Virtual Camp Technology Instructions

Our Virtual Summer Camps work to balance a highly interactive learning experience while minimizing complexity and respecting your privacy. This page provides some information to prepare you for the camp and help you if you have a problem. If you are a student, we recommend you read this page along with your parents, especially the tips on having a safe online learning experience.

Videos of these instructions can be found on this YouTube playlist.


In order to effectively participate in the camp, we ask that you have access to the following hardware and software. If your camp has any special requirements, you will be informed ahead of time by the camp instructor and on the camp webpage.





Best: Computer with Internet Connection
A computer (desktop/laptop) with a keyboard is the best way to connect to our virtual meeting space. In some cases you may need to type answers in the chat box or visit other websites during the camp. Most computers (Windows PC, Mac, Linux) purchased within the last 5 years should be able to run the meeting software (see the SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS section below to test your equipment).

OK: Tablet with an Internet Connection
It may be possible to connect to our camp using a tablet, and you may need to install an app to connect to the meetings (see the SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS section below to test). For a tablet, be sure that you have a stand or case that allows you to see the tablet clearly while you are working on any lab activities.

Not recommended: Smartphone
We don’t recommend a smartphone to connect because it may be difficult to see the video and type responses or visit websites as needed. If you have a problem connecting, you might try a phone as a last resort.

Potentially not recommended: Chromebooks
Students may have school-issued chromebooks. While these can work, there may be restrictions placed on these computers by school district IT departments which may prevent you from using or running needed software. See the SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS section below to test.

Webcam (Required)
We want a chance to see all of our campers! We ask that you have a webcam available so that we can see you at least during our start of class check-in. During the camp, instructors will give instructions on when it is appropriate for cameras to be on or off.

Microphone (Required)
We highly recommend being able to use a microphone (if your computer has one; most newer computers and tablets will). Headphones or earbuds with microphones will also work (if needed, make sure sure they are fully charged before the camp). Another option to consider is a comfortable headset with a microphone to listen with less distraction.

Tip: Try to make sure you are in a comfortable space for the camp where you can watch and listen during the instructional portion of the camp. For our “wet lab” camps, you will need to have a desk or table space nearby for your hands-on experiments/activities. The KidsHealth website ( ) recommends keeping computers in a common area of the house (perhaps a kitchen, living room, or den).


You will need a web browser to visit camp-related websites. We recommend Firefox ( ) or Chrome ( ).

Camp sessions will use secure, password-protected Zoom video conferencing. The Zoom link and password will be unique to your camp session, and all sessions will have an instructor and a moderator to ensure our code of conduct is enforced. Here are the software instructions for setting up Zoom on your computer or tablet:

Installing Zoom on your computer: Download the ZOOM CLIENT and follow instructions for your operating system:

Installing Zoom on your tablet:
Apple Devices:
Android Devices:

Zoom provides a “Test Meeting” to allow you to ensure you can connect to the meeting and that your audio and video connection are working.


Go to and follow the directions.

Although Zoom is very reliable, there is always a chance that this technology may fail during one of our camps. If this is the case, we will use Google Meet ( ) as a backup. If we determine that Zoom becomes unusable during a camp, you will be notified by email/Google Classroom (See ACCOUNTS below) for a meeting code.

Joining Google Meet: Generally you should be able to join from any web browser without any special technology or setup more than what you needed for Zoom. Joining from a mobile device may require the Google Meet app ( - scroll to see MEET ON ANY DEVICE ): For help with Google Meet see their instructions:



Here are some simple instructions for signing into your Zoom meeting:

  1. 15 minutes before class, click the camp Zoom link. You will be provided a link for your camp. The Zoom link may/or may not include a password, so only enter the password if asked. If you have installed Zoom software (computer) or App (mobile device) you can also join by entering the provided meeting ID. NOTE: Please enter your first name and last initial when joining or your will not be admitted. We will only admit campers on our roster of students.


  2. Wait to be accepted into the Zoom meeting. You will see a waiting room screen. If you are asked to provide your name in the Zoom app (on your computer or mobile device) make sure you use your first name and the initial of your last name (e.g. Mary Smith would be Mary S., Jared Jones would be Jared J., etc.)

  3. Meetings will open approximately 10 minutes before the start of the camp session


    After entering the waiting room, you should be admitted within a few  minutes: Please enter your first name and last initial when joining or you will not be admitted. We will only admit campers on our roster of students.


  4. When you enter the room, enable your camera and microphone. You will be muted on entry. When entering for the first time, we’ll also want to see your face. You can rename yourself by clicking on your name in the participants menu. If you have an (appropriate) preferred name or nickname you may use this. If your computer supports it, you may also use a ZOOM VIRTUAL BACKGROUND (, but please ensure your background image is appropriate for the classroom.

    Go to the participants menu at the bottom of your screen

    Click MORE next to your name to rename yourself if desired


  5. When you have a comment, use the RAISE HAND feature to let your instructor know. You will then be unmuted to comment.


Personal email account
At registration, an email address was provided, to which all camp communications have been sent. If this email address is going to a parent, please make sure the parent and camper are in touch to share any last minute email notifications.

Google Classroom
For live and on-demand camps, we will be using Google Classroom to organize materials (e.g. video, handouts) and post announcements.

