Why summer matters in education
For many, summer break conjures memories of trips, outdoor adventures, camps, swimming, late evenings of lasting daylight and warmth. The stimulation and activity that spans the time between when school closes and when it re-opens is critical to young developing minds. The problem is that not all kids have a summer filled with fun and stimulating activity. In fact, many have complacent summer days occupied with screen time and inactivity.
The research is substantial; summer learning loss is evident and pervasive. Evidence shows that youth who are not exposed to summer activity that stimulates curiosity and intellectual growth fall significantly behind their peers who do have that access.
The impact is so great that by the time they are juniors in high school, students without summer stimulation are on average a full two years behind their counterparts in their academic development.
The research also shows that it is not just academic rigor during the summer months that allows for development from June to August, it is exposure to activity, adventure, high yield learning activities, and/or programs that generate curiosity, provide learning opportunities and expand a general knowledge base.
Enter the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley.
The recent and well-publicized success of the 27th annual Sweetheart Auction at the club demonstrates the deep commitment this community has for the betterment of our youth.
The auction netted more than $200,000 for the first time ever, a significant part of the club’s annual $1.6 million budget to serve nearly 2,200 members (50 percent of Sonoma’s school-aged youth).
But more important than the scope of the club’s reach into the community is the quality of the services we offer, and the Sweetheart Fund-A-Need was geared toward our summer programs.
One of the remarkable things about the Boys & Girls Club is that there is something for everyone.
In 2011, the club vastly increased the offerings and the scope of our summer programs, all with an eye toward diminishing the Summer Learning Loss phenomena for our Sonoma youth.
In 2012, we will offer more specialty camps that include science camp, video production, lego robotics, rock climbing and sports camps.
Of course, College Bound and other teen-specific programs will be in full force for our teen members.
For the first time last year, the club had waiting lists and even turned a few kids away because of availability. Our goal this year is to continue to reach out to all demographics of Sonoma youth and to be able to serve each one who comes our way with quality camps and programs that push back the tide on the widening educational gap created by summer vacation.
Perhaps most importantly, the club is available to all youth 6 and up. Annual membership is intentionally very affordable and we provide scholarships to any family in need. We can do this because of the generosity of the folks like you who support the club, at our events or otherwise.
So, thank you. Each of you is helping to make the club a better place for all of us.
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Dave Pier is CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley.