Report: Poor Children 5 Times Less Likely To Attend Summer Camp

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A national report shows affluent students are five times more likely to attend a summer camp than their economically disadvantaged peers.

The report from the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education, found 7 percent of children living at or below the federal poverty line have access to summer camps compared to 38 percent of kids who come from more affluent families.

A number of studies, including one by the Wallace Foundation, have found the programming that occurs at those camps can often help prevent the summer learning loss that low income children experience more often than their wealthier peers and gives children access to cultural experiences they may not typically have.

According to the report, about twice as many children from affluent families will visit a museum or attend a concert or play over the summer months when compared to children living in poverty.

Renata Brown, director of program operations for the Cleveland Boys and Girls Clubs, said the goal of her organization is to provide access to those camps and cultural activities no matter a child’s socio-economic status.

“It’s really exposure to as many different opportunities, experiences as possible for our kids,” Brown said.

During the summer months, the Boys and Girls Clubs provide a six-week day camp focused on reading and STEM education. This week, the Broadway location is hosting an arts camp where, Tuesday morning, more than a dozen students were sketching pictures and writing the plot for their first comic book.

The summer programming costs $10 for families who can afford to pay, but students can receive a scholarship to cover that cost, Brown said. The facilities are also open to children who don’t want to participate in the organized programs, she added.

Brown said simply having access to the space may not lead a kid to new knowledge, but will provide them with a safe, stable environment where they can get a meal and interact with caring adults.

“Even a kid who doesn’t have it in them to participate in something while they’re here, just being here I think goes a long way toward them being ready to go into the next grade,” she said.

The NCES report found significant differences in the access children had to educational activities over summer months based on family income, but no difference when households were asked about the amount of time a child spent playing outside during that period.

Seventy-six percent of families reported their children played outside every day during the summer.

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