Sadoff noted that reading studies show students plateau or slip during the summer break unless they continue to use their new skills. So, the summer camp emphasizes reading and gardening, she said.
The students recently rehearsed and performed “The Garden of Oz,” an original play by instructor Kaitlin Harris. They learned the play, which has a garden theme, as a vehicle for practicing academic skills, YGP officials said. The students also continue to pick squash bugs and weed the YGP garden plots.
Earlier in the season Dr. Tim Graham was on hand for Mad Scientist Week, and local magician Rick Boretti conducted a program of magic during “Hang on to Your Gnomies” week.
Those activities are typically held during the morning, then after lunch, the younger students nap while the older kids have personal choice time, which usually means reading, writing, drawing or games.
Parents pay $100 per week for the camp unless they qualify for assistance, YGP officials said. Keeping the cost affordable is a primary objective of the group’s board of directors and Sadoff.
“The most rewarding aspect of the program is working with the kids who come on assistance, because over the years we establish a relationship with these troubled kids that can see them through a lonely summer and even give them skills for life,” Sadoff said.
She offered the example of a girl who, during her fourth year of camp, came to the program one day so angry that it consumed her entire morning. It was clear she was angry at her mother, Sadoff said, for not giving her one-on-one time (the girl lived with guardians.) Her instructor sat down with her and suggested that she try clearly asking her mom for some time. A couple of days later, the girl wasn’t at camp because she was having a day with her mom, Sadoff said.
“She learned a life skill about asking for what she needed,” Sadoff said.
Board member Trish Hawkins said the strengths of the summer program are the staff, both ongoing and AmeriCorp volunteers, the garden itself, and the continuity of the program.