What you will need to join Google Classroom:

  • If you have a Google/Gmail Account
    If you already have a Google/Gmail account, you will be able to join the classroom and should not need to do anything else.
    Note: If you have a Google/Gmail account through your school, there may be restrictions on your account. If you experience an issue, try following the directions for those without account.
  • If you DON’T have a Google/Gmail Account  
    You will need a Google account to sign in to your live or on-demand class (this does not mean you need to change or get a new email).

What you will need to sign up:

  1. An email address - preferably one the camper can access, but this is optional
  2. A cell phone (optional) - you may get a one-time text message from Google to confirm your account

Note: The camper must also meet the minimum age limit (13 years old) to sign up for an account. If the camper does not meet this limit, the parent/guardian will need to complete the sign up on their behalf. We encourage all parents/guardians to be part of the internet account creation process for campers of all ages.

Step-by-Step Signup

  1. (Optional) If any Google/Gmail accounts are active on your computer and you do not want to use them to sign into the classroom, log out of all Google services by visiting this link:
  2. One week prior to the live camp (or when on-demand camp materials are opened) you will get an email with a link to join the Google classroom. This is your personal link, please do not share. Click the JOIN button to join the class.

  4. This will bring you to a sign-in page. If you do not have a Gmail account you are using, choose Create account.


  5. Then choose to create an account For myself.


  6. At this stage, you are free to create a new Gmail account if you wish (this is a new, free email account). However, you do not need to create a new mail account. We recommend clicking Use my current email address instead.


  7. Enter your name, email address, and choice of password.


  8. A verification code will be sent to your email address. Login to that email address and enter the code to continue.


  9. Once you have entered the verification code, you will complete your sign up. The phone number entered at this stage is OPTIONAL. The birthday and gender of the account holder are entered (as required by law and Google policy). Account holders must be at least 13 years old to access Google services. If the camper does not meet this requirement, the parent or guardian should complete this signup.


  10. Google will present its privacy and terms of service policies, you must accept to continue. Click I Agree.


  11. Finally, to join the class you will be presented with the screen below. Click JOIN to join the class.


  12. When you see the classroom welcome screen click CONTINUE to enter the class.


We remind you of the CAMP CODE OF CONDUCT and ask that you remember to do the following:

  • When you connect to Zoom, use your preferred first name and last initial (when you join, you can right-click to rename yourself if needed).
  • Do not take screenshots or screen recordings of the class or your classmates (this is actually illegal ). If we learn of any such recordings we will ask you to remove them and follow up with any failures to comply.
  • We do want you to have a good time and you can share (with your parent’s permission) photos and videos of your classwork as long as they do not contain photos of other campers outside of your family. Photos may include one of the instructors if you ask and receive their permission.
  • For the safest online experience, do not exchange personal information with other campers (home addresses, phone numbers, etc.).
  • We recommend parents read and discuss online internet safety rules such as KidsHealth ( ).


We hope that these instructions help you avoid technology problems during the camp. If you need help, please make sure you have reviewed these instructions. If you are trying to connect and nothing is working please contact


  • First last name and of the camper;
  • The name of the camp with which you have an issue attending;
  • Describe the technology you are connecting from (i.e. A Mac laptop, The Zoom App on an Android tablet, etc.);
  • Please provide the number of a cell phone so we can contact you if we cannot quickly address your problem by mail;
  • Describe the issue you are having.


A: Several months ago, there were media reports of safety/privacy issues that correspond with a 20-fold increase in Zoom users. This mainly came from the posting of unsecure, unmoderated Zoom links on the internet, allowing “trolls” to join and disrupt these meetings. Since then, Zoom has taken a number of steps to improve safety, privacy, and moderation of their platform. We take advantage of these in a number of ways:

  1. Zoom links are only available to registered participants.
  2. We have password-protected classrooms that use a “waiting room” feature. This allows us to verify that only known users have access to our rooms.
  3. In addition to our primary instructor, we also have a moderator instructor. This moderator is a DNALC educator who helps us to achieve a 1:10 instructor to student ratio, answer questions, and ensure students are in a well-supervised environment.

While no online platform is totally safe, secure, and private we believe Zoom’s safety features, reliability, and accessibility features help us deliver the best experience.

A: While a virtual camp is definitely not 100% equivalent to an in-person camp, it’s currently the lowest-risk option for learning during the pandemic. We are taking advantage of several technology features to make for the most positive learning experience:

  1. We are using “screen time” efficiently to avoid having campers glued to a computer for lengthy time periods. As with our normal instruction, our normal instruction we will mix short lecture presentations with virtual and hands-on activities.
  2. Zoom meetings will make use of “breakout rooms” so that small teams of campers can work more closely with a few other campers working on shared lab activities as we do in our in-person camps.
  3. We are using Google Classroom so that campers can post and answer questions in discussions that take place in the time between live Zoom sessions.

A: Zoom is one of the better online meeting platforms for accessibility but it is by no means perfect. You can read more about the platform features here: Some of these features may need to be specially enabled. Often both the camper and instructor may not automatically know ahead of time what accessibility features should be in place so we  recommend that you CONTACT US ( to discuss your needs.

A: If you are getting a message “Please wait for the host to start this meeting” check to make sure you have the correct start time of the camp. Typically the camp will be open at least 10 minutes before the start of the session. If you get the message “Please wait, the meeting host will let you in soon.” please wait to be admitted. NOTE: to be admitted, you should enter your first name and last initial when you join the meeting (e.g. Sally S.) and that must match our list of enrolled students. If you have waited and think you should be able to join, email for assistance.