RICHLAND, WA - This year has thrown every summer camp in the country a curve ball to figure out how to practice social distancing. Camp Korey went virtual and local students studied it.
After years of running programs in-person and replying on those relationships to be the key and pushing technology aside, Camp Korey organizers flipped the script. With the help of psychology students at Washington State University, they were able to collect and analyze data from Camp Korey's virtual camp to help move them further.
Camp Korey is a year-round program. It is for families and children that are dealing with life-altering medical conditions. They offer traditional summer camp activities.
"What we really do is bend the world to meet their needs, regardless of what their ability level is or disability. What we try to do is any activity we provide, we provide it for everybody, who's there," Matthew Cook with Camp Korey said.
This year, because of COVID, they pushed their family program model. That's where the Washington State University's psychology department comes in.
"One of the things that I realize is that I get a lot more out of it and I think students get a lot more out of the experience when we are working with real data, not fictional data, not data that has been made up," Janet Peters, a psychology professor with WSU said.
With the connections WSU Center for Civic engagement has the psychology department was able to partner with Camp Korey who has data.
Angelica, one of the psychology students with WSU said she was excited to take her skills outside the classroom.
"I mean and in other classes, you are usually working up until the next exam, but in this class we were actively looking to develop our skills and apply them," Angelica Mendoza, a student at WSU said.
Angelica and her classmates collaborated virtually to analyze data from different factors, including things like identifying camp participants' sense of belonging, feelings of isolation, confidence levels and even general demographics.
All factors were compared using data from before and during the pandemic. Cook said while the data was less effective in some areas of building connection and belonging side of things, "kids reported a great level of feeling less isolated, because of their time at camp," Cook said.
Staff with Camp Korey said they will use that data from the students to further planning. Peters said they were happy to be a part of the partnership.
"To show students and other folks the skills that you have and the ways that you can apply to make other people's lives better in our community better. For me is just one of the most important lessons that you learn," Peters said.
Cook also said the online programming and the virtual camp experience is something they will utilize as a tool going forward.
For more information about Camp Korey, you can click here.