Kids Play: Upturn Arts’ U-Turn & More

Tie Dye Shirts

Just as it seemed like the school year would never end, it suddenly did. In the meantime, New Orleans is slowly opening up when we normally slow down for the summer heat. For many parents the slow re-opening of stores and restaurants also means that camps are now running at a reduced capacity, leaving parents struggling what to do with kids this summer.

Luckily, several organizations have organized virtual camps throughout the summer. For students who missed out on a lot of arts instruction during homeschooling (because there just wasn’t enough time to do it all), Upturn Arts launched U-Turn, the organization’s first at-home, virtual summer program for children.

All families in the New Orleans area with children ages 4 to 14 are encouraged to register for U-Turn. Each registrant, limited to 500 but with hopes to expand, receives a U-Turn art kit complete with age-specific lesson plans, access to the YouTube learning channel, a reusable bag, T-shirt with tie-dye kit and all the art supplies needed to complete each activity. In line with Upturn Arts’ mission to provide Arts For All, the art kits will be available to families on a pay-what-you-can scale. All proceeds will go toward the production of future U-Turn programs. While participation is open to the public, advanced registration is required to receive an art kit.

When schools were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, Dana Reed, the Executive Director for Upturn Arts, spent a lot of time looking at other national organizations and chatted with other local nonprofits to come up with a plan. However, her own personal experience as a parent working from home was the real genesis for this virtual camp.

“I was at home for 14 days by myself with a 5-year-old and trying to work at the same time. In that experience, I really figured out what worked for us and what didn’t and what our challenges were. That’s what the U-turn art kit came from. You don’t need to get supplies from the store. You don’t need the computer. They can do most of it by themselves when they want to, and the focus of the lesson plans is benchmarks, realizing that many kids may have missed some of those in the homeschool period,” says Reed.

If you have more of an active musician in your home, the School of Rock is also offering virtual camps and lessons from Rock 101 camps, along with private lessons offered via video conferencing as well as their own materials. While there are traditional music lessons and workshops, they also offer music theory and song writing, meaning your kids can make music in more ways than one. All camps have minimums and maximums, and alternatives will be offered if space is lacking.

While rock and roll and YouTube seems new wave, even some traditional camps have moved online. Scouts Louisiana East is hosting two free Facebook Live camping events. The first was in June, but the second will be 5:30-7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 18, for grades 4-12. Participants are encouraged to pitch a tent in their yard or build a pillow fort to sleep in. Register online to receive an activity packet and follow along with our experienced camp guides on Facebook Live.

As summer moves along and more things start opening, there’s no doubt that local organizations will continue to do more, but, in the meantime, the creativity and ingenuity of local leaders in adapting their programs for our city’s children continues to be a source of hope and inspiration.


Just the Facts:

Upturn Arts U-Turn Camps:
More information will be released on their website throughout summer.
Registration is on a pay-what-you-can scale, but the kits cost about $100 to make and donations are welcome.

School of Rock Camps:
Weeklong camps for an hour a day are about $100 a week.

Girl Scout Camp In Camp Out Session 3:

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