Summer break is looming, and the stretch of nearly two months without a school routine can be daunting for parents. Finding high quality alternatives to school that provide a break without contributing to summer learning loss is often a challenge.
Fortunately, our community offers a wide variety summer camps and programs to keep school-aged children busy and enjoying new experiences. As a study from the National Education Association reports, out-of-school programs, focused on personal and social development, “have a positive impact on students’ grades, academic achievement and self esteem.” So it’s important for parents to select an enriching program.
We’ve come up with three things to look for in a program to help you narrow down your list of potential summer camps for your kid(s).
1. Friends and fun
Summer break should feel like a break from the test-focused school days. At the Girls Inc. summer camp, girls interact with peers in engaging, fun, hands-on activities. With programs tailored specifically for girls ages 6-14, our staff focuses on creating a fun space for girls to make new friends. Many parents share that the all-girl environment is their daughter’s favorite part of the camp; "[the most beneficial part of camp was] the focus on her and issues that young girls deal with in an environment that she felt comfortable being herself." Girls Inc. also takes advantage of the summer weather and makes time for swimming, field trips, and other traditional summer day camp activities.
2. Positive learning environment
While the fun aspect of camp is essential, it'is equally important to keep your child mentally stimulated over the long academic break. "Programs that extend the school year can do more than reduce summer learning loss—they can increase academic achievement," states the National Education Association. Camps that emphasize a positive learning environment allow your child to grow intellectually and personally. Here's an example: This summer at our six-week camp, girls will test their economic knowledge by creating and then running a business for a day, experience democracy in action with a live debate and vote, and practice leadership skills and teamwork. Not only will girls learn skills to help them in school, they'll practice confidence, gain self-esteem, and absorb messages for success in life.
3. Camp and beyond
Whether the camp focuses on career exploration or specializes in math, science, arts or athletics, programs that engage kids in their passions will help them prepare for their future. This summer with Girls Inc., campers will visit Butler University and IUPUI campuses to envision and learn about life as a college student. Campers will also meet with professional women in the community, many in nontraditional fields, to learn about their profession, educational background, and day-to-day work. Last year one parent shared, “My daughter benefited from looking at women for their strengths and what they bring to their communities rather than their celebrity.” Girls will also receive advice from Girls Inc.'s 2012 Touchstone Awards honorees at the annual luncheon on July 12.
One final thing that can make a difference in your camp choice is cost. Though quality programs are worth every penny, we know can be a barrier for many. If you are committed to providing special summer opportunities for your child but can't afford the fees, ask about a scholarship. Girls Inc. offers limited scholarship assistance for qualifying families.
Not sending a child to camp this year? Help another family send their child to a quality experience by donating to scholarship funds for greater Indianapolis summer programs. For a firsthand account of our commitment to supporting families, watch our video with Tunisia, a summer camp parent of six years.
P.S. Registration for Girls Inc. Summer Camp is still available for all age groups!
–Abri Hochstetler, public relations coordinator, Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis
If you want to know more about your investment
Summer day camp and/or overnight camping programs for kids in Central Indiana are offered at 35 United Way agencies. More than 40,000 children and youth participated in these activities last summer.
Offerings range from the traditional summer camp activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, canoeing, archery, horseback riding, hiking, camp fire cooking to visiting colleges around the state to help older kids prepare for higher education, zip lines and high ropes courses. Also offered are academic enrichment such as computer classes, math, reading, writing and tutoring to help prevent "summer brain drain." Theme camps enable youth to improve their golf, basketball, baseball or tennis skills.
All 13 Indianapolis neighborhood community centers offer day camps, as do Salvation Army centers and all Boys and Girls Clubs supported by United Way, ensuring that at risk children have a safe, nurturing and affordable option during their out-of-school time. All day camps also provide nutritious meals and snacks that for many may be their only meals.
Children with special needs have opportunities to enjoy traditional residential summer camp experiences including, Camp Little Red Door for children with cancer; Camp R.O.C.K.S.! offered by Easter Seals Crossroads for children with autism disorders; Camp Tataya Mayo at Jameson Camp for children impacted by HIV/AIDS; and Asthma Camp at Happy Hollow Children’s Camp.
This time of year a common question I get about public policy is: what goes on at the Statehouse when the General Assembly isn't in session? The answer is, a lot! While the General Assembly meets every year to consider and pass laws – usually during January, March or April depending on the year – each summer and fall, interim-study committees of the General Assembly meet to "study" various issues identified by the legislature.
Some committees are only established for a specific period of time, while others are standing committees that meet every year and/or are established in statute. Certain committees are made up of only state legislators while others are comprised of legislators and other community members and leaders. These committees not only allow members to better understand certain issues or discuss issues that the legislature may have run out of time to address during session, but often legislation is drafted by these committees ends up being introduced during the following legislative session.
