They certainly look and sound like any other summer day camps, with kids playing ball and hula hooping and doing arts and crafts.
This is year is different, though.
The Children’s Trust says its camps are focusing more on academics than ever before to help kids make up for the so-called "Covid Slide."
“We always have summer learning loss, but this year, it’s almost two years, probably, of some learning loss, so it’s really important,” said Rachel Spector of the Children’s Trust.
The non-profit agency operates more than 100 camps serving more than 20,000 students. All of them are getting literacy, STEM, and art classes in the camps, along with enrichment field trips.
“We also have a partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to bring in certified teachers for some additional mathematics and literacy-focused activities for students,” Spector said, adding that the program begins at the end of June.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools says about 65,000 of its students had fallen behind in the classroom. The district is trying to get all of those kids to enroll in either summer school, at Summer305.Dadeschools.net, or in the Children’s Trust camps.
For parents who saw their kids struggle with online learning, the camps give the hope that their children can get back up to speed.
“It gives me a security or something, like they’re not gonna be so left behind like they did last year, and there's gonna be some reinforcement, getting back all those pieces together,” said Imara Leiva, who has three kids in camp, referring to the academic pieces of their lives.
Of course, the academic component of the camps is important, but getting the kids to just hang out together, having fun playing games, is also crucial to their development.
“It’s really important for kids to socialize with children their age, and they miss that, there’s been a lot of social isolation, I expect that we’ll probably see mental health issues down the line, but it is important for kids to be around their friends,” Spector said.
They’re kids, but they’re also the clients here, and they give their camp experience high marks so far.
“I think it’s really fun because you get to experience new things,” said Madison Flores, who’s going into fourth grade. She said camp is kind of like school but more fun.
“If you don’t know something and you need help with something you could learn easily like that, right here, because they always teach stuff,” said Isaac Henriquez, another fourth-grader.
Teaching the right stuff at the right time is the key to getting all the kids ready for the next school year.