From the Blog

Summer Camp’s Role in Combating Summer Learning Loss

One of the new “buzz” terms in education is Summer Learning Loss. This refers to a trend in which children return to school following summer vacation having regressed in both literacy and mathematical computation skills. 


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This dilemma has been proven statistically valid as research shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. Similarly, most students average two full months of learning loss following summer vacation meaning that every day of vacation, sadly, is detrimental to their education progress. 
At YMCA Camp Bernie, we are both committed to the educational growth of children, as well as being passionate about the benefits of a summer camp experience for kids. Fortunately, these two objectives are not at odds; in fact, research has proven that summer camp is a successful means to slow the effects of summer learning loss. Fear not, educators, for the solution to summer learning loss does not have to be expansion of summer school or year round schooling. Getting more children to summer camp is a perfect alternative. 
We’ve long believed that summer camp is the perfect partner to classroom learning; much like Outdoor Education programs. Camp offers experiential learning, the chance to navigate and it teaches concepts like “resourcefulness” and “resilience”. Of course, such concepts don’t lend themselves well to quantitative research so camps, like YMCA Camp Bernie, are well served to offer concrete opportunities for children to learn while having fun in the sun. 
Among the possibilities: making reflection a part of the child’s day at camp through journaling, letter writing or our very own tradition of holding nightly “cabin chats”. These sharing sessions allow kids to practice their communication skills and to identify the positive experiences they are having in our setting. Camps can also assist in literacy development by having built in reading time, or by starting a camp library. Campers at our camp, and many others, engage in service learning projects through our programs. We have leadership development opportunities, as well as activities that challenge their minds artistically, creatively and through exploration of our natural world. 
Therefore, from the perspective of the camping world, our goal in combating Summer Learning Loss should not be expanding the school year, but rather in finding ways to get every child into camp each summer. Not surprisingly, the Summer Learning Loss problem is most prevalent in lower income children who haven’t been given access to summer programs such as camp. YMCA Camp Bernie is committed to the ideal that all children deserve a camping experience. Summer Learning Loss is a very real problem, which we believe has a simple solution. Send them to us for the summer, and we will have them back to you in the fall ready for progress. 


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