By Dr. Marquita Hockaday
This past school year brought challenges and change for K-12 students on various levels. Particularly the struggles and shifts of virtual learning were a hurdle that many students and school districts had to overcome. Thus, the prospects of summer enrichment can seem like a welcome respite for many school districts and several students. According to Encyclopedia.com, summer enrichment programs generally provide talented students developmentally appropriate learning and supplemental activities that they need to continue their education beyond the school year. The goal of these programs is to ensure students are staying challenged so they do not lose their passion and love for learning over the summer (Encyclopedia.com, 2021). With that being said, what kind of summer enrichment programs can students look forward to when we’ve had a year like 2021? Are all programs virtual, focusing on the arts, or do some offer in-person STEM hands-on learning? This post will highlight the top three components of summer enrichment programs students can look forward to as they engage in supplemental learning beyond the school year:
Component 1: That Camp Feeling
Several of the summer enrichment programs are set up as “camps.” They often run for 2-3 weeks, and students spend that time living together in close quarters at a college campus (often in a dorm), engaging in various activities related to the campus mission. For example, I will be taking on the role of Dean of Students for Camp Launch at William and Mary this summer. This is usually an in-person camp for high-ability, low-income students focusing on STEM and a writing curriculum. Students engage in a two-week camp where they attend various courses, as well as a career fair. Students eat lunch together and bunk together--hence, that camp feeling! Due to COVID-19, Camp Launch was virtual in 2020 and will be again this year; however, the team is working hard to still have that camp feeling via Zoom, including spirit days, dance parties, and social hours.
There are other summer enrichment programs like Camp Launch (both virtual and in-person) that are offered to K-12 students. See a list of these at the end of this post.
Component 2: Furthering Education
Another aspect of enrichment programs is that they are always working to further the education of K-12 students. The faculty and staff will include curricula that pushes students beyond what they have learned during the school year, including material that challenges and encourages the campers to think outside of the box. For instance, at Camp Launch the students will engage in research and have courses such as personal development that push them to think about how they perceive themselves as well as how others see them.
Component 3: Making Connections with Peers
The final aspects of enrichment, perhaps some of the most important, are the connections and relationships with peers. While continuing education and supplemental learning are key, the links and connections made with peers during camps often cannot be broken. Many students will attend a camp seeking the companionship that can come from this experience. Some students have to be coaxed to forge these relationships, activities like social hours and spirit days (such as the ones mentioned above included in Camp Launch) are important to incorporate to encourage students to engage in making those connections.
Therefore, enrichment opportunities are available, whether they are in-person or virtual this year. Students are seeking these moments to take part in supplemental activities as many of them are yearning for more learning experiences and more chances to engage with their peers.
More Enrichment Opportunities:
SPARK- Newport News Public Schools
George Washington Pre-College Program
And there are many, many more!!