another member of our Urban Birds team. Originally written and performed by a band called the Eels, Ted and Ben strummed their guitars and sang a beautiful rendition from their respective homes. 

They were joined after by Hilary Duff, Nature Canada’s media relations and communications specialist, who led a question and answer session filled with bird calls, photos of feathered friends, and a trip to Ted’s bird feeder to visit some chickadees! 

In our final session, Aly Hyder Ali, Nature Canada’s Urban Nature Organizer, walked kids through some of the fun activities they can find on the website. Aly’s session was in the lead-up to World Migratory Bird Day on May 9—but these games are fun for families year-round!

The sessions also touched on how kids can become birders in their nearby nature, and what they can do with their families to keep birds safe in their communities. 

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Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.