‘It’s just one big family’: VCU grads, students bring virtual ‘summer camp’ to life for advertising students

Positively Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A group of VCU students and graduates are giving students across the world the chance to get hands-on experience through a virtual ‘summer camp.’

Camp Adventure, formed by members of VCU’s Advertising Club, is a free, eight week virtual camp that allows 200 students from 64 universities the chance to master the advertising world from the comfort of their homes.

Organizers Courtney Foster, Kevin Nguyen, Allison Farrell, and assistant professor Jessica Collins said they saw the need when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled scholarships and summer plans.

“A lot of my friends were still in school and like Kevin, they all lost their internship opportunities so I went to Jess and was I like ‘let’s create like a workshop or resume building event,” Foster told 8News. “We didn’t really know what it was.”

The team quickly pulled together speakers and formed a plan.

The students, or campers, work in ‘bunks’ to create a campaign for The International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a global non-profit that seeks to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation.

“It’s a structured program so every week is meant to complete a different task that is very similar to how real life agency pitches are run,” Collins, an assistant professor of advertising at the Robertson School stated.

Campers can also work together on passion projects.

“Pride initiatives – we have people working on black owned businesses – everyone is working for ICMEC and could be working on other passion projects,” Collins told 8News.

The program ends July 31 when campers will be judged and have the opportunity to work with some of the most notable figures in the industry.

An image of a July 13 camp meeting.

The team gathered dozens of professionals – including ones from Disney and Google – to act as mentors, speakers and counselors. Collins says it was all about networking.

“At first we had a very structured plan where we sort of asked our friends that also happened to be amazing people in the industry, but then it just sort of took on this organic growth,” Collins said.

Farrell, the incoming president of the Advertising Club, says the experience helped fill a void for students missing out on internships and work experience because of COVID-19.

“It seems like it’s fulfilling that thing that people lacked,” she said.

“All of these things are happening from camp that just started as ‘Hey, let’s give people something to do over the summer, and it’s become way bigger, way more impactful and way more powerful than we thought it would ever be,” Collins expressed.

To learn more about the camp, click here.

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