Auburn Vet Med Summer 2020 Vet Camps Go Virtual
Each summer, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine hosts 150 middle and high school student campers for a week-long Vet Camp experience. Led by second- and third-year veterinary student counselors, campers are exposed to various aspects of veterinary medicine, including small and large animal specialty services, exotic species, and career opportunities within the field. In conjunction with Auburn Youth Programs, a local organization that facilitates a wide variety of camps each summer, campers are traditionally housed in Auburn main campus residence halls and are provided with meals and activities after each day of Vet Camp.
While the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to cancel Vet Camp 2020 altogether, a 3-day virtual experience was designed in only a matter of weeks in order to provide nearly four hundred 6th through 12th graders from around the globe a chance to participate in Auburn’s beloved Vet Camp. Twenty current Auburn veterinary students and a handful of Auburn veterinary professors created online presentations to simulate the lessons that the campers would have learned at the typical camp experience. All lessons were provided live via Zoom, with identical morning and afternoon sessions each day so that camper schedules and technology needs could be accommodated. The college’s own IIT department played a significant role in providing technical support to individual counselors and campers throughout the experience. In all, six separate camp sessions were conducted, with counselors, campers, and participating professors logging onto Zoom from as close as the vet campus to as far as Tokyo, Japan.
Despite the challenges that a previously untried virtual camp experience presented, this year’s camp coordinators are encouraged by the positive impact that was made on campers and counselors alike. One of the foremost advantages of the online camp format is how accessible it is for any camper, regardless of family income or geographic location. Initial feedback from campers and their parents indicates that the virtual camp experience was successful in its mission to inspire and motivate young students to pursue veterinary medicine in a similar fashion that the traditional on-campus camps have in the past. Coordinators are working closely with AUCVM administration to outline plans for potential future online camps, possibly offered more than just annually.