Summer has nearly arrived for Kodiak — longer days and more sunshine are already upon us. While the season might normally be a time to get out and enjoy the weather with friends and family, the pandemic has put a damper on many community activities.
Katie Oliver is executive director of the Kodiak Arts Council. The council puts on an annual program called Some Arts for Kids, which got its start in the 1980’s. She said they have been working to figure out how to preserve the best qualities of the program, while maintaining social distancing and other health and safety guidelines.
“One of the examples that’s in the guidelines is art supplies,” she said. “If you’re running an arts camp for kids, each child has to have their own set of supplies or their needs to be sanitation every time a user of a different household uses supplies.”
Oliver said in addition to providing each child their own supply kit, the program will have to continue as at-home classes, with a team of 15-20 local artists teaching virtually. She said designing a virtual arts camp was a new challenge.
“There really is an important design element to this in terms of ‘How do we design instruction that is sort of locally meaningful as well?’, because there are a lot of virtual arts instructions that people can can do online. So there’s a sense of connectivity and community that we need to bring to the program as well.”
This time of year, the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge is usually training seasonal rangers to lead outreach activities and camps for children to explore summer wildlife.
“It has been officially decided that we would not have our Salmon Camp this summer,” said Shelly Lawson, Education Coordinator at the refuge. “At least not in person with kids coming to camp.”
Salmon Camp is a 25-year-old program that introduces kids to the outdoors through activities in town and in Kodiak’s rural communities. “We already had our crew selected, everyone was really excited about it,” said Lawson. “So you know, it’s been tough to think about that, just the tradition and families that were hoping to come and kids that were hoping to come.”
Lawson is still encouraging parents who were hoping to sign up their kids for Salmon Camp to do so. She said they’d like to send out some goodies or activities for would-be campers to do at home.
At the library, story time is moving to the outdoors to keep visitors socially distanced. Ani Thomas is the youth librarian there.
“We’ll have story walks throughout the summer, that will change and families can come and enjoy a story that will be posted outside the building,” said Thomas. “And they walk along a path and find the next pages of each story as they’re walking along. I just love the idea. It’s a unique idea. It promotes reading in many different environments. The kids are still going to associate reading with the library.”
The library is still putting on a summer reading program for children, with creative ways to keep them socially distanced. Thomas says the program includes chalk art sessions at the library, scavenger hunts, and a seed kit to grow pollinator gardens at home.