By Oma Amores
Summer is traditionally a time for kids to have fun after a busy school year. This has been a school year like no other, with many students spending some—or all—of their time learning remotely. A year with limited opportunities to socialize with peers and engage in fun activities like sports and arts could have lasting impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of children.
This year parents are looking to find enriching summer activities that support their children academically, and help them rebuild their social skills and form bonds with other kids, while giving them space to have fun.
Fortunately, many community organizations throughout the City offer the perfect solution to help children experience some summer fun while developing resilience, self-esteem, creativity, independence and critical thinking skills: summer day camp.
The right camp can help address summer—and school year—learning loss
On average, kids lose one month of learning over the summer break. By providing fun, academically-oriented activities, camp programs can engage your child’s brain and halt the “summer slide.” Increasingly, camps are providing more science, engineering, technology, arts and music programming.
It is impossible to know how much learning loss students have suffered the past year due to remote learning. Academically enriching activities such as trips to museums and creative writing are more important than ever this summer. Additionally, it’s been shown that the physical activities traditionally associated with summer camp have long-term benefits for academic performance.
Kids need in-person social connection after a year of isolation
Last summer, Greenwich House was one of the only summer camp programs open in the City. Campers had finished the school year remotely, and most of them hadn’t socialized with kids their own age in four months. During that period, we noticed their socialization skills had dropped dramatically. But as the summer progressed, things improved. Kids began to gain confidence and became more comfortable socializing with each other.
Studies have shown that the disruptions to daily life brought on by the pandemic, including social isolation, have had a tremendous impact on children and adolescents, and could have long-term effects on their physical and mental well being. It’s crucial that kids spend time this summer socializing with their peers.
Responsible camps are taking measures to keep everyone safe
When we opened our camp last July, there was a lot of understandable fear and hesitation from parents. But we, like others, launched our program with three basic principles always in mind: take time and care to protect our campers, our staff, and our broader community; and as parents saw those principles in action they became more comfortable with sending their children to camp.
Last summer we kept groups small and followed guidelines and best practices. This year, as circumstances and protocols continue to evolve, we plan to adapt with them, keeping campers in groups being mindful of social distancing.
Kids need some fun after a year of so much loss
It’s been a difficult and stressful year for everyone, and our kids have felt that stress too. They need an opportunity to decompress in a fun and enriching environment, while discovering new talents and interests and forming lifelong friendships and memories.
Camp runs July 6th – August 27th
Omar Amores is the Director of the Greenwich House Youth Community Center. Greenwich House’s Summer STEAM Camp runs from July 6 through August 27. This summer, the Greenwich House Music School is offering PLAYBILL’D, a theater-making intensive for children ages 8 through 11, from July 19 through July 30. For more information, visit GreenwichHouse.org.