By Jeff DeHayes, CNN
(CNN) - With schools letting out for summer all over the country, it's time to talk about summer camp.
For some, camp is something to look forward to all year long, where new friends are made and old friends reconnect. For others, watching “The Parent Trap” might be the only summer camp experience they have.
However you remember it, camp serves up memories of cabins, sleeping bags, campfires, ghost stories, shaving cream fights, catching lizards - and for fans of that movie, possibly discovering you have a long lost twin.
Summer camp can serve multiple purposes. It can fill what might otherwise be an uneventful couple of months when hanging out in front of the TV isn't an option. Camps also provide much-needed childcare, especially in households where both parents work.
By Gary Huggins, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Thursday is Summer Learning Day. Gary Huggins is CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, a national nonprofit organization based in Baltimore that connects and equips schools, providers, communities and families to deliver high-quality summer learning opportunities to our nation’s youth to help close the achievement gap and support healthy development.
There’s a flaw in our summer equation.
Summer break is a treasured American tradition that arose from the need for children to work on farms during the warm-weather months. But while summer is a special time of year, it’s turning into a missed opportunity, at a huge cost.
It seems that for many, summer vacation has now come to equal not just a break from school, but a break from any kind of learning. Summer means freedom for schoolchildren to do absolutely nothing, for three long months.
There is nothing wrong with taking breaks. Everyone needs them. Time off from the regular school routine and curriculum allows students and teachers to recharge their batteries and do things differently.
But we collectively pay a steep bill for our prolonged break from learning. Research shows students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do at the beginning. Most students lose two months’ worth of math skills each summer, and low-income children lose another two to three months in reading, putting them chronically behind their better-off peers. That’s an incredible waste of the resources we pour into the school year.
Here’s the real flaw in the equation. Our attitude toward summer tells young people that summer is for fun and not learning. Therefore, what we’re really telling them is that learning is the opposite of fun.
By John Martin, CNN
(CNN) – About 14 million children will participate in summer programs across America this year. An estimated 24 million more children “are on the outside, looking in,” Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, told CNN. Their parents would enroll them in these programs if they were available and affordable.
Walmart and its philanthropy arm, the Walmart Foundation, announced on Wednesday that it is giving $20 million to support youth summer programs that promote healthy meals, educational opportunities and employment and skills training.
The six grant recipients are the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA); National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA); National Summer Learning Association (NSLA); Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP); Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL); and Brandeis University. They operate or support summer programs in 350 communities.
NSLA, ICP and BELL will focus on summer learning initiatives. A Johns Hopkins study shows that low-income students can lose two months of math and reading ability over a nonproductive summer.
NSLA’s Huggins told CNN "there is a growing recognition among [school] district leaders that students are losing ground, and we have to stop that."