It’s always heartwarming to see the Summer Camps issue of U.S. 1 each year. As a young person growing up in Brooklyn, I didn’t have the opportunity to spend my summers outside exploring the natural world and learning how to work with kids outside of my neighborhood. It’s one of the many reasons that I joined the Board of the Princeton-Blairstown Center after settling in the Princeton area.
So many parents from middle- and upper-income families have the resources to send their kids to some of the best summer programs in the nation, much like the ones you highlighted in your camp issue. For kids from low-income neighborhoods, the options are very limited and inequitable. When school is not in session, many hang out in their neighborhoods or spend the summer inside their apartments playing video games or watching tv. Consequently, year-over-year they experience the “summer slide” without the opportunities to build their skills the way more affluent kids have. Most young people lose two months of mathematical skills every summer and kids from low-income communities lose another two to three months in reading.
At the Princeton-Blairstown Center, each summer we provide roughly 550 young people with an intentional learning opportunity that combats summer learning loss. These young people spend a week at our 264-acre campus in Blairstown for our Summer Bridge Program, which is offered at no charge. They spend three hours a day engaged in hands-on literacy; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and project-based learning; and three hours a day working on their social-emotional skills through ropes and challenge course activities that focus on building critical 21st century skills like creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
All young people deserve opportunities for enriching and stimulating summer experiences so that they start the school year ready to learn and compete on an even playing field. For more than 110 years, the Princeton-Blairstown Center has been providing this opportunity to some of the most deserving young people in our community.
— Shawn Maxam
Board Member, Princeton-Blairstown Center