Summer Programs Offer Togetherness After a Challenging Year

Making slime
Field trip
PAC performers

Slime is all the rage at our Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center summer youth program. There’s a table permanently dedicated to it across the lobby from the gym, loaded up with glue, shaving cream, contact lens solution, baking soda, dye and essential oils. Several girls between eight and fifteen years old were gathered there on a recent Tuesday evening, measuring ingredients and blending them in paper cups with the intense focus of laboratory scientists. When they were done, they rolled, coiled and pulled the resulting blobs in every possible way.  

Why slime? “It’s fun and you can play with it,” said one.

The sounds of stirring and chatter—”I added more baking soda but it’s still too wet. Should I try shaving cream?”—were punctuated by the occasional ungodly loud crash, like a bowling ball smashing into a hundred wooden bowling pins. That was the giant Jenga tower in the corner of the gym falling down to mark the end of a game, and nobody flinched when it happened—even the basketball players practicing their shooting nearby.  

After this difficult, COVID-tainted year, Goddard’s summer programs have provided a haven for young people to hang out, learn, play, and spend time with their friends. 

The summer evening youth program serves young people from 8 to 24, seven days a week, providing a safe space for socializing and engaging in enriching activities. Besides sports, games and slime, it offers crafts, cooking and field trips. This summer the places they’ve gone include the movies, rock climbing, the Slime Museum (yes, that’s a thing) and Six Flags.  

Our day camps, at Lincoln Square and further uptown at our Beacon program, have also offered a packed summer of activities. As a school-based program, the Beacon was part of the city’s Summer Rising initiative, which paired camp in the afternoon with academics in the morning. This year’s theme for Beacon campers was inventions: the young people studied historic innovations such as cellphones, radio, automobiles and braille, then shared their own creative products in an “Invention Convention.” 

Lincoln Square operated as a traditional day camp. “We tried to make sure we were outdoors as much as possible,” said Director Tamika Gayle. The young people went on lots of field trips, including to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Bronx Zoo. They also had fun with traditional activities like Water Games and an end-of-camp carnival. 

Last year our summer Performing Arts Conservatory went entirely online. This year the young performers were back—and excited to train and perform in person. 

As always, the Conservatory combined professional lessons in drama, music, singing and dance with intensive work on a final project: an original performance of a show called “Asata in Technoland.” This year, in addition to learning and performing the whole show, the campers wrote it.  

Avery Pierre-Collins had some reservations about a whole summer’s worth of theater camp but as Community Arts Manager Amanda Hopper says, once he got started, “we couldn’t get him to stop singing and dancing!” 

“It was fun because you got to do things,” said Avery. “I got to learn how to train my body in different ways and to be more flexible, and to use my voice.” 

They performed the show in mid-August before a rapturous audience of family and friends at the Riverside Church auditorium. Then they celebrated together—a fitting end to another summer of fun and learning.