The Cost of Summer Vacation

by Ericka Bremer, Instructor at Ellis Elementary

Temperatures are heating up, flowers are blooming, students are squirrelly…summer is right around the corner! At OWL, we are we are excited to wrap up another successful school year and give our hardworking students a well-deserved break. The past year was extremely rewarding for us, and hopefully for all of our members too!

However, OWL realizes that summer vacation isn’t a vacation for all families. According to the New York Time’s article, “The Families Who Can’t Afford Summer,” almost ¾ of American families do not have a parent that is able to take care of their kids during the summer months, due to work and other commitments so parents often turn to camps, family members, friends, or older siblings to help take of younger children. The reality, though, is that friends, families, and siblings often have their own summer agenda, and day camps cost an average of $304 a week. Due to this, many young children end up home alone while guardians are working.

That’s why OWL offers our evidence-based, innovative, and fun technology curriculum to families in our program during the summer months, free of cost. OWL partners with the city’s Youth, One Book, One Denver program to develop literacy in addition to developing technology skills and leadership. Students also have the opportunities to go on educational field trips that they may not have access to otherwise, including visiting the History Colorado museum, learning about fuel cells and more at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, launching rockets with United Launch Alliance, and even flying in a helicopter around their school and neighborhood with Prayer One Ministries.

OWL believes that every child should have access to quality and fun summer enrichment programs regardless of their circumstances. This summer, we are proud to offer six-week long summer camps in six elementary schools throughout Denver where we offer afterschool programming throughout the school year. The camps are free of cost for school attendees, which means that parents can continue their jobs without guilt or stress, and children receive the many benefits that summer camp offers. Not only do these summer camps lift a huge burden for families, but also work to combat the achievement gap in vital ways.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, more than half of the overall difference in academic achievement between low-income and more affluent students is due to lack of opportunities during summer break. Low-income students return to school two months behind in reading and mathematical skills, and rarely recover. By 5th grade, this summer learning loss can leave low income students up to three years behind their peers. By attending a summer camp like OWL’s, students are able to retain their language, reading, and math skills, and come back to school ahead, instead of behind. This enables our students to start the next school year a step ahead, and maintain their advancement through school. Our mission to bridge the digital literacy gap is exemplified through our summer program.

Summer can be extremely challenging for families that need childcare support, and for students that don’t have resources to maintain their past achievements. OWL’s summer camps help dissipate these problems and create a learning environment that positively affects all parties. But, we can’t do it alone. A gift of just $100 provides one week of our summer camp for one student, helping him or her to continue their education during summer months. Join us to battle the achievement gap by making educational opportunities available to all students during the summer. Together, we are bridging the digital literacy gap and changing lives! Isn’t that a great way to begin the 2017 summer?