Summer Fun – and Learning, Too

SPLASH! A counselor pours a tub of water over children’s heads as they huddle together screaming and laughing.

SPLAT! A water balloon bursts against the wall.

SWOOSH! Children line up to dive head-first down slip-and-slides while hoses spray over them.

On a sunny July day, campers at our Lincoln Square neighborhood Center were beating the heat with a massive water party in their outdoor play area. Wearing swimsuits, they splashed in wading pools, tossed beach balls and squirted water pistols.

Goddard Riverside’s four camp programs offer plenty of activities like water parties to make the summer fun Ð but there’s a lot of learning going on, too.

At our Beacon program, campers are planning and executing four days of service projects at the end of the month. The Bernie Wohl Center summer camp offers Art, Computer Science, Chess, Storytelling, Music, Percussion, Tennis and Photography groups. At Lincoln Square, campers have group competitions every week; recently they studied the arts of Brooklyn and had a mural-painting contest. The Performing Arts Camp engages children in ballet, modern, hip hop, drumming, theater and vocal training in the morning. Then, the campers come together to work on their annual show, which will be presented on August 16 at the Trinity School Auditorium.

Longtime Bernie Wohl Center summer camp director Roy Baptiste came up with the theme that unites all four camps this year: branding. Campers are critiquing existing brands and working to develop their own personal brands.

Why branding? Baptiste said it’s important for children because they’re exposed to commercial pressures from an early age. “We need them to think Ð am I using this brand because it works for me or because my friends use it or I see it on TV?” he explained. In addition, Baptiste said, personal branding is a way to build character and self-confidence: “Their name is their brand and we want them to connect their name with all the positive and unique characteristics that make them special.”

In addition to the unifying theme, the four camps will come together for two day trips: one to Lake Welch and one to FDR State Park.

Our summer day camps provide a safe and enriching environment for children when school is out. Our camp programs are designed to prevent what’s known as “summer learning loss” when, without engagement in reading, children’s ability actually erodes while they are out of school. Academic skills are embedded into the camp activities at all four sites.

Studies also show summer day camps help young people improve in decision-making, social skills and leadership. We’re proud to help young people fully develop their abilities and grow up to contribute to their community.