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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Fun in the sun is not enough

Science campers in Austin, Texas. Photo: Mad Science

Summer camp isn’t just for swimming and crafts, writes Michael Alison Chandler in the Washington Post. Specialty camps — debate, filmmaking, computer coding, paleontology, “girls in politics,” improv — let affluent children explore interests and hone skills.

“Just plain fun-in-the sun is not necessarily enough anymore,” said Lisa Friedlander, chief executive of Activity Rocket, an online service that helps parents pick and choose from among hundreds of area camps. “Parents want to take full advantage of this time. There’s always this push: What can I expose my child to?”

Of course, all that enrichment costs money. “Summer is the most unequal time in America,” Matthew Boulay, interim chief executive for the Baltimore-based National School Learning Association, told Chandler.  “All the resources we devote to helping our most vulnerable students and children largely stop during the summer months.”

Boston is trying to make summer school more fun by combining catch-up work with “enrichment opportunities, from science camp to sailing,” reports Max Larkin for WBUR.

A new report from the Rand Corporation suggests summer learning is invaluable, if done right. It doesn’t just stave off the so-called “summer slide” in grades and skills; it can equip students — especially low-income and low-achieving students — to do better on tests mid-year. The Fifth Quarter will place more than 2,000 high-need students — mostly middle-schoolers — in 31 free programs around the Boston area. Some will be run by the district, and others by community partners. BPS faculty will help teach them all, marrying the district’s academic goals for students to new experiences — like salsa dancing, archery or tennis.

Outward Bound on Thompson Island in Boston Harbor will “blend its curriculum of science and character-building with students’ regular schoolwork back on shore.”

Courageous Sailing’s “Swim, Sail, Science” camp teaches low-income students to sail in Boston Harbor. Photo: Hadley Green/WBUR

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