JPS Summer Lit Camp Helps Close Reading Gap

Pictured at right: Lt. Fred Golier from Jamestown Police Department read to students during the JPS Summer Lit Camp.

Jamestown Public Schools Summer Lit Camp “counselor,” Jen Conti from the YWCA, gathered her third grade students around the opening “campfire” with a quick writing activity and an introduction to key academic vocabulary that will be used throughout the day. The “opening campfire” with Conti was just one part of the Summer Lit Camp Program in its third year. At the camp, students are closing the literacy gap and avoiding “summer slide” by engaging in literacy activities with community partners and Jamestown Public School certified teachers such as: interactive read-alouds, enhancing comprehension skills, bringing literacy to life through stories, “bunk time” independent reading and community time to talk to each other about literacy and writing.

The camp provided 113 students in grades one to four at S.G. Love, C.C. Ring, and Fletcher Elementary Schools an opportunity to engage in summer enrichment and learning opportunities. Not a typical summer school, this program is a unique partnership between the school district and community-based organizations.

“I think a lot of our kids enjoyed Lit Camp so much because it was treated like ‘camp,’ not school,” said Jeanne Larson of the YMCA and the Ring Summer Lit Camp Site Coordinator. “Some of these kids have never been to summer camp and this gave them their own ‘camp’ experience. Plus all of our staff went above and beyond to make it fun!”

To influence reading mastery for students, the Jamestown Public Schools also employed 12 certified teachers to provide literacy intervention to small groups of students four days a week to reinforce the work of the community camp “counselors.” Building on school year lessons and interventions, the teachers used district assessment data, to customize reading instruction placing students into smaller subgroups and working to build on individual skills.

Facilitated by the Jamestown area YMCA, employees from YWCA of Jamestown, Jamestown Community Learning Council, Chautauqua Striders and the YMCA provided additional learning opportunities. Leaders used the Scholastic Lit Camp Curriculum to provide literacy-based enrichment activities in an interactive and fun learning environment. Leaders went above and beyond crafting a camp like atmosphere including setting up tents in the classroom, singing songs around a “campfire” and making s’mores.

Fletcher Elementary School student, Keylianis Ita Torres, read independently during JPS Summer Lit Camp.

“The program would not be successful without the strong collaboration with our agency partners and the commitment of the building principals and school administration,” said Amanda Gesing, Jamestown Public Schools 21st Century Grant Director.

Lutheran Jamestown’s Foster Grandparent program provided grandmas who helped group leaders and assisted with lunch. The YMCA freely provided daily breakfast and lunch as a local sponsor of the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. Community leaders like Pastor Edwin Attaway, Lt. Fred Golier from Jamestown Police Department, and many others visited with students and read them stories. The Jamestown High School Varsity Football coach, Tom Langworthy, and some of his players visited each school to talk about leadership, read books and play a few games with the students. Mike Magnuson from the Prendergast Library read aloud to students. He also brought the Mobile Makerspace materials, which provided students with additional hands on activities including Legos, Marble Run, Kid Connects and magnetic building pieces.

Each site had a culminating event on the last day of camp that included family activities, games, a cookout and student awards. Thanks to a generous donation from the Jamestown Public Schools PROMISE Fund, students received a backpack with books and pencils to take home.

JPS Summer Lit Camp is funded through the district’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant designed to support out-of-school time student enrichment, including afterschool and summer programs. The district’s Title I Grant and the Jamestown PROMISE Fund provided the additional financial support to make the program a success.