This last school year has been hard for many kids and summer break usually been a reprieve from classroom time, but one summer activity could actually help your child prepare for fall.
One of the Tri-State's largest summer camps is preparing for another successful and exciting season as the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA gears up to welcome a few hundred local kids for their 8-week camp.
"We are planning some academics to really cover that summer learning loss in the mornings and then we have some great field trips lined up.," said the Y's program coordinator Jalisa Ottken.
The Y's annual summer camp has it all, from academic activities like science, technology, and math, to field trips, activities, games, and everything in between. All in an effort to prevent the summer learning loss kids experience over the summer months.
For the Y's camp organizers, they have the added planning of COVID-19 protocols for staff and campers, something they had to do last season a well.
"There are a few CDC recommendations in place that we are going to keep, the social distancing, wearing your masks, students and staff," Ottken said.
Summer camps don't just help with the summer learning loss, they also provide kids with many other skills that they need to excel later on in life.
"Many summer camps offer different activities. So not just intellectual where they are stimulating their minds, but also learning different things that they may never come into contact with within school."
Rashel Bark is the clinical manager at Siouxland Mental Health. She says summer camps, whether they are summer long, week, long, or day camps, can help kids of all ages and abilities grow as individuals in ways they don't while at school.
"Children learn by play," Bark said. "So it's a wonderful thing for them to be able to be in a less structured environment where it's still having some routine and some guidance, but it's not so structured like a school day setting because it really allows them to have some flexibility and freedom and creativity in their day and that produces a whole other set of skills."
After a hectic and sometimes unpredictable school year, summer camp can help kids prepare to return to class in the fall.
"It's really important because we don't want to see kids lagging behind in areas," Bark said. "It can cause long-term implications, both in their academic careers and their socializations later on in life and the way they build friendships."
Summer activities like camp can introduce kids to others outside of their usual group of friends, expanding their social circle and knowledge of others.
"It's really important for kids to get out there and be able to learn in a way that is meaningful to them," Bark said. "Connect with people that they may never get to connect with. And have opportunities to enjoy activities that they may never get exposed to except through a summer camp. It really increases all of their skills socially and academically in every direction."
For the Y, that's the goal, along with having a lot of fun.
"I'm just excited to meet all of the kids and get the program rolling and off the ground," said youth program director Lucas Briggs. He, along with all of the staff at the Y, is counting down the days until they can welcome their campers back for a summer of learning, growing, and most importantly, fun.
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