Camp Christmas Is Going Virtual in 2020 | Westword

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...Thanks to Lonnie Hanzon

Camp Christmas will be virtual in 2020.
Camp Christmas in will look different this year.
Camp Christmas in will look different this year. Ken Hamblin III
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Did you miss all the fun of camp this summer? Don't worry: Christmas is coming.

And once again playing a very creative Santa Claus is Denver artrepreneur Lonnie Hanzon, who last year unwrapped the wildly successful Camp Christmas at Stanley Marketplace, which attracted over 70,000 happy campers. But that was before the coronavirus lump of coal shut down so many entertainment activities, particularly immersive experiences that rely on in-person magic. Experiences like Camp Christmas.

Now, Hanzon promises, "You can't go to Camp Christmas, but we're bringing Camp Christmas to you."

This time the experience will be virtual, of course, and also considerably downscaled from what Hanzon had been anticipating for 2020. His initial plans went beyond reprising his holiday extravaganza at Stanley Marketplace; he'd been approached to create camps in other venues around the country. "I thought it was my career for the next five years," he says.

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Plans for Camp Christmas in 2020.
Lonnie Hanzon
Now he's putting what he can of the original camp extravaganza online, doing it almost all by himself, with help from experts he's worked with over the years at Hanzon Studios...which happens to be his home. "I'm trying to build it, scale it quickly," he says. "I think people are going to need Christmas. ... This is a way to use the brand and the content. There won't be as much history, but I'm going to have the camp."

Camp will be available on a number of levels, from an $8 buy-in for Base Camp, which gets the camper an actual letter from the camp director ("Moi," says Hanzon), as well as a link to a digital world "that I've been madly drawing," where you check into a lodge or cabin and unlock a variety of "gamified" activities.

The five main packages are built around merit badges, which range from $35 to $55. "With those, you get all the ingredients to do activities that we direct you to on the digital site," he explains. "The Light box has a compass, candles, and you do things like measure your shadows." Celebration is "all about drinks and cocktails," and with Sweets, you build a gingerbread house. Buy the full set, and camp tops out at about $250.

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Camp Christmas is going virtual in 2020.
Ken Hamblin III
While camp will be in session starting in mid-November, it will really rev up on December 1, with an activity countdown until Christmas, almost like an online advent calendar.  "We're doing what we can do that's safe, and hopefully a lot of fun," says Hanzon. "It's a way to celebrate."

While Hanzon is limited on time and budget, there are no limits to his creativity. "I'm drawing the camp of my dreams," he says. "I'm having a blast. People are so hungry to escape."

And he's here to help. Santa's coming!

Sign up for Camp Christmas, presented by Hanzon Studios, in association with DCPA Off-Center, starting November 1; campers can begin their adventures on November 12. Sign up for the Camp Christmas newsletter here.
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