Superkids Camp is a six-week education program that operates over summer break. It is offered in various neighborhood schools across the city.
The Parks and People Foundation oversees the program, which is combined with standard academics that are focused on improving literacy and reading and field trips and outdoor activities. The aim is to ensure parents and schools that students are reading by the third grade – a time proven to be vital to children’s future academic success.
The program is also aimed to deflect the loss of academic skills experienced by children over summer breaks. Children involved in educationally enriching activities will not experience these losses.
The camp was established 20 years ago on a theory that children would have a better opportunity at long-term academic success, if their reading skills were improved. Testing data has proven the theory is correct. Nearly 98 percent of the children who participate in the program maintain or increase their reading proficiency.
The Superkids program was previously offered in 16 schools and about 2,000 children attended. Today, it is offered in one private school and five elementary schools and four hundred students attend, even though 600 slots were available. The program is funded through private donations and state grants.
Previous studies have proven that helping children maintain their academic skills during the summer impacts long-term outcomes. While students from low-income households learn at the same pace as their peers from wealthier households, they tend to fall behind academically over the summer. Poor access to summer programs is a major contributor of the disparity, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.
Some classroom teachers say the first three weeks of the beginning of the school term is spent on playing catch-up, as the skills have to be taught again.
The program offers classroom education in the morning and outdoor activities in the afternoon, giving the students time to explore nature.