Slide into Summer with Fun & Educational Camps
Photography provided by YMCA of Greater Cincinnati
The days are getting longer and temperatures are getting warmer – summer will be here soon and school will be out.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills over the summer. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement.
The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is closing that learning gap in many ways, including their wide array of summer camps. The Y welcomes more than 2,000 day campers at 13 branch locations throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
“The Y focuses not only on having fun outdoors, but we also make sure to integrate learning into the campers’ daily activities,” says Sheila Hinton, executive director of the Clermont Family YMCA. “We incorporate problem solving, team-building activities, summer reading and more.”
For example, campers discovered how many rubber bands could fit around a watermelon before it would implode. “There were math and science aspects that went into that experiment, but it was also just a really fun outdoor activity for the children,” Hinton says.
Studies have shown that summer camps help children build psychosocial development, as well as bolstering their resilience. Camps at the Y are the perfect opportunity for children to develop relationships with other campers and counselors.
“A lot of social skills are learned, like how to have empathy toward others,” says Hinton. “Our camps serve a wide range of communities and children interact with others who aren’t necessarily in their school system.”
In our digital age, summer camp provides tangible, hands-on activities that are often very different from what children experience at home. Spontaneous outdoor activities, such as building a fort or hiking in the woods, are healthy deviations from technology-laden lives.
Camps have a weekly theme with an educational basis wrapped in fun activities. Master Chef, Camper Edition is an example where the theme involves plenty of cooking, which leads to lessons in math and science.
Each camper’s week is highlighted by field trips or a special event to provide additional opportunities for education and fun. Dates and locations differ from camp to camp, but can include trips to the zoo, a museum or rollerskating, among others.
Days are structured with a blend of physical activities and educational components. And for some campers, that structure is invaluable.
“We had a camper who, at the end of camp, told me he loved coming every day because camp was his consistency,” says Samantha Mosby, senior program director at the M.E. Lyons YMCA in Anderson Township. “He said he knew what time lunch was, what activities he would do throughout the day, and he didn’t have that routine at home. He really clung to the experience.”
The Y has 13 branch locations offering summer camp options for ages ranging from 5 to 17. Groups and activities are based on age, but can be adjusted to accommodate learning abilities.
The Leaders in Training (LIT) program is available for ages 13-15 who would like to help at camp with the guidance of a mentor counselor. “We have a 30-minute reading period after lunch each day,” says Mosby. “The LIT members help by reading to the 5- and 6-year-olds who may not be able to read yet.”
A Counselor in Training (CIT) program is available for ages 16-17 and prepares teens to become camp counselors through leadership training and career readiness.
“We have a 15-year-old girl with special needs who volunteered with the 5- and 6-year-old campers,” says Mosby. “Her mom said it was a phenomenal experience and her daughter was incredibly enthusiastic and proud.”
For kids, camp is the perfect blend of independence and responsibility while also helping them learn how to make friends, work as a team and get along in a group environment.
For information about YMCA of Greater Cincinnati summer camps, you can reach them at 513.362.9622 or visit their website at www.cincinnatiymca.org.