Summer camps provide positive student impact



Though school has resumed for Blount County students, the numbers for the 34 summer camp programs are just rolling in. The Blount County Education Foundation (BCEF) summer programs began on May 28 and ended on July 25, just two weeks shy of the 2019-2020 school year.

In all, 1,200 students participated in the summer program and kept from experiencing the “summer slide,” where students generally regress from the end of the school in the spring to the beginning of school in the fall.These summer activities helped the students stay connected to learning, thus experiencing less of the summer regression.

BCEF executive director Mitchie Neel said the foundation works hard to negate the impact of the summer slide by providing a wide variety of summer learning activities. All summer activities used the STEM-STEAM-STREAM theme, where the activities centered around science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Camps were conducted across the county school district.

The different summer programs provided a way for students to enhance and develop interests and talents. Students had the opportunity to sign-up for camps including coding, music, visual arts, ACT Prep, Junior Fire Academy, Kids Day on the River, Lego, field trips to musicals at UAB Alys Stephens Center, using Google tools, and more.

With camps ranging from one-half day to six weeks, the students returned to the new school year better equipped for the fall learning cycle. Those who attended the six-week Dreamcatchers Camp averaged a six-month gain in reading and a 12-month gain in math.

All of the summer events that coincided with breakfast and lunchtime included meals through the Blount County Schools Child Nutrition Program. Other grants awarded to the BCEF to help make the summer programs a success were received from Alabama Arts Education Initiative, Appalachian Regional Commission, Blount County Literacy Council, Cawaco RC&D Council, Daniel Foundation of Alabama, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, HomeTown Bank, and the United Way of Alabama.

Neel said, “These grants empower BCEF to be able to deliver a high quality summer program, impacting our students in a wonderful way.” She also thanked the Blount County Board of Education “for their wonderful partnership in this program.” She said, “Without their commitment, there would be no summer program.”

In addition, Neel said the BCEF is grateful to all the teachers, camp leaders, and camp staff who served in the program this year, impacting the students, and making a difference in their lives by sharing their talents and enthusiasm for learning.

Despite having all of the camps wrapped up and the numbers in, the mission of the BCEF to promote academic excellence in Blount County Schools has no time to rest. Next up – Blount County Education Foundation Radiothon.