Summer 2019 Newsletter – Summer Camp


Summer Camp at Union Settlement

Union Settlement’s summer programs provide East Harlem children with a fun and educational summer. Our elementary school summer camp programs run from July 1 through August 16, 8am to 6pm, Monday through Friday; middle school programs run through August 2nd, 8:30am to 3:30pm. These programs are geared toward fun and learning, however they also ensure that working families do not bear the financial and logistical burden of keeping their children safe and active in the summer while they are at work.

Amanda Walker, Associate Director of Afterschool Programs, is looking forward to this year’s activities. “The children will have an opportunity to dance, paint murals, build robots, explore different biomes and much, much more!”

This year, we’re especially excited to have the opportunity to partner for the first time with Volo City Kids Foundation, which is facilitating the physical fitness component of our summer camps. “Volo is creating a sports camp within our summer camp, providing whatever is needed for each sport—including the equipment, uniforms, activity training, instructors, and so forth,” explains Amanda.

The goals each summer are both educational and social. “We want children to be able to develop different characteristics about themselves. We want them to learn different things than they might while at school—especially about themselves,” says Amanda. “We’ve seen that some kids who struggle socially, after participating in our summer camps, go back to school in the fall and are able to participate in group activities with more confidence, feeling like they are a part of their community—as opposed to remaining distant.”

Our “themes” projects are always a highlight of our summer camp programs because they give children an opportunity to be extremely creative and implement their own imagination. For example, one summer our theme was “rainforests,” so the children researched a specific rainforest, the animals that are in it and the different types of environments that are associated with an actual rainforest. They then created a specific project that came out of the overall theme. It all came together as a culminating performance, or showcase or display, and their peers, parents, and our colleagues were invited to see.

Academically, our summer camps offer a way to help children retain what they learned during the school year. “Children in our summer programs have the opportunity to utilize the skills and concepts taught during the school year—usually in a really fun way! This enables them to retain a lot of that knowledge.”

Working with local public schools, we are even able to customize an individual child’s time in our summer camps by taking into account their academic interests or struggles. This could mean, for example, if a student struggles in math, we will provide activities that bolster what they recently studied in math class.

Ultimately, our summer programs are about East Harlem’s children achieving things that go beyond what they thought was even possible. “For me, the highlight is our end-of-summer celebrations,” adds Amanda. “This is when you have an opportunity to see the culmination of the work that the children have done over the summer. They have been working so hard engaging in their workshops and creating, building, composing, or whatever they’re doing in their particular activities. I’m always blown away by how much they’ve learned and accomplished in such a short period of time. There’s a lot to celebrate every summer!”