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Scottsdale Arts Revives Camp Dreamtree As Virtual Camp For Kids

Spring break 2020 was a real turning point. The pandemic shut down schools and life as we knew it. A year later, there’s cautious optimism that things might soon be back to normal. But for many, spring break still looks different — less travel, fewer playdates. Knowing that, husband-and-wife team, and Valley-based artists, Roy Wasson Valle and Koryn Woodward Wasson created a camp experience that exists mostly in the mind.

Camp Dreamtree began as an in-person, interactive public art experience held in the summer of 2014 at the Scottsdale Public Library. Now, the city’s public art program has brought it back as a week-long virtual camp — where kids can participate in arts and crafts projects, interact with characters and nurture a sense of wonder as they spend time in Crystal Burn, an imaginary land that’s home to a camp run by a man named Evan Stevens. It’s all part of a collaboration between Koryn and Roy that mixes fantasy with real life.

"When we work together, I'm the storyteller," Wasson said. "So I do all of the writing about our world and telling the narrative of the place that we're creating. And then Roy sort of makes that come to life. You know, he interprets that visually and creates what it looks like, which is pretty amazing."

That might mean a giant treehouse with a cyclops eye or a 16-foot girl brought to life in your backyard, thanks to technology.

Families that registered early received a kit in the mail, but you can have your own camp experience online with access to augmented reality programs and video demonstrations of craft projects you can complete with materials from around the house.

"You don't have to go out and buy things in order to be a dream scout. You just have to take the pledge and be a part of it," Wasson said.

Camp Dreamtree is holding two one-week sessions, with a free, virtual jamboree for both groups on March 13. There will be crafts, stories, dancing and, if you like, you can take the Camp Dreamtree pledge, which both Valle and Wasson demonstrated:

"On my honor, I pledge to be kind, present and to hold high respect for wonder. I will remember that I am small, but part of the whole,"

To learn more about Camp Dreamtree and register for Saturday’s jamboree, visit scottsdaleartslearning.org.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.