M.A.D Summer Camp during COVID-19
Posted: Wed, 19 Aug 2020 11:20
Callam Dunne, Youth Engagement Officer at M.A.D Birmingham, has been running the summer camps in Garretts Green for 4 weeks now. Safe to say, these summer camps look and feel a bit different! COVID-19 has meant that Callam and team have had to adapt their camps to ensure the safety of all staff, volunteers and participants. We caught up with Callam to ask him about the M.A.D summer camps.
What was camp like before COVID-19?
Busy. There was a lot of children, a lot of staff, a lot of play going on. It's always really been about the high numbers. As a community project we want to welcome everyone. Life was a bit more easy, a bit more relaxed. It was more play, like you didn't have to worry about social distancing or taking temperatures. It was a fun time. Watch what February camp 2020 looked like.
What would you say is the main difference in Summer Camp this year?
The main difference is definitely numbers. We used to get excited when we got like a group of 100 come. You could look at the impact of the kids who took part, how many families you fed, how many took part in sport, and you really feel like you're making a change in the community. Now, we have a maximum of 25 at a time with bubbles of five. So the change has been huge for us. From a workforce perspective it feels very different. I would say the silver lining is that myself and the other coaches, volunteers, have got to know the children better personally. You get to build relationships a lot quicker, you get to know more.
What measures have you put in place to make sure that everyone is safe?
As soon as you come through, there's hand sanitizer on the desk and each child's temperature is taken. If a temperature reading is above a certain number, we may recommend getting tested. We've allowed extra time between changeover to wipe down all the equipment so, the equipment is cleaned ready for the next group.
What differences have you seen in the children?
I would say because we have been in lockdown for a while, the children have been a bit shy to start. I think as well as that, they are a lot more excited. On the one hand they're quite nervous, and on the other hand they've been inside for so long and any activity like this is really appreciated. We've had parents saying that this has been the highlight of the year, which is amazing. Even though we're still doing tennis and football, the scale of what we're doing is reduced with 25 kids. Having been used to doing things on a bigger scale, this seems very cut back to us, but for the kids it's a really big deal and they really get a lot out of it.
What positives have you seen overall?
I think it's just the optimism of being back outside. We've gone from being locked in the house to now being able to deliver and provide in the community. So it feels like we're a step closer to normality. We get to speak face to face, we can play sports with social distancing and added measures like using had sanitiser. It's a bit of normality. So I think it's making people feel a lot more optimistic.
What have the children / volunteers learnt during the four weeks?
I think the volunteers learn a lot more about the workforce and just being in the workplace, having professionalism a lot more. I think for the children is to still have fun, play but with rules. To not let the rules get them down and to adapt to new surroundings. I myself have learnt how to adapt and to be patient, especially with the volunteers. Teaching them to learn and adapt, has been the highlight and watching them grow. They have taken on more responsibility, sticking to the rules and making sure the children follow the rules and being a good example for them.
COVID-19 has impacted people and communities in different ways, but it's projects like M.A.D that are helping to bring a sense of normality, community and togetherness. While Callam and the team are seeing a very different version of M.A.D on the ground, the same ethos and values of everyone involved ensures that the programme continues to have a positive impact on people and communities.