Summer Camp Reading (SCR) had a wonderful summer. Usually we have six week camp with six camp sites, and the locations this year were to be Christ Church Cathedral/downtown Cincinnati, Grace Church/College Hill, City of Promise Church/Fairfield, St. Simon/Lincoln Heights, Wesley Chapel Mission Center/OTR, Bright Star/West End. The pandemic meant that we went to 4 weeks (not knowing when schools would reopen) and online, switched from working with Bright Star to working online with the in-person children’s program at the Lindner Y in the West End and added online SCR camp to the in-person camp at Oyler House/Price Hill. Ninety children were SCR campers.
We bought Chromebooks to lend to campers, new curriculum for online teaching, and craft supplies for each camper. We hired a consultant to teach staff about online instruction.
The day began with a Morning Meeting, and continued with reading books, doing crafts, exercising, writing, talking about values and being good citizens, and one on one tutoring.
Evaluation: Usually SCR at St. Simon’s would be full of volunteers working with the campers, which was not possible this year, much to mutual sadness. Instead, parishioner Deborah Holloway was the online director of the camp. She had ten consistent campers, three of whom were very low readers and she worked with and tested them separately. Rather than the expected 10% loss of learning from the prior year for children in low resource neighborhoods (compounded by the children being quarantined), SCR campers improved.
Using first and last week AIMS Web and Maze testing, we report that the overall average for the camps as 59% for fluency and 39% in comprehension.
St Simon Success stories: Kendra worked on phonics and by week 3 was able to identify 14 out of 15 words on her list. Her goal is to read 15 out of 15 by the end of camp.
In the beginning Julian wouldn’t try to read words he didn’t know. After being tutored with Orton Gillingham strategies when he came to an unknown word he proceeded to sound the first letter without any coaxing from the tutor.
During week 1 Jayden could read 388 words from the Fry sight word list. By week 4 he was able to read 636 words. Each day Jayden and I would review words from his word list or practice using the word in a sentence.
The campers had been without enrichment for a long time, and they enjoyed hearing stories, reading, receiving books for their empty library, and making art projects that matched the books. They liked meeting other children, especially important now. They thrived with caring, individual tutoring.
Service Project: Each site’s service project was to make a thank-you card for their mail carrier or nearby sanitation engineers and to leave them a bottle of water.
Parents: The good part of the pandemic is that parents were more involved with their children and understood elementary reading education, what the children were learning and what they needed to do. Attendance was good, 92-100 % daily. Every child with good attendance received a $25 Walmart gift card, which was a thrill for them.
We also reached children who wouldn’t have been able to attend camp because of transportation. Parents were glad that their children could practice for online learning in the fall. Comments include: My son has improved tremendously with his reading; He became much better at using a computer as well as it improved his ability to read out loud.
Thank you for the grant to help children who are struggling readers. SCR is a lifeline for them in the best of times, and during the pandemic crisis, when inequality and stress are magnified, the Diocese of Southern Ohio was a blessing with this ministry.
Submitted by The Rev. Cn. Noel Julnes-Dehner, September 2, 2020