MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — The coronavirus outbreak has stopped many major events and even shut down schools this past spring, so it’s not surprising that the pandemic prevented most camps from hosting youths for the summer.

Staff at one Montgomery County camp decided to get creative by thinking inside the box. They found a way to send the camp experience home to their campers.

“I was mad at the coronavirus because it had to ruin my camp,” said Joseph Pithua who went to Alta Mons Camp last year.

However, Joshua’s mother, Maranda Hartze Pithua, says he wasn’t happy he had to miss it this year.

“When all the regulations started happening with COVID he was missing a birthday party for his own birthday. So that one top of missing out on other events and now the camping experience, it all adds up and it all is sad,” said Maranda.

Camp Program Director Meredith Simmons says when they made the decision not to host an in-person camp, they wanted to create a free, virtual version instead.

“It’s online content that was available to everyone. But I wanted to make sure that all of our campers, number one, got something special from us, and that, number two, the camp was able to reach campers that even may have parents that weren’t able to engage them in the online content or parents that just wouldn’t have time for that,” said Simmons.

Therefore, camp staff got the idea to make “Camp at Home” boxes.

“It’s been a lot of work to design the box, the box assembly. Lots and lots of volunteers enabled us to be able to send out 300 Camp at Home boxes.”

Joseph says he was very shocked when he received his box.

“I didn’t even know it was coming, but when it did, I never even get any mail so I was really excited.”

When Joseph’s box arrived, his mom captured his reaction as he opened it on her cell phone.

“I think it’s really good and I think what’s nice about it is it really just sparked his memory of the whole camp that he was able to get to. My favorite part is the coupon for next year’s camp,” Maranda said.

Camp staff members hope they can host an in-person camp next summer. In the meantime, though, they are glad they were able to still share the camp experience through the boxes this summer.

“If I didn’t get anything from camp to do then I’d probably be bored,” said Joseph.

Alta Mons is set to host another camp during the winter, which will hopefully be held in-person, butt if not, Simmons says the staff members havesome surprises up their sleeves.

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