2012-03-23 / Columnists

New Kid On The Boardwalk

Y Summer Camp Is Serious Stuff
Commentary By Jack Lund, Arverne By The Sea Y

Construction on the new Rockaways YMCA at Arverne by the Sea continues to progress.

The walls of the foundation are taking form, pile caps are being filled, and the entire site continues to be dewatered.

As the weather begins to warm up, the days grow longer, and the trees begin to bloom, it’s obvious that summer is right around the corner. And summer is the season that things really heat up at the Y. In fact, each year, we serve more than 10,000 New York City kids in our day and sleepaway camps.

From May to September, you can hear the echo of hundreds of tiny voices singing songs and performing plays, the happy thunder of thousands of little feet playing basketball and other sports when you walk into any of our 20 Y’s through the five boroughs.

Beyond the city, thousands of children escape the concrete jungle and experience the joys of nature at our New York YMCA Camp located in Huguenot, New York.

From learning to swim to canoeing, from hiking to biking, from toasting marshmallows around an open fire to making new friends that last a lifetime, camp is a wonderful time for kids to get their first taste of independence and to learn some new skills.

At the Y, we take camp seriously. It’s not just a place where kids stay occupied; our programs have been developed to challenge children intellectually to help combat summer loss.

According to the Center for Summer Learning, most students lose approximately two months of grade level equivalency in math computation skills during the summer months.

Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle class peers make slight gains.

Research spanning 100 years demonstrates 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. Right now, two-thirds of ninth-grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities, contributing to fewer disadvantaged youth graduating from high school or entering college.

That’s why each Y camper is challenged to read, write, and respond in all of our summer camp activities.

As the summer approaches, it’s important for parents to start planning activities for their kids, and finding the right camp can be difficult. It’s important to talk to your kids to find out what they want to do, and then find the right fit.

Y branches around the city have a number of events leading up to the summer camp season.

Healthy Kids Day, occurring this year on Saturday, April 28, is the biggest day on the Y’s calendar nationwide. During this event more than half-a-million parents and kids across the country will visit free Y events at 1,900 branches and make a commitment to keeping body and mind active during the summer months.

Whether it’s day camp or sleepaway camp, there’s only one institution in New York where every summer camp activity promotes youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Today, we’re helping New York’s families from the Bronx to Staten Island get ready for summer. Tomorrow, we look forward to being the Rockaways’ go-to source for summer camp readiness.

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