Camp NetWorx is an accessible virtual camp designed to support connection through common communications and program support tools. At Camp NetWorx! 2020, many platforms were employed to create connections throughout the camp experience both during and between live camp events. The introduction to and experience of using these readily available platforms aligned with camp objectives to foster growth and confidence in building connection through storytelling, discovery and adventure. The portfolio of interactive applications introduced and employed through the camp experience included Zoom, Google Forms, Slack, Spotify, and LinkedIn.
Zoom is a video conferencing platform that allows anyone with an internet connection to connect. This platform existed pre-Covid; however, Covid highlighted the need and enhanced the prevalence of Zoom. A zoom professional account is needed to host the numbers typically associated with a camp like experience.
Zoom offers many features that include but are not limited to caption integration (both live and automated), a chat feature, and breakout rooms. The platform allows for the sharing of a computer screen which allows common experience engaging group topical exploration. As an example, shared exploration of a YouTube TedX can support skill development like learning the art of the “elevator speech” or can help frame a topic for discussion among campers.
Zoom is a platform supporting global participation that the camp team and participants may safely access virtually to increase inclusion and participation and mitigate isolation.
Google offers a survey platform, Google Forms, which allows for the collection of information and data. This data collection can range from short answers like someone’s name and birthday to more complex answers like checkboxes and the ability to use the Likert scale. Google Forms also has a feature to be able to export collected data to Google Sheets which allows for the information to be presented in a spreadsheet format.
Camp NetWorx! employed free Google products such as forms, spreadsheets, surveys, and calendars to facilitate program management and support for camp events.
Google Docs is another platform made available by Google. Google Docs is an online document platform that allows for text layouts and is great for sharing and working on information with others. Google Docs is similar to Word or Pages, but can easily be shared between people online and more than one person can type and edit simultaneously! Google Docs allows the team to share and save documents with everyone at Camp NetWorx!
YouTube, a video platform, is a part of the numerous Google platforms. YouTube is a public forum great for storing and sharing videos. YouTube has features that not only allow a video to be public, but videos can be stored as private or unlisted as well. Unlisted means that this video is not searchable but instead only accessible via its link. Different options for closed captioning are also available like automated captions or the ability to upload time-stamped transcripts.
At camp, we also used videos available on YouTube as resources like Maysoon Zayid’s TEDx, “I Got 99 Problems… Palsy is just one,” and Tanya Menon’s TEDx, “The secret to great opportunities? The person you haven’t met yet.”
Slack is an online communication tool that many business teams and groups can use to stay in communication with each other. Slack has features such as channels that provide for large group communication, the ability to direct messages, as well as create threads to group a string of conversations to ensure the organization of that specific conversation. A Slack user can also tag others, as well as respond with emojis.
Slack may be utilized as a communication tool between all camp members. Camp members are encouraged to communicate via Slack during as well as in between Zoom sessions. The employment of and use of Slack as a communication tool exposed camper to a new tool and encouraged camper communication between events. Slack channels allow the team to make announcements and support camp activities.
The campers used the slack general channel and cabin channels to share images that each camper was considering for their MyCube project. This project drove much of the camper participation and use of Slack.
LinkedIn is a popular social network with a specific purpose. While other social networks like Facebook and Twitter focus more on your personal life, LinkedIn is all about professional networking —that is, building a group of contacts to help advance your career.
LinkedIn is a social media platform that provides an employment-oriented service and is mainly used to increase career development and professional networking. LinkedIn allows employers to post job openings, as well as for job seekers to share their credentials in their profile.
In conjunction with a networking workshop, Camp NetWorx! introduced LinkedIn to the campers. This workshop helped campers understand the importance of building a strong network and how to empower them to begin using tools like LinkedIn.
Spotify is a music app where consumers can stream and download music. Playlists can be searched, created, and shared to ensure that the consumer is able to find and play the music that is desired to be listened to at that moment.
While “packing” for camp, each camper was asked to provide a favorite song to share with camp. One of the camp staff then compiled all the songs into one playlist that was used as a musical representation of Camp NetWorx! 2020!
Low tech tools are just as important as online platforms! These cubes are small, plastic objects that can be purchased at different locations and then filled with images.
Camp NetWorx! has the mission of empowering youth and students with disabilities seeking to develop skills and confidence in connecting to social, community, and professional networks through storytelling, discovery, and adventure. In creating their Camp NetWorx! MyCube, each camper shared images that represented unique facets as an exploration of their multi-dimensional selves. The camp employed the MyCube construct as the primary activity to provide a tactile sharing experience.
Read more about the MyCube Activity at Camp NetWorx!
Everyone loves getting a package in the mail!
Camp NetWorx!, a virtual peer mentoring camp, came together and communicated via Zoom and Slack. However, in order for the tangible items, like the completed MyCubes and competition certificates, to be received by campers, the mail was the best option, and everyone received a Camp NetWorx! package.
Camp NetWorx! is a camp for people with disabilities and we recognize that accessibility is important and a part of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We strive to incorporate accessible features like closed captions, audio description, breaks, as well as making our content compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers and Switch Control/Access.
The camp application and registration activities supported the identification of additional accommodation preferences for each individual. Live or Automated captioning and the alternative descriptions and sign language are minimal considerations to ensure full participation for all camp participants.