Tag Archives: Camp Wonderopolis

It’s Okay to Hate Working From Home

By Tracey Dowdy

Are you among the millions of Americans for whom the idea of working from home sounded like a dream, but in reality, it’s turned out to be a nightmare? The blurred lines of work and home life, frequent interruptions, lack of dedicated workspace, and the logistics of working as a team via Zoom meetings and email have left millions of workers frustrated and longing for the structure and routine of the office or job site. 

Take heart. You’re not alone. Recently, the CDC partnered with the Census Bureau on an experimental data system called the Household Pulse Survey. They discovered that one-third of all Americans are struggling with depression or anxiety in the wake of COVID-19, up from the 18% reported pre-COVID

The effects of that anxiety and depression can manifest in many ways, but one of the most common is a lack of motivation and productivity. Ashley McGirt, a licensed mental health therapist, says, “Several studies have shown the connection between low work productivity and even mild forms of depression. A normal brain thinks about 70,000 thoughts a day; an anxious brain processes two to three times that amount of thoughts and can lean to low productivity from spending time perseverating on numerous thoughts. The current state of the world has caused immense grief, depression, and anxiety. Many people’s normal coping forms have been closed, such as going to the gym, movies, or [going] out with friends. As we have had to adapt to a new normal many of us have had to find new coping skills.” 

Alongside our rising stress levels is the seemingly relentless barrage of bad news – racial tensions, hurricanes, problems with our health care system, and a divided political landscape – while we lack human connection to mitigate those feelings. 

The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay not to be okay. This is an unprecedented season that no one outside a Cormack McCarthy novel could have anticipated. Allow yourself the grace you desperately need and accept that you aren’t at your best and may not be for some time. Beating yourself up for not meeting your pre-COVID standards only fuels your stress level. “It is extremely important to give yourself grace during this time,” McGirt says. “If all you do is get out of bed and brush your teeth consider it okay. We put too much pressure on ourselves to be productive and constantly working. It is important to slow down and rest and reflect. While we are dealing with many unknowns during this unprecedented time, it is important not to add the stress of productivity to your plate.”

One way to manage your expectations is to go through your to-do list and be merciless in eliminating what can wait. If you’re struggling to keep up with the dishes, use paper plates. If meal planning is overwhelming, switch to simple meals like breakfast for dinner or sandwiches to limit prep and clean up. 

Take breaks whenever you can, even if it’s just stepping out your front door and taking a few deep breaths to clear your head. Self-care isn’t only bubble baths and spa days; it can be as simple as savoring a cup of tea, taking five minutes to meditate, or getting up to move your body.  

Years ago, Mad TV had a hilarious recurring sketch, “Lowered Expectations.” Though your life may not be the mess those characters were, there’s nothing wrong with lowering the expectations you set for yourself short-term. Life is far from normal, so allow yourself to lower the bar and celebrate your wins every chance you get. Accomplishing everything on a shorter-than-usual-to-do list gives you a mental boost, whereas an incomplete list inevitably feels like failure. 

So, stand up straight, look in the mirror, and give yourself a “You’re doing great sweetie,” because you are. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Virtual Summer Camps Kids Will Love

By Tracey Dowdy

For many parents, summer 2020 looks a lot different from summers’ past. Many states have flattened the curve and are beginning to re-open, while others have seen a spike and are forced to roll back their plans. 

That means pools, playgrounds, and other family-friendly venues remain closed until further notice. One of the biggest losses is, of course, summer camps. Social distancing, wearing masks, the need for frequent sanitization of surfaces as well as other CDC guidelines mean many camps have been canceled or moved online. While it can’t take the place of real-world adventure and exploration, virtual summer camps are a great way to stay safe but still have fun. They’re also a perfect opportunity to experience a subject they’d otherwise never have a chance to explore.

If you feel like the last months of virtual learning were a bit of a bust, you can stimulate those foggy brain cells with week-long camps through Varsity Tutors. Kids can learn a new language, solve brain teasers, practice creative writing, learn the science behind magic, or train a dog. Tailored for specific grade levels—kindergarten and up. (Free)

Camp Wonderopolis offers fun STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs. This year’s camps include Symphony of Wonders, Build Your Own Wonder City, Wonder Food Truck, and Mission to Wonder. Camp Wonderopolis is guaranteed to make science enjoyable by answering questions like, “Why are bowling shoes slippery?” “Where’s the world’s fastest roller coaster?” (Free)

Kids ages 5 to 11 can join a virtual “cabin” of six-eight other campers at Camp Supernow They’ll meet daily on Zoom for crafts, games, field trips, and more. Included in the camp tuition are additional Super Shows that involve the whole camp – think sing-a-longs, magic shows, and movement classes designed to foster community when we’re all feeling a little disconnected. Each session lasts two weeks, and they’re currently offering a free trial day to see if your kid enjoys it. ($199 per camper)

Tech-savvy older students may enjoy iD Tech’s virtual classes. Classes are designed for kids seven and up and focus on computer animation and app-building – kids can even learn how to design for Minecraft. The camp isn’t cheap, but once you pay for one child, a sibling or friend can join for free. ($399 with code TOGETHER as long as social distancing is in effect – savings: $100).

The “Start with a Book” program from Reading Rockets is an online book club for kids ages six and up. With 24 topics to choose from as varied as dinosaurs, bugs, the moon, art, geography, mysteries, and superheroes, there’s a stream for everyone. Kids are matched with the books to check out along with activities, apps, and ideas to keep the fun going even after they’ve finished the last chapter. (Free)

UNICEF USA’s CAMP@HOME provides campers with a philanthropic summer camp experience. Kids will watch videos on sports, crafts, and cooking, and then be prompted to take what they’ve learned and apply it in the real world. As kids complete the videos, food packets are “unlocked” for UNICEF to send to malnourished children worldwide. Participating campers can even unlock donations for COVID-19 supplies for their communities. (Free). 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.