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Jubilee Ministry funds nearly a dozen summer reading camps

August 2, 2011

It’s been almost a decade since the diocese of Lexington launched its first summer reading camp in 2002, and since then the concept has spread to dioceses across the country.

Eleven such church-sponsored summer reading camps received $1,000 Jubilee Ministry grants this year, and the church hopes to fund even more such camps next summer.

Meanwhile, the original in Kentucky has now evolved into six separate week-long camps, two residential and four day camps, all serving children who struggle with poverty and the associated impact that has on their schooling.

“Reading camp began in the first year of Bishop Stacy Sauls episcopacy,” said Allison Duvall, director of the diocesan reading camp program. “He noticed that we have a great amount of treasure, but our diocese had been living from a perception of scarcity and fear.”

Among the Diocese of Lexington’s treasures: Cathedral Domain, a beautiful camp and conference center; and a large number of teachers.

“Take a great camp, lots of great teachers, all in a diocese with a low level of literacy, shake it all up and what you get is reading camp,” Duvall said. “Primarily it’s about literacy, but as we’ve refined the program, it really has become a holistic approach to children.”

Duvall said one week of reading camp can’t, realistically, raise a struggling child’s reading level a whole grade level. “But what we can do is reverse negative associations they may have made about failing at reading.”

As Lexington wraps up 10 years of experience in staging reading camps, it has tried to make the project as replicable in other dioceses as possible.

Other summer reading camps that received Jubilee Ministry support grants this year:

  • The Bishop’s Camp at the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew in Dallas provides children 6-14 with seven weeks of free camp activities. The heart of the camp is the reading program. The camp strives to have each child read to a volunteer one-on-one for 30 minutes each day. The children are free to choose their own books from the camp’s library.
  • The Episcopal Community Services Foundation of the Diocese of Southern Ohio sponsors five multi-week reading camps that work with 15 underachieving students per site to improve their reading during the summer before fourth grade. The campers read and play literacy-enriching games.
  • East Nashville Hope Exchange, a ministry of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Nashville in the Diocese of Tennessee, is a learning community for disadvantaged lower elementary children and those who care for them. The five-week summer program develops children’s literacy, leadership and cooperative learning skills.
  • The Reading Stars program in Highland Springs, Va., is a cooperative program between Highland Springs Elementary and Trinity Episcopal Church. For eight Saturdays during summer, rising second- and third-graders who are struggling with their reading come and work with a reading partner. Throughout the day the children play word games and draw illustrations for books they love.
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Paterson, N.J. runs two five-week day camps concurrently during summer. Discovery Camp is for 20 children in grades two through five where the focus is on preventing summer learning loss as well as providing enrichment and recreational activities. CityServe is for 50 youth ages 13-15 and the focus is on community service, leadership and enrichment.
  • The Bright Readers Summer Fun Club was formed in 2009 by Bright Zone Ministry, an outreach program of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Frisco, Texas. Meeting at the local elementary school and drawing on the support of more than 60 volunteers, the program helps bridge the learning gap during summer. In addition to reading activities, the fun club also incorporates math skills games on laptop computers. An average of 30 students attend each week for 10 weeks.
  • St. Andrew’s Jubilee Center in Camden, N.J. hosts a Saturday afternoon club for about 20 children ages 5-14 that includes reading, tutoring, field trips, movies and dinner. Volunteers from the congregation supervise the children and provide the meals.
  • Rural & Migrant Ministry, a Jubilee Ministry in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. sponsors a Youth Empowerment Program that includes a free summer camp to provide a camping experience for rural and migrant children who would not otherwise be able to have such an opportunity. More than 100 campers spend a week with professional artists and educators. The focus is on improving literacy skills through dance, music and arts and crafts.
  • St. Lawrence Place in Columbia, S.C., provides childcare both after-school and during summer for homeless children ages 5-11 living in the ministry’s transitional housing program. During the 10 weeks of summer, about 40 children participate in sports activities, field trips and educational activities. Every afternoon is devoted to literacy-related activities.
  • The Diocese of Maryland partners with Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope, the Ghana Ministry of Education and the Anglican Diocese of Accra to sponsor a one-week reading camp in the villages of the Ga West Region of Greater Accra in Ghana, West Africa. The camps focuses on improving reading skills for between 50 and 100 children ages 5-13. Since schools in Ghana aren’t equipped with pencils, markers, paper or other such goods, the reading camp provides all these materials.
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