Reading, 10-year-old Jonathan Rojas proclaimed to a room of fellow students, is like eating chips.
“Once you start, you just can’t stop?” asked Sean Crews, a program coordinator for new summer camp Project Transformation.
“Yes!” confirmed a smiling Rojas.
Rojas’ enthusiasm is a good sign for organizers of Project Transformation, an eight-week day camp targeting kindergarten through sixth-graders in areas with high rates of poverty. The organization, a ministry of the Methodist Church with several chapters in the South, is designed to help at-risk students from falling behind their peers.
Summer learning loss, or summer slide, is a challenge for all students. Without structured learning, students lose the math and reading skills they picked up during the school year.
But that gap is greater for students in poverty due to the lack of access to summer camps and other programs that support learning throughout the summer, said Rachel Neer, executive director of Project Transformation’s northwest chapter, which opened this summer. Low-income parents may be unable to afford summer camps, drive their children to programs or spend enough time reading with their children.