The running community is one big inclusive, supportive family. Right now, this family is missing our regular community gatherings: the races we look forward to annually, social evening group runs, weekly team workouts, and the simple ability to cover miles together with ease. For me, the most jarring absence is that of running camps here at the Outdoor Center. Running camps are typically the focal point of my summers: leading runners through intensive week-long camps filled with group workouts, evening lectures, long chatty dining hall meals, and adventures around the Northeast Kingdom. This summer the campus is quiet and empty, with no visits from our running camp family on the horizon.

Today’s social distancing calls us all to adjust and adapt. Virtual reality may not be as familiar as our in-person norms, but it is a tool we can use to our advantage. Rather than wish away a summer sans camps and races, why not harness the means of connection we do have access to?

Virtual running camp seeks to do just that: provide runners with a space to set new goals, develop new friendships, and expand our running community. Together through the month-long program, runners are able to dig into their training, establish productive habits, and see progress over the four weeks of camp. Runners may come to camp for many different reasons; some feeling aimless without races to target and others looking for motivation to get out for a run three days a week. Whatever the reason, virtual running camp is an opportunity for runners of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to come together and grow through the limitations of shutdown. As a community, we can get stronger, faster, and well-equipped for the challenges we want to tackle ahead.

Now in the third week of our first month-long session, I not only see the positive impacts of virtual camp, but also some unexpected benefits we don’t get through typical running camp. Mainly, the month-long format allows runners to get into a training rhythm, solidify positive habits, and see our own and other’s progress. We also get to know each other in a more real-world context as we balance our work and personal lives with camp. I’m truly impressed by how well our community and teams have bonded and gotten to know each other through the virtual camp platforms.

For me, virtual running camp is a welcome reminder that the Craftsbury running community extends beyond the place itself, and is most rooted in people . While we cannot share the physical magic and mystique of beautiful Craftsbury this summer, we can share the opportunity to connect and grow together. If you are looking to establish positive habits and expand your running family, I encourage you to join us. Virtual running camp might just be the spark you are looking for to add more joy and meaning to your running.

So, how exactly does it work? Here’s a bit more on how our virtual running camp is structured:

Who: Any runner looking for training structure and community connection. Camps are composed of up to thirty running campers and five coaches. At the beginning of camp, runners are broken up into small group teams with a team coach. Every runner also gets paired up with an accountability buddy, with whom you can check-in with throughout the month to offer support, encouragement, and, of course, accountability.

When: Each week is structured around three scheduled sessions. These include 1) a workshop led by dynamic guest speakers with the full camp community; 2) a team meeting with your small group and team coach; and 3) an individual coaching session with your team coach. Workshops are scheduled weekly in the evenings, while team and individual sessions are scheduled separately with your team coach.

What: In addition to these weekly sessions, every runner receives an individualized training plan built together by you and your team coach. Your coach provides feedback on workouts or questions that arise throughout the week through a shared training log. Our shared “Camp Library” also includes instructional strength, core, and warm-up video routines, as well as yoga flows, book club recommendations, and Craftsbury recipes. Plus, every camper receives a camp care package with goodies from our favorite local small businesses, some Craftsbury running swag, and discounts to UnTapped and Skirack.

How: Virtual running camp relies on Zoom, Slack, and Google Sheets to meet as a group with ease and connect regularly throughout the week. Through these platforms, your coaches, team, accountability buddy, and camp community are there to cheer you, all along the way.

Session II runs July 5-30. For full details on the camp schedule and registration, head over to our virtual camp page here: