How COVID-19 made us transition into online camps

This is a story about a company that was able to quickly react and transition to help parents and children around the world to retain a level of normalcy in their everyday routines, despite being the midst of a world pandemic.

Big Idea runs a summer camp for technology where they invest in developing technological, creative and social skills in children and teens from Israel and abroad.

Without hesitation, Big Idea converted their summer camp into an online course, helping parents to find a solution for educating and entertaining their children while they are in the home. In just 10 days, they managed to enroll more than 1000 campers.

Dotan Tamir, Big Idea’s CEO, explained that “just a couple of days before school closure was in place in Israel, we realized how important it would be for the kids to maintain some kind of daily routine. How valuable non-formal education will become for parents – who will have a hard time adjusting to this new reality. And how this incredible challenge can become a time for growth and for gaining new skills for kids.”

During the time that most big companies were either firing their employees or sending them home with unpaid vacation, the talented team at Big Idea was spending sleepless nights developing Big@Home; a complex online system that was completed entirely from the home, and in a fraction of the time.

The guidelines for Big@Home were clear:

  • Completely live interaction in small groups – or as close as we can get to the real deal camp.
  • A mix of skill learning (from our variety of tech workshops) and camp-style fun learning.
  • Dedicated practice – at least 3 hours every day, so parents can get the quiet time they need.
  • High standard of staff, supervision, and communication with parents.
  • Real value for the family, so we can make sure parents would be willing to invest in it.

Tamir also spoke about the situation of finding talented staff to commit their time to the program. Stating, “we knew that staffing would be a challenge, but also an opportunity for so many students and young professionals who had to stop their routine. We are still amazed by the over 800 staff applications we saw within 3 days. At that point, each team member at Big idea changed the scope of their job to assist in building the program and preparing for the first session. Camp directors, staff recruitment, marketing, content development, customer support, and more.”

To help take on the task ahead, Big Idea partnered with Intel Israel. Many of the employees at Intel Israel were already sending their children to Big Idea’s Summer Camp. They subsidized Big Idea’s online camp for every child of an employee at Intel – to help provide beneficial solutions for parents so that they could focus on work.

The Israel Medicine Association also partnered with Big Idea to help subsidize the online camp for the children of doctors and other medical staff.

Tamir proudly announced that “the first session feedback was incredible. Parents gave it 9.57 out of 10.I found myself entering the virtual “labs”, and checking out the action in the workshops, just like in camp. The kids were creating, dancing, free to be themselves. It felt a bit like science fiction. With the second session running now, there have been over 1000 campers who joined us so far, through an automatic enrollment system.״

Two weeks ago Big@Home was opened for the American audience. There are American counselors that are leading the groups abroad to maintain the time difference. Big Idea’s Israeli team is running and coordinating the teams in the United States and sharing the spirit of the start-up nation.

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Partnerships are a part of our DNA. We’re interested  in partnering with organizations in the U.S., so that we can offer this excellent program for the kids of their communities. We are happy to connect with anyone that would like to learn more and explore collaboration opportunities.

We hope that this period will pass quickly, and in the meanwhile please be safe and stay at home.

About the Author
I'm an entrepreneur with vast experience in leading educational initiatives and am passionate about bringing new ideas to life. The opportunity to make an impact through innovation and technology is my every-day motivation. I was gifted with the skill to naturally build great relationships and networks, which translates to business opportunities and international partnerships. Currently, I’m building the future of online enrichment education at Clickto, while supporting multiple non-profits as a board member. Clickto is a young start-up reshaping the world of online enrichment education. As the Co-Founder, I'm focused on building the business side of the company, on our path to make a large-scale impact worldwide. Since 2014, I have been active in making an impact on youth worldwide through BIGIDEA, together with my partner Dotan Tamir. BIGIDEA is a leading organization in Israel and in the Jewish communities around the world delivering incredible non-formal educational experiences in the fields of innovation, STEM, and digital creativity. Through my network in the US, we have branched out to many new locations in the New York metro area, Chicago, DC, and Houston. I hold an MBA in Business from TLV university. I was the founder and CEO of Lafayette, a leading toy distributor with a mission to impact youth learning. Part of my success stories at Lafayette was the exclusive distribution licenses for brands such as Disney, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Looney Tunes, and more. I have developed the business strategy, marketing, and sales operations and brought the company to generate 25M in annual sales.