For many years, I have held a small program I call "Sewing Camp" in my home. Kids aged 8-14 come over for week-long frolics in which we sew, embroider, quilt, make stuffies, and play outside. By some magic, all of the kids who come are wonderful. While they're sewing, they discuss life, praise each other's work, and talk about all the things they want to make and do.
This year, of course, was different. Back in March, as I was busily transforming my house into a sewing workshop to prepare for my March Break camp week, uncertainty was growing about what exactly was going on with COVID-19. Hour by hour, the news changed.
On March 11, the WHO declared the existence of a global pandemic. Soon after, travel restrictions were being discussed. Our government was telling us that we shouldn’t wear masks, and Ontario’s Premier told families that they should go ahead and travel during March Break. You all know this story; it was confusing. As March Break approached, I made the sad decision to cancel, for safety. A few days later the city began shutting down. I missed the kids! I stayed riveted to the news, as we all did.
I usually hold two weeks of sewing camp at the end of the summer. This year I had no idea if this would be possible. Some families dropped out, fearful of exposure. Other families signed up, eager for experiences. Many day camps were running, with extra precautions. I made a plan to deliver sewing camp safely, and then we did it!
Sewing Camp was really fun this year, despite the fact that we wore masks the whole time we were inside. Our groups were small, just 5 or 6 kids each week. We cleaned our hands a lot, played non-contact games, and didn’t share any snacks. We learned how to make face masks, new to our repertoire this year. Even with these extra precautions, and the discomfort of wearing masks all day, we had a great time.
On the last day, after everyone had gone, I found a note left for me by one of the kids. It read: “I always liked sewing camp, sewing camp was amazing cause everyone was so nice and it was so much fun, even with covid-19, it was still so amazing! Love, B.”
To my delight, this Sewing Camp turned out to feel almost normal. The kids understood why they needed to be careful, though a few of them needed extra reminders. On the last day, my daughter baked us special cookies to celebrate the end of Sewing Camp 2020. Despite all of the uncertainty and challenges, I’m glad I was able to pull off a fun sewing experience for some wonderful kids. The thrill of learning and of wanting to be together never goes away, not even in a pandemic.