United Way of Central Indiana follows these committees closely, especially the committee on child care and the interim-study committee on education issues. In 2011 United Way provided testimony to both of these committees about our work in early childhood education – more specifically, our work to improve child care quality as an essential component of early childhood education.
The Indiana Association of United Ways (IaUW) has drafted an initial list of study topics for 2012 which is available here. In addition to the committees mentioned above, United Way will be following a number of these issues this summer and fall, including: the Select Commission on Education; which will be studying several issues related to the new formula for grading public schools on a A-F scale, and the commission on state tax and financing policy, which will be looking at various state tax credits including Indiana's earned income tax credit and Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits over the next two years (2012 and 2013).
Go here to find a comprehensive list of these interim-study committees. This information is generally updated for the current year by May or June. From here you can access each committee's website where you'll find a list of committee members, meeting agendas and meeting minutes.
In addition to attending these committee meetings, (meeting dates are posted online and open to the public) the summer and fall are a great time to meet with your state legislators to educate them about your organization and public policy priorities, and invite them to take a tour of your facility or organization. You can find your legislators here.
As a reminder about lobbying do’s and don'ts, IaUW has put together the document, lobbying rules for nonprofits. Keep in mind during this election year, that while lobbying activity is permitted for nonprofits, political activity is not. Nonprofits cannot use organizational resources to support or oppose political candidates or parties. IaUW has also developed a document outlining election year do's and don'ts for nonprofits.
–Laura Smoots, director of public policy, United Way of Central Indiana
On April 16 the Marion County City-County Council passed a smoke-free air proposal, extending the city's current smoke-free air policy to most public places – including bars, taverns, hotels and bowling alleys. The proposal – approved by a vote of 20-9 – provides a handful of exemptions including those for nonprofit private clubs, retail tobacco shops and existing cigar and hookah bars. The proposal will now go to Mayor Greg Ballard who will have 10 days to determine whether or not to sign it into law. Earlier this year, Mayor Ballard vetoed a smoke-free air proposal passed by the council that included different smoke-free air requirements for private clubs.
*Click here to read an article about the Council's vote on the smoke-free air proposal in the Indianapolis Star.*
The ordinance approved by the city-county council on April 16 goes beyond the recently passed state law that bans smoking in many public places, including restaurants, but which exempts bars, gaming facilities and nonprofit private clubs and fraternal organizations. The statewide smoke-free air policy will be effective as of July 1, 2012.
Back in January of this year United Way of Central Indiana announced its support for comprehensive smoke-free air policies via an official letter to city-county council members. United Way continues to support comprehensive smoke-free air policies due to the health issues linked with secondhand smoke and its direct impact on individuals and families that United Way serves.
–Laura Smoots, public policy director, United Way of Central Indiana
The sun was shining and the streets were flooded with green. It was a perfect day for sunglasses, goofy green hats and beads. Downtown Indianapolis was the place to be on St. Patty's Day for agency executives and staff. Regardless of agency affiliation, everyone was inspired by the Irish mood during the St. Patty's Day parade.
Click here to view more photos of the event.
–Katie Rethlake, communications intern, United Way of Central Indiana
The second-annual Morgan County talent show took place on February 16 at Grace Church in Mooresville. Seventeen talented individuals from ages 9 to 72 participated in the event. The judges' first-place choice was Malena Dell who sang, "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)."
The crowd was also given the opportunity to vote with their "wallets" for their favorite participant. Each participant had their own United Way donation box, and voters placed donations in their favorite performer's box. The top three money-makers were: Arthur DeBaets, who performed yo-yo tricks, middle-school vocalist Emily Hankins and Gracie Betzold, a South Elementary student who sang "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele.
The talent show netted $6,689 for the Morgan County community fund. Thank you to everyone who participated, and thank you for supporting United Way!
–Katie Rethlake, communications intern, United Way of Central Indiana
Each month, we'll post updates about United Way and our agencies. There's (nearly) always something going on!
United Way news
- Julie Henson's assignment with United Way has ended. She was an AmeriCorps worker and assumed a variety of roles with us.
- Nellie Moshier, manager, HoosierCorps, has joined Harbor Light Hospice as volunteer coordinator.
- Brittney Murrell is the new Connected by 25 administrative assistant.
- Christie Snyder is the new Boone County area director.
- Amber Striegel, communications manager, has left United Way to join MillerPierce as an account manager.
- Kennethe Vaughn is the new vice president of talent management and diversity at United Way. She was promoted to fill the vacancy created with the resignation of Nancy Ahlrichs to become the new business development consultant for Flashpoint HR.