'A Place Beyond': Friendly Pines camp offers college students unique site to take online courses

With so many college students earning their degrees online right now, a camp up north is offering them a unique and scenic place to study.

A unique college experience has sprung out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've been internally calling it the "NBA of the mountains," said Ciaran Willis.

Facing the threat of COVID-19, many college students did not want to return to a traditional campus. Instead, they found "a place beyond" at Friendly Pines Camp near Prescott.

"A place beyond is an in-person learning community for students who are studying remotely right now. These are college students who either can't or don't want to go back to their normal campus this fall because of COVID-19," said Willis.

35 college students from all over are studying here.

"We have 35 students here right now and they're representing I think over 27 universities from all over the country," said Willis. "As COVID was happening, we had all these students who are independently connecting with online education providers and they need a place to be.. and so I wanted to help out the students and the camps."

They focus on keeping COVID out by testing everyone every week.

"For this first month, we are just staying here on campus and on the trails of the national forest nearby."

There's room for 30 more.

"We're starting a new intake of students for Oct. 10 through Dec. 22. We have some more capacity up here and we want to open it up in a safe and responsible way," said Willis.

The camp says weekly COVID tests are required and so far, their strategy is working because no one has tested positive.

Friendly Pines Camp
933 E. Friendly Pines Rd.
Prescott, AZ 86303
(928) 445-2128